Smile Politely

Yori Q should be on your lunch list

Yori Q opened in the summer of 2015 in the space formerly occupied by Kamakura. The building is almost unnoticeable, and were it not for the large Yori Q sign above, you might even drive by a few times before finding it. This Korean/Asian Fusion restaurant is worth finding, especially if you’re looking for an affordable lunch.

The interior décor is clean and a little cozy — there is plenty of decorative word art throughout the restaurant. The warm neutrals and woods create an inviting atmosphere. The bathroom décor is fun and playful, too. 

The menu is fairly extensive, with some fusion-ish items like kimchi fries and bulgogi burgers in addition to Korean favorites. Appetizers range in price from $5 to $7; entrées $7 (ramen) to $32 (spicy whole crab hot pot). Kids meals are $5. There’s a $23 all-you-can-eat grill, which might be fun with a small group of people. I had lunch at the restaurant twice recently. The prices were right ($8 to $11), and the portions were generous.

I started with the kimchi fries ($7): waffle fries topped with stir fried kimchi. The portion was large enough to share with four people, especially as a starter. The kimchi was vinegary and tangy, but not too spicy. I’m generally not a fan of mayo-based sauces, but these were spicy and flavorful and served as a binder for the kimchi and fries. The fries were under cooked — they were a little too soft under the toppings. 

The rice bowl with spicy pork (lunch, $8) arrived in a piping hot stone bowl. The pork was tender and spicy. The onions were crisp-tender and tasty, but they were it for veggies, save for a little cabbage. There was quite a bit of food, and I ended up taking some home. (That never happens to me.) And for only $8? Awesome. 

A friend ordered the bulgogi lunch box ($11), which comes with the diner’s choice of three soups or a house salad. She selected the salad. The salad arrived first and was pretty straightforward: lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, ginger dressing. It was tasty, though. The adorable box arrived shortly thereafter with items in each little space(beef, rice, potato salad, fish cakes, spicy cucumber salad). The beef was tender and sweet, the potato salad vinegary, garlicky, and quite salty. On a second visit another friend ordered the exact same thing, but the server brought out the sides before the food arrived, with the house salad. When her lunch box arrived, the same salads were in the box, and she basically received a double order of sides. 

The chicken teriyaki rice bowl ($8) contained large pieces of chicken, onion, a few carrot shreds, and a healthy dose of scallions in a hot stone bowl. The teriyaki sauce was present, but not overwhelming. The bulgogi rice bowl ($8) had the same stir fried veggies. The beef was tender and a little sweet, consistent with the lunch box. The amount of food was plenty for one for lunch. 

The dessert menu includes bubble tea (cold, $5), bingsoo (shaved ice cream, $5), ice cream ($3), and chap cake ($7; with ice cream, $10). Bingsoo is not currently in season, but I was assured that the restaurant will have it when it’s seasonally appropriate. (I’m not really sure what that means, honestly.) 

On my first visit, I ordered the taro bubble tea. It was served in a mason jar, which was unexpected, and seemed to me to nod to the décor in the space. I prefer my bubble tea hot, especially in the winter, but this iced drink was an indulgent way to end a meal: it was sweet and milky, with almost no trace of tea flavor. On my second visit, the restaurant was out of the tapioca bubbles, so instead we opted to share the chap cake with ice cream. Chap cake is mochi that has been diced up, and in this case, topped with vanilla ice cream, walnuts, and chocolate and condensed milk drizzles. The mochi was chewy, the nuts a little crunchy, and with the soft ice cream and chocolate sauce, really quite tasty and texturally interesting. It was certainly a shareable portion, but if you’re looking to indulge, ain’t no shame in ordering one for yourself. 

The service on both occasions was polite and consistent. There were a few other parties there during lunch; I imagine now that the students are back it might be a little busier.

Yori Q is a solid option if you’re looking for lunch outside of Downtown: there is free parking, the lunch prices are more than affordable, and you’ll get your fill of food. With a cheap kids menu, it may also be a good option if you’re looking to introduce the little ones to Korean food.

Yori Q is located at 715 South Neil Street, Champaign. It’s open for lunch, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and for dinner daily from 5 to 10 p.m.

Photos by Jessica Hammie. 

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