Photos by Kathy Tran

By Christian Welch

Michelle and Steve Choi ran a successful Korean restaurant for years, but something about it didn’t sit right with them. They couldn’t figure out why other ethnic foods were scattered around the metroplex, but Korean restaurants were rare outside of Koreatown. 

“You see Indian restaurants, Vietnamese restaurants, sushi joints and Chinese take-outs everywhere, but the authentic Korean restaurants were confined to K-town only,” Choi says. “Not just Dallas but in New York, LA, Chicago, San Francisco — it’s pretty much the same story. So [Michelle] wanted to take this authentic Korean recipe and introduce it to the mainstream.”

The concept is similar to Chipotle: You pick your rice, meat and toppings, and then your bowl is prepared for you. The Chois don’t mind the comparison because the familiar concept makes Korean food more accessible. 

That’s why they only picked one dish, Bibimbap, to focus on. Bibimbap is a simpler way of presenting Korean food to the masses because it’s a complete meal in a bowl. It has carbs, veggies and Korean barbecue topped with an egg. 

Word to the wise. There are no spice levels at Burning Rice, so if you order spicy meat, be prepared. For an extra dollar, you can get your meal in a hot stone bowl, which gives the rice on the bottom a delightful crispiness. That’s where the restaurant name comes from. Don’t let it burn for too long. Bibimbap is meant to be mixed together, a misunderstanding the Chois see a lot with first-time guests. 

“The true flavor is in the mix of rice, veggie and barbecue toppings all together.”

Bibimbap is the secret, Korean, good-for-you comfort food. The restaurant attracts a lot of health-conscious young professionals and families looking for something healthy to feed their kids. 

“Our food is healthy. None of our kitchens have a freezer — nothing frozen, nothing fried,” Choi says. “We use a lot of natural ingredients: ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vegetables.”

The Preston Hollow location is the newest Burning Rice. They chose the Preston Center because of neighbors’ sophisticated palates. The Chois say Koreatowns are not always in the nicest part of town, and they want people from all walks of life to be exposed to their food. That’s also why Burning Rice is expanding so quickly. They have six locations opening in the next 12 months. As they add more restaurants, Michelle keeps a watchful eye over the operation. 

Michelle is detail-oriented, Choi says. “The staff cleans three times a day: before we open, the idle time between lunch and dinner, and after we finish,” he says. “Burning Rice has a high standard for service, environment and food. We want to keep it that way.”

DID YOU KNOW? Burning Rice has a complimentary soup and salad bar.

Burning Rice

6106 Luther Lane

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

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