Dayton’s first fast casual Korean inspired restaurant will open its doors to the public tomorrow with a free lunch for all from 11am – 2pm at Bibibop Asian Grill on Brown Street.
Not being familiar with Korean food is not a problem, as the experience is similar to that of Chipotle or Rapid Fired Pizza, where you stroll down the line picking your ingredients and end up with a meal. While this is Dayton’s first Bibibop, there are a dozen more in Columbus and Cincinnati. The concept has been quickly embraced and has double-digit same-store sales growth and plans for almost 20 more stores in the next two years.
You start by choosing a bowl, salad or roll (a wrap that is rolled). I chose the purple rice, which I learned is really white rice steamed with black rice that when steam together the black rice naturally dyes into the white rice and makes it purple and gives it a slight nutty flavor. There is no artificially coloring or flavoring involved! And the black rice makes it healthier being filled with antioxidants, fiber, and tons of other healthy vitamins! Then I added some black beans, leaving the sauteed potatoes and sprouts for another visit.
Then you get to pick your protein from diced grilled chicken, spicy chicken, steak or tofu or a combination of these. I went for the spicy chicken and steak for a real meat lovers mea.
Next you add your vegetable toppings, selecting from chopped cucumber, lettuce, carrots dressed with sesame oil, pickled daikon, corn for a sweet crunch, cheese, chopped egg or sprouts. Have a few or do them all, which I did.
Then you can pick your sauce, a spicy sriracha, a Korean red sauce that was a little sweet, teriyaki or yum yum. I chose to go for 1/2 spicy sriracha 1/2 yum yum, which I was later told by the marketing team is the most popular.
There are also a handful of sides you order, including miso soup, edamame, fresh cut pineapple and spicy Korean Kimchi (a fermented cabbage).
Korean Bibimbap, (mixed rice) is the inspiration for this restaurant, created by Charley Shin 3 years ago in Columbus and inspired by family recipes. Westernizing the name and menu, Shin wanted to offer something healthy and adventurous. He thinks the Bibibop name is fun to say and eating there makes people feel good. With a mix of community tables and booths, the sleek white and orange decor seems young and hip. Designed to appeal to millennials, Shin feels that they are more adventurous and like to try new things. His desire to appeal to the younger generation was part of the Brown street site selection by the University. According to Dori North, who handles Bibibop’s real estate, they concept likes to cluster their eateries in a city and they are currently in negotiation for 2 more sights, with expectation to open one by fall and another in early 2018.
Visit Bibibop Asian Grill at 1200 Brown Street, open seven days a week from 11am – 9pm.