La Verne Magazine
"La Verne's Small-Town Businesses"
Tiny Asian Restaurant Satisfies Big Appetites
by Laura Czingula
photography by Ryan Sones
Myung Kim prepares detectible eats for hungry customers in a room no
larger that a motor home kitchen. The Bowl House, whose specialty is teriyaki
beef and chicken bowls, received a "thumbs-up" review from the
The scent of fried rice, spicy chicken and cooked noodles is what someone
can smell half a mile down the street from the Bowl House.
Although it is practically hidden from the community and is considered
just a little hole-in-the-wall establishment, the Bowl House is one of the
most popular Asian food restaurants in La Verne.
The Bowl House is owned and operated by husband and wife duo Myung and
Choung Kim. The Kims were both born in Korea but lived in New York most
of their lives, until they moved to California about four years ago.
"We came to California because my wife's family was here,"
says Myung. "And they [Choung's family] were wanting us to come out
"We had experience for the business. We had a family restaurant,
but it was too big for us to deal with," says Myung.
However, when they arrived in California, they decided to give it another
try. That is when they opened up the Bowl House a year and a half ago, located
on Third Street right next to the barber shop and across the street from
the University of La Verne.
"We know a lot about the food business; it's the only business
I know," says Myung.
Although the Bowl House is small, that was exactly what Myung was looking
"I could not afford a big business," he says. "I was
looking for a small business, and there was a lot of potential at this place
because of the college."
The first year was a struggle for the new restaurant owners, but once
the Bowl House had established itself and received a great review from the
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, the business started booming about six months
When actor Christian Slater was an inmate at the La Verne jail, which
is right next store to the Bowl House, the Kims say he ate there all of
"When he [Slater] was released from the jail, he came over to us
and thanked us for our service," says Myung.
The Bowl House offers basic Japanese food, with a mixture of Korean
and Chinese food as well.
"I serve Japanese food, but not the old Japanese food," says
Myung. Myung says his Japanese food is more Americanized.
Myung and his wife do all their own shopping for the Bowl House at the
distributing company Ciscos. That is where they buy all their supplies that
they need to keep the restaurant up and going. They receive their meat from
a wholesale company.
"I go to the market a couple times a week," says Myung.
Asked who the cook was, Myung laughs and replies, "My wife and
I cook. There cannot be more than two people in the kitchen; it is too small."
Those who have eaten at the Bowl House would understand why Myung laughed.
The place is basically a tiny little area that only allows one person in
at a time. However, there is a couple of chairs and tables with umbrellas
over them out in front of the store on the sidewalk for Bowl House customers.
"The store is so small that one time Bonita High School tried to
order a really big order of chicken bowls. We couldn't do it; it was too
much for the small restaurant," he says.
The couple arrives at the restaurant around 9 a.m. every morning, except
on Sundays when they are closed. The Bowl House is open from 10 a.m-8 p.m
Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday.
"Basically, we don't have a social life," says Myung. "Except
on Sundays, when we go to church, that is the only social thing we do. We
do the same thing every day. We get up, come to the store, and then go home
and go to bed and get up the next morning to come in again."
The menu consists of only 11 items, all of which are very popular. One
favorite is the chicken bowl, which comes with steamed rice, vegetables
and teriyaki sauce. Myung says almost 70 percent of his customers prefer
the chicken bowl over everything else.
"I think the chicken bowl is the most popular among customers because
I trim the chicken and I take off the fat, so there is almost no fat on
the chicken. I trim and chop, and that is a lot of work,"says Myung.
The second runner up for the most popular menu item is the Teriyaki
bowl. And that probably has something to do with the fact that Myung makes
a special teriyaki sauce that is a secret family recipe.
"The teriyaki sauce has been around a long time in my family; everyone
likes it," he says. "Maybe people like it because the teriyaki
sauce has no grease."
Also available on the Bowl House menu for vegetarians is a Tofu bowl,
which has a unique taste about it, because, according to Myung, he does
not do what other restaurants do. He has his own tofu recipe that is different
from any other restaurants, and he says, his tastes good.
The newest item on the menu is the hot and spicy chicken, which Myung
makes totally by himself.
"I put it on the menu because people like hot and spicy food,"
says Myung. "But it was only temporarily, I didn't think people would
want it during the hot weather. But people like hot food even though it
is hot weather," he says. "So now it is on the menu for good."
The Kim's menu is reasonable. The most expensive item on the menu is
the California roll with the Udon soup at $5.95. Other than that everything
else costs from $3 to $4.
"We try and give good, fast food. People want that," says
Myung. "Our food is not greasy, and maybe it is so popular because
people like the combination of different foods. Plus, we have a friendly
atmosphere, and our food is relatively cheap."
Myung is looking into making the Bowl House into a chain of restaurants.
Right now, he is considering some places in Claremont and Ontario.
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