A new neighborhood restaurant called Humble Potato is polishing up its final stages in Westchester, with plans to open this month on Lincoln. The spot is set-up to be an American comfort restaurant with a Japanese twist, specializing in burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, fries, and homemade salads. Owner Eric Ong sweeps the elephant out of the room quickly when telling Grub Street, “We’re not trying to be Umami Burger, we’re not trying to be Father’s Office. Those guys are great, gourmet experiences. We’re more of a homemade, community, neighborly place to hang out, a cool burger and fries place.”
The owner’s parents met while studying in Tokyo, their home for over a decade. Ong says he “grew up immersed in Japanese culture,” while living in Jakarta and traveling frequently to Japan and his mother’s native Taiwan. “I grew up like a Japanese boy,” he says, “I played with the toys, the Nintendo, Ultraman. We’ve added quirky elements of some of that pop culture to the restaurant, but with a casual, laid-back L.A. feeling.”
In Indonesia, Ong’s father launched a Japanese fast food chain called Hoka Hoka Bento, what Eric refers to as “the Panda Express of Indonesia,” leading to a childhood with one knee deep in the restaurant business. “I was always around meetings and build-outs as a kid. I attended my first staff meeting at twelve.”
At Humble Potato, Ong’s menu includes “hambagas,” the Japanese term for burgers. He plans to keep the constructions light and simple, without marinating the meat to shine a light on the intrinsic taste of the Angus beef and just a kick of a Japanese flavor profile. There will be curry burgers and simple burgers with sauces made of ginger, garlic, and soy, but “nothing heavy” and all priced around six or seven bucks. Toppings like fried egg and avocado will be available, with refreshment coming from homemade jasmine ice-tea and non-alcoholic Kirin-free, a clever way to provide a form of beer without a liquor license in place. Fries will come in both standard and sweet potato iterations, with bolder options like Parmesan, shaved peppers, and curry sauce offered as toppings.
Overall, Ong says he’s just looking to provide a low-key, cool place for the neighborhood to hang-out. “Nowadays it seems like everyone’s a chef and everything is competition,” he says. “We’re not about that at all. Humble Potato is food and service focused foremost, casual, and laid-back. We strive to stay humble. It’s all in the name.”
Look for Humble Potato in the next couple of weeks at 8321 Lincoln Blvd. Westchester.