TKO – Korean-American street food stand to open in southern food store

Chef Lino Yi’s TKO, a Korean-American street food concept that first launched as a pop-up in April 2021, is set to open its first physical location in East Atlanta’s Southern Feedstore in September. 2022. Short for “The Korean One,” the 400-square-foot counter-service menu will serve lunch, dinner, and late-night weekends.

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TKO started as a one-night pop-up at Ration & Dram and has since surfaced at restaurants across the city including Full Commission, Sweet Auburn BBQ, Buteco, Georgia Beer Garden and more. As Lino puts it, the menu at the new food stall is “familiar but foreign and foreign but familiar.” It will feature dishes the pop-up has become known for, such as Volcanic Hot Dog with Krab Salad and Eel Sauce, Korean Fried Chicken Nuggets, Kimchi Fried Rice, Korean Corn Dogs and a basket of shrimp with kimchi aioli and waffle fries. You can take food from the restaurant and enjoy it in the common seating area in the dining room or take away.

“Like my own upbringing, I form a bridge between Korean and American cultures and traditions,” Lino said in a statement. “Growing up, our Thanksgiving dinners had turkey and gravy and Korean barbecue and kimchi. There’s an amalgamation of new and retro called Newtro in Korean culture. It’s modernized retro, this which I also want to represent in my kitchen. I want to show respect for the rich history of Korean and American cuisine, but I want to modernize them with new techniques and new ingredients.

Growing up in America in a Korean family, Lino got his start in the kitchen through his parents. They opened a Korean restaurant, Korean Kitchen, in 2007 in Orlando, where he grew up. At 22, Lino worked in the restaurant kitchen and learned a lot about cooking as well as Korean culture, tradition and family. Once the recession hit in 2010, they closed the restaurant and Lino swore he would open a Korean kitchen one day. With TKO, he is looking forward to achieving that goal.

Currently, Lino serves as a sous chef to acclaimed Atlanta semi-finalist James Beard, Lazy Betty, where he has transitioned to his current role for the past three and a half years. He will remain in this position until the official opening of TKO. Before Lazy Betty, Lino moved to Atlanta in 2015 and worked at Makan in Decatur, which became Taiyo Ramen, and eventually worked his way up to executive chef for four years. He has also worked in a movie theater as a projectionist, at Publix as a baker and as a food truck chef.

Chef Aaron Phillips of Lazy Betty, Juniper Cafe and the upcoming Humble Pie, and Atlanta beverage industry veterinarian Carl Van Tyle Gilbert, also co-owner of Juniper Cafe and Humble Pie, will serve as partners.

TKO will be open daily for lunch and dinner, and late at weekends.