One of Crossroads-cooked Parlor’s longest serving tenants is getting an extra helping of success, launching a limited-run concept just feet away from its original counter.
Keeyoung Kim, chef and owner of Sura Eats, plans to formally open Sura Noodle Bar Thursday — the result of a growing hunger for his Korean cuisine and a strong partnership with the local food hall he’s called home since 2018.
“I was definitely hesitant — and scared — because like many other businesses, we were simply focusing on survival,” Kim said of the three-month expansion opportunity — presented to him by Parlor management after ChickHoovenSwine BBQ vacated the space on the food hall’s second floor in December.
The BBQ restaurant and catering company relocated to a new kitchen space inside Blade & Timber’s Town Center location in Leawood, earlier last month.
“We had just closed a location in [Parlor’s Oklahoma City location] due to the pandemic, which was incredibly difficult,” Kim said. “But with the convenience of existing equipment and an open space at Parlor, it was an opportunity to test out a concept with less risk and keep doing what we are passionate about.”
Family, friends, and customers were introduced to the spin-off concept during a soft opening last weekend, greeted by its main ingredient: noodles.
“I love noodles, particularly noodle soups — pho, ramen, Korean packaged ramyun, and one of my favorite dishes of all time — mul naengmyun [Korean cold noodle soup,]” Kim said of the inspiration behind the limited-run concept and the items it’s serving — many of which were originally developed for Sura Eats’ secret menu.
“I love to eat the Chicken Kalguksu and Spicy Cucumber Salad together. It’s a clean, savory broth with a subtle roasted chicken flavor paired with bright spice of the gochujang-pear vinaigrette and crunch of the cucumbers — a beautiful balance. Add a spice-bomb to any and every item for a delicious, spicy, experience.”
Signature dishes at Sura Noodle Bar include kimchi shin ramyun; chicken kalguksu; mushroom ramyun; and sides such as spicy cucumber salad, cauliflower bites, and popcorn chicken tossed in soy-sesame citrus sauce with a garlic-chili mayo dipping sauce.
“We tested out a few noodle dishes during our “Taste Test Tuesdays” and they performed well. I also think it’s fascinating that particular noodle dishes play a significant role in peoples’ memories from different cultures,” he said.
“We want to feature other Asian chefs’ noodle dishes as specials to show collaboration and friendship in the food community — but also the reality that Korean food today is a result of influences from different cultures.”
Identifying different ways to connect with customers and their concepts of home and culture will also drive the pop-up forward, Kim said, adding his hope the noodle bar could become a permanent fixture within Parlor or as a standalone restaurant.
“We are grateful to be in a space where the business model empowers new restaurants to introduce and build concepts without the crazy amounts of initial capital and overhead you will find in a [traditional] restaurant.”
While growth beyond the food hall could someday mean an expanded menu and a full bar program — representing even more flavors of Korean culture — Kim’s present focus is making sure both Sura Eats and Sura Noodle Bar can provide a top-notch customer experience, he said.
“We are one team and company and one of our goals is to showcase Korean cuisine in fun, delicious, approachable ways.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.