September 28, 2022


Cooking is a hobby

MIX opens Marion’s first Chinese hot pot, Korean restaurant

The coconut curry and mushroom broth very hot pot at Blend in Marion, Iowa on Thursday, April 21, 2022. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

Vegetables can be added to the broth of the hot pots at Mix in Marion, Iowa on Thursday, April 21, 2022. The cafe features a selection of broth and meat solutions. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

Veggies can be included to the broth of the hot pots at Blend in Marion, Iowa on Thursday, April 21, 2022. The cafe gives a assortment of broth and meat solutions. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

The inside of of Mix is large and all tables element a very hot plate for desk incredibly hot pots at Blend in Marion, Iowa on Thursday, April 21, 2022. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

The coconut curry and mushroom broth very hot pot at Mix in Marion, Iowa on Thursday, April 21, 2022. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

A range of veggies and meats of your alternative are out there to put in the hot pots at Blend in Marion, Iowa on Thursday, April 21, 2022. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

MARION — A new cuisine typically available only in cities the dimension of Minneapolis and Chicago has joined the eclectic variety of restaurants in uptown Marion.

Combine, previously positioned in the Armstrong Centre in downtown Cedar Rapids, marks a several firsts of its variety: the initially Chinese very hot pot restaurant of its form in the Corridor, the initial Korean cafe in Marion and probable the only restaurant in Iowa with very hot pot, Korean and sushi underneath one particular roof.

“Cities the dimensions of Cedar Rapids or Marion never necessarily have the inhabitants or diversity to have a hot pot restaurant, a bunch of sushi or Korean restaurants,” said Kyle Franklin, co-proprietor of the cafe. “We came up with the plan wherever we could put it all collectively.”

If you go:

What: Blend

Where: 1138 Seventh Ave., Marion

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Cellular phone: (319) 200-1028

Site: (Will be current quickly.)

Information: Menu offerings shortly will be accessible by using 3rd-celebration shipping and delivery providers. The web page, when up-to-date, will supply on the net ordering and reservations for hot pot tables. Fifty percent of sizzling pot tables will be available for reservations.

The scorching pot working experience

Hot pot provides a new foods and an immersive social encounter to the desk as opposed to most sorts of restaurants.

Combine is the to start with restaurant in the Corridor with long lasting electrical incredibly hot pot burners developed into each and every table. Other very hot pot encounters, couple of and much involving at mainly Szechuan eating places in Iowa, normally involve a non permanent burner brought to the desk.

To buy incredibly hot pot, your bash could choose up to two soup broths to share. Flavors assortment from the standard with beef bone broth, taro root and classic spices to the savory mushroom or the Tom Yum, an excess spicy Thai alternative with selfmade shrimp stock and lemon grass.

Each individual table is given a plate of traditional vegetables and meats including lotus root, watercress, cabbage, mushrooms, fish ball and Asian-fashion meatballs.

“Since we’re the very first types to do it in the spot and folks are not acquainted with it, it forces persons to attempt it how it is intended to be tried out,” Franklin said.

Diners can pick out their individual meat selection. The meat picked establishes the price of sizzling pot, which is priced per individual.

With a pair of tongs, diners cook their have meat and vegetables by dropping them into the boiling broth with tongs. Just after a couple of minutes, diners ladle their soup into a bowl.

Hot pots can be ordered with any range of diners and accommodate huge teams very well. Dividers at each substantial table, which has various burners, make it possible for distinct sizing functions to share tables.

Though the soup bases supply intricate, nuanced flavors, the ingredients by themselves are very simple. The incredibly hot pot encounter, Franklin said, lets the simplicity of superior food items to glow as a result of.

“You never comprehend how extremely organized food is when you go out to consume at American eating places,” he explained. “This will allow persons, likely for the to start with time, to flavor substances real to their real flavor. It is bought a minor taste of the broth, but you can flavor the greens themselves.”

And as the place enjoys a new variety of delicacies, the social expertise brought to the table allows other individuals reconnect over a food by means of the communal expertise, much too.

