Photos by Thomas LaBelle
A long-term Hudson Valley resident puts fresh and healthy twists on traditional Korean cuisine in a cozy-cute café environment.
Tom LaBelle always dreamt of owning his own restaurant. After working in the corporate world for most of his life, he realized his vision for a multi-concept Korean eatery in February 2021, when One More Bite opened its doors on 389 Main Street in Beacon.
As Dutchess County residents can attest, Beacon is home to a diverse and eclectic food community. Having lived in the riverfront city for over 20 years, LaBelle has seen the area change tremendously. That said, one thing that had not changed much, he noticed, was the city’s lack of east-Asian dining options.
Enter One More Bite.
The Main Street eatery has everything you might expect from a Korean fusion restaurant: vegetarian kimchi, French dip báhn mìs, bulgogi hoagies, spicy BBQ chicken wings, eggrolls, and chicken katsu fingers.
The menu’s piece de resistance, however, is its specialty bowls. There are seven of them, and each one is equally delicious. LaBelle loves them all but, being a self-proclaimed “meat guy,” the spicy pork bulgogi bowl is definitely his favorite. With marinated boneless pork served on a base of white rice, the bowl is also chock full of veggies, including soy-braised Anaheim peppers, sautéed zucchini, seasoned bean sprouts, and Napa cabbage kimchi.
LaBelle is all about putting healthy twists on traditional dishes.
“I’m trying to create bowls with a plethora of vegetables to choose from,” he says. The portions of meat served are less than they would be at more traditional restaurants, making the specialty bowls the perfect option for those who want something that’s as healthy as it is delectable.
Born in Ridgewood, Queens, to an American father and South Korean mother, LaBelle has been exposed to the ins and outs of Korean cuisine since childhood. Growing up, his mother was always cooking.
“Every month we went to large parties where everyone brought different dishes,” he says. Being immersed in the world of Korean cooking as a child undoubtedly made an impact on a young LaBelle. As a young adult, LaBelle got a job as a dishwasher in a fine dining country club. Eventually, he went to culinary school and became a classically trained chef.
LaBelle used to work for Starbucks, managing commissary kitchens, opening new stores, and overseeing locations that served as many as 600 to 1,000 customers a day. Having worked extensively in the corporate world, he garnered a huge amount of management experience which proved exceedingly useful when he finally set his plans for One More Bite in motion.
Ever since becoming a chef, LaBelle has had his sights set on opening an eatery in Beacon. Financially, however, a self-owned and self-operated restaurant was not in the cards for him until last year.
At last, LaBelle was financially prepared to follow a path of his own, the same one he’d been dreaming of since childhood. After persevering through a multitude of pandemic setbacks, One More Bite successfully made its debut. The newborn restaurant was welcomed into the Beacon community with open arms and an influx of positive feedback.
“People have been very receptive to the Korean cuisine we’re bringing to Beacon,” he says. “Ninety percent of the feedback we’ve been getting has been overwhelmingly positive.” Since opening, some particularly devoted customers have stopped by the restaurant as many as four times in one week in an effort to try every single thing on the menu. Suffice to say, one visit to One More Bite will have you coming back for much, much more.
Like many restaurants in the area, One More Bite has partnered with other Hudson Valley businesses. The Beacon restaurant currently serves tea from the Millerton-based Harney & Sons and coffee from Chris’ Coffee, which is based in Latham. Everything is made fresh in-house, and LaBelle hopes to source more of his ingredients locally in the future.
When it comes to cooking, LaBelle’s favorite dish to make is japchae, which translates to “mixed vegetable.” When it was first invented in the 17th century, japchae was noodle-less. Nowadays, however, the savory dish is made with clear, stir-fried noodles made from sweet-potato starch, and is served with meat, mushrooms, and an assortment of vegetables.
LaBelle’s love for japchae stretches all the way back to his childhood. He grew up eating the dish at home and loves the fact that he gets to introduce his Beacon neighbors to glass noodles.
LaBelle specializes in Korean cuisine, but his eatery is multi-conceptual. Upon walking into the restaurant, customers pass a coffee bar and dessert space. A display case boasts sweets of all kinds: everything from your standard croissants and blueberry muffins to red velvet cookies, vegan brownies and, of course, matcha and strawberry mochi.
For One More Bite, the future holds great promise. LaBelle hopes to equip the place with a full bar and, eventually, open the doors for full indoor dining.
“I’m so proud to be a part of the Beacon community,” he enthuses.
With delicious East Asian fusion options for vegans, vegetarians and ‘meat guys’ alike, One More Bite makes Beacon proud, too.
One More Bite
389 Main St, Beacon