By Sheena Williams
Killeen Daily Herald
One step into Killeen's O-Mart transports you to the Asian markets of the East. The space warp is complete with Korean R&B streaming out of overhead speakers, to the gender specific cookies and racks of packaged dried squid.
Inside the shopping center, tucked away by layers of plastic foliage is O-Mart's restaurant, which serves as a one-stop-shop for Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisine that offers quick oriental meals with fresh authentic flavors.
While enjoying a plate of bulgogi, a Korean grilled beef and rice meal, Capt. Steve Wakefield, a half-Korean soldier from the 1st Medical Brigade's 21st Combat Support Hospital, explained that the restaurant's service was one of the reasons he decided to lunch there.
"Especially for me, being in the Army, the fast-food service is really convenient because I can order what I want, get my food quickly and get back to work," said Wakefield, while finishing up his plate. "Plus the bulgogi was grilled pretty good so I'd definitely come back again."
The restaurant showcases authentic Korean dishes like bean paste soup, while offering Korean style Chinese and Japanese foods that are popular with Americans.
Insuk Catala, the Korean joint owner of the restaurant, explained that having a variety of food is important because one of the goals of the restaurant is to bring people together no matter what flavor they're in to.
"Not everyone wants the same thing," Catala said. "For example there are a lot of Korean Americans who are married to Americans. So when the couple comes to our restaurant, we have something for both of them. They can both sit and enjoy our food together."
From the jalapenos that garnish the pork bulgogi, to the sides of pickled cucumbers, Catala explained that fresh and healthy is the Korean way.
Each ingredient featured in every dish at the restaurant is prepared fresh each day and Catala explained that the behind-the-scenes process of starting over every day may be tedious, but the food speaks for itself.
"What we strive for are bigger portions, fast service and over all of that, good food. We don't fry a lot of our foods and we add vegetables in our dishes because it's the traditional recipe and because it adds flavor," Catala said. "And making everything fresh each day is the right way and the best tasting way, so that's why it's our way."
The shopping center also offers a beauty supply store, seafood market, photo center and cafe. Catala explained that when the market moved to its present larger complex, years ago, the restaurant was also a necessary addition to add to the convenience of the shopping experience.
"We wanted to serve our customers better. We wanted our customers to be able to order their food, shop a little bit, get everything they needed and eat good food afterwards," said Catala.