By Tiffany Ran
Northwest Asian Weekly
Chef Kevin Chung is passionate about many aspects of cooking, including ramen and bread making for example, but Chung is more than just a craftsman in his trade. Upon opening 8 Oz Burger in Capitol Hill, Chung turned what was thought at the time to be a humble location in the 8 Oz Burger chain (compared to Miami Beach) into a successful operation in an area of Seattle where restaurant saturation is at its peak.
Chung loves food, but he is also a chef with business acumen. He observed the International District neighborhood for some time, noting the massive lunch crowds, foot traffic, and the lack of Western cuisine in lunch options for businesses and office buildings. Chung always had a running list of restaurant concepts in his head, including a fast-casual version of 8 Oz Burger, but when Great State Burger opened in the newly refurbished Publix building, Chung decided to strike while the iron was hot with an entirely new concept. He opened Cheese Meats Bread in the Uwajimaya Food Court last month, offering a menu of craft grilled cheese sandwiches, ranging from interesting to inventive.
For Chung, the idea for his grilled cheese concept stems from a childhood favorite, when his mother used to make him grilled cheese with Kraft singles and a side of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. A Cheese Meats Bread sandwich may have the cheese, meat, and bread, but it won’t be what the average person expects from a grilled cheese. For instance, an aptly named item called “the Mac” is a grilled cheese sandwich oozing with mac and cheese. In lieu of the standard French Fries, Chung opted for Mexi Tots, topped with cheese sauce, chorizo, crema, and pico de gallo.
“The way I do a menu is that I want to do an item where people have had it, but they haven’t had it this way.
The Saigon is basically a tuna melt banh mi combo. Most people have had either or. I thought it would be cooler to bring together the flavors. …I have a Seattle one called the 206, it’s just your Seattle Dog like when you go to a hot dog stand in Capitol Hill. It has cream cheese, grilled jalapenos, sauerkraut, and polish sausage,” said Chung.
Cheese Meats Bread also serves similarly inventive Full Tilt ice cream milkshakes, like the Salted Caramel with pretzel crumbs and caramel, a Green Tea Nutella, and a PB&J with strawberry compote and peanut sauce. To fit its internationally inspired grilled cheese options, it also offers a wide range of hot sauces from different regions of the world, enough for one to try a different kind with each bite. Cheese Meats Bread is set up for take-out, but visitors can dine in at the limited seats beneath the restaurant’s row of cheese grater lights or skip the line entirely by ordering via delivery apps UberEats and Postmates.
Fast-casual is big these days, and so is cheese. The combination of the two is one Chung is excited to see unfold in the International District, where similar concepts are, at present, minimal. The Seattle area is fast changing, he concedes. In the past, he loved ramen so much that he even considered opening an upscale ramen spot, which would today be in competition with many prestigious Tokyo chains that have opened in Seattle. Instead, Chung went with burgers and grilled cheese, a winning combination that proves popular and remains unmatched.
For more information on Cheese Meats Bread, visit cheesemeatsbread.org.
Tiffany can be reached at email@example.com.