Thank You From Our Founder

Thank You From Our Founder

When we launched Chi’Lantro back in 2010, inspired by the “Keep Austin Weird” vibe of our city and the adventurous dining spirit of our amazing community, I could never have imagined that we would be opening our 10th store in a few weeks and winning The Austin Chronicle’s Best of Austin 2022: Restaurants – Korean Cuisine.

Throughout the last 12 years of serving Austin, our values and beliefs have always been the same. We are dedicated to serving great food, providing southern hospitality to our customers, and keeping our restaurants clean while being authentic to ourselves and having fun doing what we love.

When I saw the news this morning, I was honored, grateful, and surprised by the announcement. Korean food has come a long way here in Austin. It’s still small, but we have great strength. Here’s why I think Korean food in Austin will continue to flourish and grow.

I remember going to Korea House whenever I wanted to sit down and feel like I was in Korea. Kim’s family (not related yet it feels like we are family whenever we get together), speaking Korean to each other in the back of the kitchen made me feel at home. Whenever I have an occasion to drink soju and makgeolli to celebrate, I call my friends at Korea House to make reservations. They are always smiling, and have “jeong” where I feel like I’m in Korea eating at my relative’s house.

Charm Korean BBQ place is about a 30-minute drive up north for me. The same Korean lady with a gold watch greets me and the server lady with the “charm soju” green apron usually serves me by recognizing me and asking, “Why haven’t you been here in so long?!” I always respond with, “Sorry I’ve been so busy with work!” I think she recognizes me because I usually tip really well (I somehow think of my mom working at a restaurant when I was younger). This place makes me feel like I’m in LA because it is ALL You Can Eat where I’m ordering unlimited green leaf lettuce to go along with my sliced beef brisket.

When there were rumors about owner Lynn Miller opening Oseyo, I was excited and skeptical at the same time. I was excited because this was the first elevated Korean dining experience in Austin (something I imagined doing if I were to start another restaurant) and I was skeptical because I was curious if she would be executing the concept well enough to keep customers coming back. A few months after their opening in 2019, I went to check out Oseyo with my most critical food friend and we were both surprised, giddy, and grateful because of how she executes it from servers to drinks, to food, and dessert. Lynn has become a good friend since then, and we check in from time to time. I have the utmost respect for what she’s doing here in Austin.

I met John at Seoulju at an event probably about 8 years ago. He is around my age, so we immediately became friends. When I first met him, he had the vision to introduce the Korean nightlife drinking experience through delicious Korean Fried Chicken and Soju. I don’t think there’s a place in town that does what John does in Austin today. This place has a party vibe, yet is focused on execution. John makes sure you will have a great time, occasionally drinking a shot of soju with you.

This is the first time that The Austin Chronicle has published a Best of Austin: Restaurants with a category for Cuisine to highlight the different cuisines and cultures that make up the diverse restaurant community in Austin. Before this, Chi’Lantro would just fall under the Food & Drink section under a vague category. This is why I’m extremely proud and thankful that our community voted for Chi’Lantro for Korean Cuisine and I’m excited to see that the Korean restaurant community is gaining more recognition in Austin.

Exceeding your expectations and delivering on our core pillars and values will always be our priority. As a founder and CEO of Chi’Lantro, I want to assure you that we remain deeply committed to our investment in serving food that is authentically us, and ensuring you always have a great experience with us whether you’re dining in or taking it to go. In addition, I could not be more proud of our team who executes our vision on a daily basis. They are the backbone of our brand.

Thank you!

Jae Kim

Founder and CEO