Crispy Cloud, a new Korean fusion eatery with a health conscious approach, opened in Oakland Gardens earlier this month.
It marks the fourth business opening that the owner Angela Yoon has spearheaded since she was 23 years old.
“Every morning I come to work, I feel excited,” Yoon said at her newest storefront that opened on Nov. 5. “Even though I’m tired from the day before, as soon as I walk into my business I get energy from it.”
The spot on 48th Avenue has a wide ranging menu that includes acai bowls, smoothies and fruit topped waffles. But what sets it apart from other establishments is its unique twist on Korean classics.
Bi bim bap, one of the most well known Korean dishes, can be found at dozens of eateries in the area. But Crispy Cloud offers a build your own approach to the rice bowl that is generally topped with veggies, a choice of protein and a sunny side egg.
Yoon says that the customizable approach for the popular dish is rare, and as far as she knows, Crispy Cloud is the only establishment that lets you customize your bi bim bap with proteins such as bulgogi and butter garlic shrimp and up to six veggies, either fresh or sauteed.
“When you order bim bap, you have no choice. At our place you get to pick whatever you want,” said Yoon, adding that she was excited to unveil the concept that has been on her mind for over a decade.
It’s not the first time that she experimented with twists on classics. When she owned a similar eatery in Palisades, New Jersey, she says she was the first in the area to experiment with different acai bowl bases such as pure coconut and pure mango. Crispy Cloud also uniquely offers matcha green tea as one of their bases for acai bowls.
The restaurant’s name comes from the crispy touch on their taiyaki, a fish shaped pastry that can be filled with traditional red bean paste or nutella, among other fillings. And the silkiness of the gelato that the spot offers made Yoon think of a cloud.
Crispy Cloud also offers kim bob, a Korean roll with proteins such as spicy tuna and dry spicy squid, along with Korean toast, a street food staple that Yoon substitutes with boiled eggs instead of fried to in an effort to offer healthy options.
Yoon found out that the former eatery in its place, TMB Chicken, was for sale from the owner several months ago. After recently buying another storefront from the same owner in Murray Hill, that she converted into Mukbang just months before, she sprang on the idea to continue planting business roots in Queens.
At Mukbang on 150th Street in Murray Hill, the offerings are almost identical except for the customizable bi bim bap that is unique to Crispy Cloud. Mukbang is named after food videos where large amounts of food are consumed with an ASMR touch that originated in South Korea.
“I want more people to come in and try our food, not just Koreans,” said Yoon, who hopes to appeal to a range of people in the community.
Rick, a local resident, stopped by for the second time since the store opened last week. Hetold QNS he prefers to give his business to good quality establishments and small businesses rather than the big chains in the area.
While he misses TMB Chicken, which was previously housed at Crispy Cloud’s 48th Avenue location, and said had the best fried chicken in the area, Rick is thrilled that a healthy spot with a range of options swooped in. He only wishes that they would join forces.
TMB Chicken appealed to a more late night crowd, so once Yoon took over ownership she spruced it up with fresh paint and new lighting to brighten the place up.
For now, Yoon mostly runs the place herself, with help from her sister and husband, but eventually she hopes to bring on some staff once the place becomes more established in the community. She also recently moved to Murray Hill from New Jersey to be closer to her two businesses.
The first business she even ran was a pool hall in Morristown, New Jersey. But after getting tired of working nights, she sold the establishment after 17 years. She then went on to sell a Korean eatery that she opened and ran for nine years in Palisades, New Jersey, to establish herself in Queens. Both businesses in New Jersey remain open under different owners.
“I guess it’s in my genes,” said Yoon, stressing the importance of consistency when it comes to running a business that keeps customers coming back.
For now, Crispy Cloud is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.