Korean fried chicken wings at Jenny Lee’s Korean American Kitchen come with your choice of sauce (Gochu Glaze, Honey Garlic, Green Dragon, Buffalo or OG Sauce). Photo courtesy of Jenny Lee’s Korean American Kitchen.
Writer: Karla Walsh
Even if you didn’t book a trans-Atlantic vacation this summer, you still have a lot to explore close to home. Take, for instance, the three taste bud-tempting spots highlighted during our Discover Diverse Des Moines event in May. (Summer is the perfect excuse to visit—or revisit—Monarca Gourmet Paletas, by the way.)
This month ushers in even more options, delivering flavors from Burma and Korea. Below is a guide to three more new or coming-soon restaurants to add to your dining list.
MinGaLaBar Burmese Kitchen: Open since early July and with their official ribbon-cutting on July 28, this family-owned restaurant offers a taste of the owners’ favorite recipes from their home country of Burma (known as Myanmar). The country borders India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand, so you might notice some familiar formats and flavors from those cuisines (fried rice, veggie fritters, samosas, fish sauce, turmeric), but the signature Burmese dishes on MinGaLaBar’s menu deliver something totally unique. Rainbow Salad ($11.99), with noodles, green papaya, crispy onions and tamarind sauce, is the ideal summer dish. It’s also one of the most popular street foods in Myanmar. Bonus: Through Aug. 4, you can get a 20% discount on all food purchases in honor of their grand opening. (8134 Douglas Ave., Urbandale; mingalabarkitchen.com)
Jenny Lee’s Korean American Kitchen: This spot was formerly located inside the kitchen at Boomer’s Bicycle Lounge in West Des Moines, but owner Jenny Lee Symonds now has her own brick and mortar to call home. Find it in the space that’s previously housed Unrvld and King Smoke Texas Barbecue. Grab a seat in the dining room or on the patio and be sure to bring your appetite. The fast-casual restaurant’s large menu gives a nod to Korean street food, American food trends, Symonds’ favorite cuisine from her childhood in Southern California, and other Asian-inspired dishes. Case in point: the KBBQ Bowl ($14) served with rice, veggies, kimchi, scallions, sesame and your choice of protein (try the “fire chicken”). Wine slushies, beer, spiked seltzers and sodas are also available. (3701 E.P. True Parkway, West Des Moines; jenny lee kitchen.com)
DZÔ Korean BBQ: Watch DZÔ Korean BBQ’s Facebook page for your next culinary adventure. At this Korean barbecue restaurant, diners will be able to order off a menu, or if you’re inspired to DIY, grab a grill-topped table and choose your meat (say, marinated bulgogi, rib-eye or brisket) to cook yourself and enjoy alongside banchan, a spread of classic Korean sides. (2611 Ingersoll Ave.; facebook.com/dzokoreanbbq)