One of the things I love about Warner Robins are all the Asian restaurants. You could drive a mile in any direction and have your pick of Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Filipino and, of course, Korean food. There's also a Vietnamese restaurant in the works, too.
One restaurant I was more than surprised to learn was absolutely delicious was Yoko Restaurant over on Elberta Road. I've driven by the location a few dozen times. In all honesty, the sign out front looked a little run-down and the building just plain ... well, plain. But walk inside and it shines like a pretty new penny. You've got elegant furniture, a tastefully decorated, well-lit bar and a karaoke stage complete with Asian-influenced art work and treasures on various shelves.
A few co-workers and I ventured in for a late lunch since the place only stays open from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. during the week. If you've never had Korean food, that's OK. In every Asian menu, there's always something to tempt the appetite of the curious American.
Some Korean foods are more spicy than others. For example, if you're willing, try a little kimchee, which is a cabbage dish peppered with hot spices. Be cautious as to what you order though. If you're not sure what you're doing, ask first.
I decided to try the beef bulgogi, a thinly sliced meat cooked in a teriyaki sauce. I've come to love bulgogi, thanks to the expert culinary skills of my sister-in-law and her husband, who also happens to be Korean.
My beef bulgogi came in a bento box, which comes with a salad, steamed or fried rice, clear rice noodles, soup and two vegetable and meat dumplings. Not bad for under $8.
I absolutely love bento boxes, which are trays that have little compartments for individual side items. I loved the fact, too, that at Yoko's they put out a set of chopsticks wrapped in a napkin. No forks around for miles, unless you ask. I've always thought eating with chopsticks slows down the eating experience, so you can savor your food and not shove everything into your mouth with a fork.
My bulgogi was cooked in a slightly sweet teriyaki sauce. Mixed with onions, it held a tender texture, was thinly layered and cut into small, bite-sized portions. This is a staple dish for any Korean-food lover.
Our waitress also brought out several side dishes to accompany the main meal. Take your pick of kimchee, bean sprouts, pickled cucumbers and other thinly-sliced vegetables.
You also have your lunchtime choice of beef, chicken, shrimp, squid and even salmon teriyaki. The prices are pretty reasonable, and the service is quick.
If you come during dinnertime you can take the lid off a part of your table and start grilling your meat and vegetables, sort of a hibachi-style set-up if you will.
If you're slightly more daring, Yoko's is also a karaoke hangout. You can sing your heart out to diners, some less than two feet from the stage, on Friday and Saturday nights beginning at 5:30 p.m. But I'm told you have to have at least 10 people in the restaurant while you sing. The more the merrier I guess.
Our experience was a pleasant one at Yoko's. I always like being surprised when I visit someplace new, and this particular Korean restaurant was a definite hit with this Asian gal.
1512 Elberta Road, Warner Robins 31093
Phone: (478) 923-4555
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 4-10 p.m., Mon-Fri.; 4-11 p.m. Saturdays; closed Sundays.
Payment: Cash, credit cards
Price: $5.99-$7.99 lunch items; up to $20 for dinner/house specialities
Children's menu: No
Vegetarian selections: Yes
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Noise level: Moderate
Latest health code rating: 100