I’ve been around long enough to remember what has occupied the building at the corner of Cornell and Campus at Irvine’s Campus Plaza. In the 90s it was once a Boston Market and then, at some point, it became a Blockbuster Video until, you know, Netflix came along.
Since 2011, it also had been the home of Koba Tofu Grill, which served Korean food. But Koba was shuttered recently and the building it occupies is now being split into two restaurants.
The first one, another outlet of The Habit Burger, Anne Marie already wrote about. But behind The Habit will be Asian Box, an Asian-styled Chipotle-like concept based out of San Francisco that already has a restaurant in L.A.
Asian Box will serve bowls constructed in the usual assembly line and the menu is outlined in the already familiar series of steps.
At Step 1, you start your box (which is what it calls its bowls) with either brown rice, jasmine, Asian salad, or chilled rice noodles. Then at Step 2, you pick your protein from a “six-spice blend” chicken, “lemongrass marinated” pork, “garlic and soy glazed” beef, “coconut curry” tofu, or “lime basil tossed” shrimp. Step 3 you can add accoutrements from an array of veggies but also crispy shallots, chopped peanuts, and caramel egg. Step 4 is saucing with options such as a tamarind vinaigrette, a peanut sauce, and something called Asian Street Dust, which Asian Box has trademarked.
Asian Box isn’t the first Asian outfit to crib the Chipotle concept. Last year, Kaya Street Kitchen opened in Aliso Viejo. And just a block away to where Asian Box will be, California Gogi Grill has made a science out of selling Korean panchan as fast food side dishes in compartmentalized boxes.