chicken pesto

Grain Lab, Burbank

Grain Lab

1737 N Victory Pl

Burbank, CA 91502

It's not easy to start and run a business, let alone a restaurant. Being a previous restaurant owner, I can relate to the hardships, the ups, and the downs that it all brings. I can also admire the persistence to make it work, especially when it runs in your blood.

Grain Lab in Burbank is the true definition of a mom and pop, but interestingly enough, you would never guess it. Everything from their website, to their decor was so aesthetically pleasing, one can only assume it is backed by a larger corporation with multiple locations, and the capital to hire some serious interior designers.  That is why I was so shocked to learn that this is far from the case.

By some cosmic luck where the stars, the moon, and the sun were all aligned, Grain Lab came into fruition. This journey starts with Timothy Kang, when he helped his mom come up with a new concept for a restaurant after their previous franchise lease (Great Steak Potato Co.) was up. Remember I said it runs in their blood.  From there, they hired a design contractor, hired his roommate chef named Flavi, and voila! Grain Lab was born.

Soon after, the demands of the restaurant called for Timothy to quit his job to tend to the business, where he, on the daily, practices the art of maintaining food that we like, getting it local, trying to keep the prices as reasonable as possible, all while being sustainable at the same time. Undeniably a difficult challenge for anyone.

Alright, enough of the history. On to the foodstuff...

When I first examined the menu, I was so happy to see that I can get healthy food that I actually looked forward to eating. This time I made a conscious effort not to go for the cheesiest, and fattiest item on the menu. And I did so only with minimal regret. See, I'm finally growing up.

For my main dish, I ordered the Tony's Pork Belly Bowl.  This is made with kimchi that they make in-house, grilled vegetables, brown rice, garnished and topped with their red pepper paste.

Chicken Pesto sandwich with a side of baby mix greens with vinaigrette on ciabatta bread.

Tomato Basil soup. So light and refreshing. Tomato-ey with a hint of basil. Will be coming back for this, as I'm such a soup lover.

And probably my favorite dish out of all of them, the Asian Chicken Salad. Not your typical salad. Made with mixed greens. Mango. Jicama. Grilled Pineapple. Toasted Coconut. with a side of Lychee vinaigrette. Wow. I was never the kind of person who liked sweet with my savory dishes, but my palette is changing and now I look forward to it.  I feel like the fruit added so much freshness in every bite. And the lychee dressing, so delicious I could drink it. Another awesome point to mention is that they don't skimp on the chicken.

And to top it all off, Grain Lab's very own chocolate chip cookie. Hardly sweetened except for the apple sauce that they use in place of butter, and the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Truthfully, this is exactly how I like my desserts, more on the healthy side and not very sweet. So if you're the type that wants a super buttery, super sweet cookie, then this probably isn't the cookie for you. But to me, it was so good I devoured it all in one sitting.

At Grain Lab, they don't have any microwaves or freezers. They buy local when they can. They believe in clean, simple and honest food, exemplified in everything I ordered. Grain Lab can accommodate vegans, vegetarians, pescatarian, gluten intolerant, etc. This place has the potential for expansion but it needs our support of their mission, embodied in their slogan, "Be Concious, Support Local, Eat Grain Lab."

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