Review: At this Yelp top 100 spot, Mexican meets Asian for an interesting culinary mashup

I don’t spend much time reading Yelp reviews — I like to go into most restaurants with as little knowledge as possible — but when I heard two Omaha restaurants had made the 2024 Yelp top 100, I’ll admit it. I started reading.

Corner Kitchen and its mouthwatering Instagram had been on my radar for a while, but I’d never made it to this little spot, tucked into the corner of an unassuming strip mall off 50th and F Streets. It turns out I’m not the only new visitor since that national list came out, owners Oscar and Maira Hernandez told me after I’d visited twice, once for dinner and a second time during their newer weekend brunch service. 

The Hernandezes said they didn’t know the Yelp list was coming, and actually saw it on someone else’s Instagram post; then they received an email about their inclusion from Yelp shortly after that. 

“We were shocked,” Maira said. “We had to read it like, three times.” 

The couple went on Google and looked up the list to make sure it was real. It was. 

“A lot of new people have been coming in the door, and we are so grateful for that,” Oscar said. “A lot of people are asking us how we started, and what we’re all about.” 

Count me among those.

The restaurant’s unassuming exterior.

Corner Kitchen’s name is a bit misleading. It sounds like sort of a local diner, maybe a place that serves coffee and pancakes, or a greasy spoon.

But instead, Oscar Hernandez serves a sort of Mexican-Asian fusion inspired by his hometown of Mexico City mashed up with his love of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese cuisine.

On Yelp, they are well known for dishes like the elote tots — a street food twist on totchos — and tacos stuffed with fillings like Korean pork or Brussels sprouts.

A selection of tacos.

The tacos were some of my favorite dishes we tried on our first visit, especially the surf and turf, stuffed with three medium-sized, nicely cooked shrimp and chunks of tender beef, along with raw and pickled onion and fresh chopped cilantro. The Brussels sprouts taco is singular, and I don’t think I’ve had one like it: tender, almost creamy sprouts tucked in a corn tortilla and topped with fresh greens. The Korean pork taco is one of the restaurant’s most popular, Oscar said, and I thought it had a good contrast, with tender pork and a creamy, spicy sauce, but our particular taco was quite salty. 

Elote tots are hard to argue with, and I can see why they’re continually popular: a big pile of crisp tater tots comes topped with corn, a creamy chili-lime sauce and a heavy coating of finely crumbled elote. Here and there, I saw a bright green jalapeno or two, and I’d ask for more if I ordered them again. The spice cut through the richness of the dish, which would pair perfectly with a Modelo. 

Dan Dan noodles.

The one dish I probably wouldn’t order again was the dan dan noodles. I’ve had better versions elsewhere, and for me, this one read a bit too sticky in texture — we had to work to break the mass of noodles apart — and without the Sichuan spice I’m used to in the dish. 

The Chilango burrito, named after a slang term used for Mexico City natives, is pure stoner food, if I do say so myself. An oversized tortilla is stuffed with beef barbacoa, longaniza, which is a variety of smoked sausage, bacon, sweet corn, rice, pico de gallo, beans, chile de arbol and salsa. It gave me a faint bacon cheeseburger vibe, with all the smoked meat flavors, 

Elote tots.

Another day, we went back to sample a couple of items on the restaurant’s brunch menu and had perhaps the best two things we tried: an excellent version of chilaquiles topped with tender birria and a chicken Milanese torta. 

The torta, which Maira said is in regular rotation at their home for dinner (I immediately requested an invitation) is a Mexico City staple. It’s not on the menu, but was the special of the day when we visited. A super crispy, lightly breaded chicken cutlet gets topped with cheese, refried beans, guacamole, and pickled peppers, resulting in a crunchy, creamy and rich experience. It’s one of the best tortas I’ve had in Omaha. 

I still think about the chilaquiles that chef Rene Orduna made at Dixie Quicks, and the verison at Corner Kitchen is not the same, but it’s worth trying. 

Tender, savory birria came on top of chips still partially crisp even under both red and green sauces and a runny egg. As you eat, the flavor intensifies, and so does the spice. I liked it a lot. 

The Hernandezes said they’re working on a second restaurant, a more full-service concept that’s more upscale. They plan to keep things going at the current location of Corner Kitchen, and will still do catering out of their food truck. 

“Mexican food is more than just tacos,” Oscar said. “We want to keep the fusion but put our own twists on it here and there.” 

I think many of us — Yelp fans or no — will be curious to see what comes next for this top 100 spot.

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