New additions to Columbia's food and beverage scene share Asian-focused menus ranging from Japanese and Pan-Asian to Latin-Asian fusion. Two come from the All In Hospitality group — best known for Publico — and one from the owners of Menkoi Ramen House. There's also a spin-off location of a cult favorite convenience store.
All In Hospitality to open new restaurant, second Publico location
The All In Hospitality Group is set to open Boku Kitchen and Saloon in The Vista and a second Publico location in the BullStreet District.
Owner of Publico and a founding member of the All in Hospitality Group Mike Duganier wanted to bring “something Columbia doesn’t have” with his latest Pan-Asian restaurant — Boku Kitchen and Saloon. This concept is inspired by the vibrancy of the graffiti art at the Wynwood Walls, according to Duganier.
“We wanted to get a little bit of Miami up here,” Duganier said. “That's why you got these color schemes, so the atmosphere is fun.”
As for the food, expect Asian influences with noodle dishes, bao buns and poke bowls. Durganier said the menu is “wok heavy."
Another key aspect of Boku is their bar program, which Duganier said will focus on Tiki-inspired cocktails, wine and sake.
“I'm going to have on our menu a sake and wine pairing with every menu item,” Duganier said. “Then we're going to offer three different sakes: a lower premium, middle tier and a premium sake that if you want it hot, you can choose.”
Duganier said his goal is to find more enjoyable ways to experience your drink of choice. However, there is another option for those who wish to avoid alcohol and maintain the feeling of having a drink.
“We're having two cocktails on tap that are mocktails and then what you can do is — if you don't want to drink alcohol, you can have those,” Duganier said.
Boku will occupy the former Sure Fire Tacos space at 916 Gervais Street. It will open in the coming weeks.
Publico Kitchen and Tap’s second Columbia location will also open in the BullStreet District.
Duganier described this location as “Publico 2.0.” The newest iteration of the Publico concept is set to open in the Ensor Building adjacent to Segra Park.
“I'm gonna put our turf on our patio so it's gonna pet friendly and have that grass feeling,” Duganier said. “There's four garage doors right there so in the nice weather we’ll have all four doors up, which then brings the inside outside.”
One can expect the same style of food that's at the Five Points Publico, Duganier said.
“We're not looking to be cookie cutter, but we want you to walk in where we're familiar enough and you're like, ‘Oh, it's Publico,’” Duganier said.
Owners of Menkoi Ramen House to open carryout Japanese restaurant
Furusato Bento will be a grab-and-go Japanese restaurant in Five Points opened by the owners of the Menkoi Ramen House.
“They're just gonna be handmade bento boxes with Japanese cuisine,” Taishi Sato, the son of Furusato's owner, said. “And then we'll have Japanese drinks and snacks that you can pick up as well within the convenience store.”
Customers can expect to find Japanese classics like Tempura, Udon and Teriyaki in the bento boxes.
Furusato Bento is located on the corner of Harden and Greene Streets, across from Group Therapy. Furusato will open daily at 9:00 a.m. to allow students to pick up lunch before classes.
“Students and people who are wanting just like a quick lunch can just come in and grab and go,” Sato said.
Sato said Furusato Bento will hopefully open in February.
Shiv’s Convenience Store opens related location
The popular Main Street convenience store, known for its beer, wine and seltzer sales, announced via Instagram its second location, Patel’s Convenience.
Sejal Patel, wife of owner Bakul Patel, said business is just starting to pick up, even though the shop opened in December.
“We’ve seen days with people coming in, but we shut down for a month [to travel],” Patel said. “So, now [college] kids know and they come over here.”
The store is open daily at 1015 Whaley Street, across from the YOUnion.