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Korean barbecue makes its mark in the Texas cradle of beef: How a new West Ave hotspot pulls off its best dish

Nara cooking video Marcy de Luna chef Donald Chang
Marcy de Luna and chef Don Chang. Photo by Joel Luks
Nara cooking video korean barbecue
The careful orchestration of the dish leads to a savory finish. Photo by Joel Luks

Bringing the flavors of Korea and Japan to the Inner Loop, Nara at West Ave's rich menu appears to be a great fit for Houston's diverse melting pot of palates. If you think Texas barbecue is tasty, wait until you taste chef Don Chang's Korean version — the rib eye rice cakes.

Crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, these golden brown, tender but sturdy cakes are loaded with juicy rib eye beef. They're enhanced with a light marinade that plays soy sauce and pineapple juice off one another for a balance that's salty and sweet. The careful orchestration of the dish leads to a savory finish — and second helpings.

Chang shares his recipe with CultureMap. For directions on how to make this treat at home, see the video above and the recipe below.

Main ingredients:

  • 3 ounces rib eye sliced very thin
  • Rice cakes, available at H Mart, Doosan or Gongju
  • olive oil for frying

Bulgogi marinade ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Korean soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 to 3 green onions, chopped


Mix the marinade in a bowl and set it aside.

Heat up olive oil in a pan. Add rice cakes and saute until lightly brown on both sides. Stack them in a shallow bowl or on a plate and set aside.

Saute the meat and marinate in the same pan used for the rice cakes until the meat is cooked to your liking. Pour the meat and sauce over rice cakes and serve.

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