“After COVID, this is going to be a great way to sit down and connect with your friends,” Franklin said. “Take a break from the realities of the globe and get back again to the basic principles.”

Expanded Korean menu, sushi bar

In addition to sizzling pot, an expansive Korean menu and sushi bar much surpasses what Combine made available in Cedar Rapids.

The new Marion cafe delivers every thing from mainstream favorites like bulgogi, a sweet marinated beef, to much less prevalent regular dishes like Haemul Jjim, a sweet and spicy stir fry with shell fish kinds.

In addition to very hot pot, 3 common clay pot Korean soups are on the menu. Aung, a native of Myanmar with years of encounter cooking at Korean places to eat, folds Burmese influences into options like the very hot and bitter soup.

All Korean entrees and soups come with a rotating assortment of banchan — Korean side dishes like seasoned spinach and kimchi. The significant menu doesn’t sacrifice authenticity to appease nearby palates.

“I’ve been cooking supper every single Sunday for my good friends for 20 many years now,” Franklin mentioned. “I know what persons like, I know what I like.”

Accurate to their name, their solution is fewer rigid than at many standard Asian dining places, due to the fact it mixes and matches distinctive things and components to offer artistic new fusions — not a “take it or go away it” frame of mind that Franklin said some restaurants have.

Noteworthy Korean appetizers include things like the Tteok-Bokki, Korean fish cakes with carrots, cabbage, a spicy sauce and mozzarella cheese.

With a sushi bar prominently displayed in the heart of the dining area, an expanded sushi menu rivals choices from nearby eating places focused only to sushi. But a further fresh new fish menu features new riffs on seafood-based Asian dishes like swordfish steak satay or mahi laksa, a bowl of pan-seared mahi swimming in rice noodles and a Malaysian broth.


Bottle-only beer imports will spherical out the worldwide vibes of Mix, in addition to a collection of wines handpicked by Initial Avenue Wine Property in Cedar Rapids.

A wall of slushy consume varieties adds a pop of shade to the contemporary interior’s palette of darkish graphite and glimmering black tables, without the need of relying on bottles of liquor. Slushies, designed with out alcohol, can be purchased with liquor combined in.

The transfer to Marion

For Franklin and co-owner Bryan Aung, who began Combine Sushi & Kitchen in 2019, the vision at the outset didn’t involve warm pot or Marion — at first, they just wanted to do Korean and sushi perfectly, together with a sampling of other Asian and Pacific island cuisines on the menu.

Franklin, a Cedar Rapids indigenous, under no circumstances had Marion on his radar. But with persuasion from Mayor Nick AbouAssaly, the proprietors of the nearby Hip-stir, and an insistent Real estate agent, the eyesight arrived to life in Marion’s promptly acquiring uptown district. Blend opened the week of April 18 at the Seventh Avenue location formerly occupied by the City Pie pizzeria.

“The city of Marion was far more open minded to my notion,” Franklin stated soon after beating regulatory hurdles for the tables that allow diners cook the food at their personal desk. “I bought energized about this spot. Marion has such a nicely imagined-out prepare.”

That prepare necessary intensive investigation into how dining establishments in metropolitan areas like Minneapolis had been in a position to present scorching pot without the need of expense-prohibitive ventilation equipment. With no open flame at tables and only steam coming off of warm pot soup, Franklin was in a position to present the metropolis of Marion that scorching pot tables ended up safe and sound to provide in the eating room.

“Cool things do not happen until anyone essentially attempts to do it,” he said. “I consider we would’ve performed perfectly in Cedar Rapids, but I consider we’ll do even greater here.”

The solar dragon roll at Combine in Marion, Iowa on Thursday, April 21, 2022. The cafe options Korean dishes, scorching pots and sushi. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

The seafood pancake with a soy dipping sauce at Blend in Marion, Iowa on Thursday, April 21, 2022. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

Warm plates sit at just about every table at Blend for their desk warm pot option at Mix in Marion, Iowa on Thursday, April 21, 2022. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

Opinions: (319) 398-8340 [email protected]