BiBiBop Asian Grill Opens at Easton, Plans East Broad Location Next
Korean-based fast casual restaurant BiBiBop Asian Grill has enjoyed a relatively quick rise to success in the Columbus area. They’ve opened four locations in the past 15 months, in Upper Arlington, Polaris, Grandview, and, most recently, Easton Town Center. Ellie Robinson and her family, owners and operators of the restaurant, are dedicated to bringing affordable health-conscious Asian food to their customers without sacrificing quality.
30 years back, BiBiBop’s current Research and Development Manager Chung Choe opened Japanese Oriental, a restaurant on OSU’s campus. Their bibimbap, a traditional Korean mixed rice dish, was hugely popular. A few decades later, both BiBiBop’s name and food are based on Japanese Oriental’s former signature dish. In January 2013, Robinson, Choe, and the rest of the BiBiBop team ventured to D.C. for concept inspiration. The popularity of create-your-own-dish restaurants cemented their decision to partner a similar concept with their Korean culinary background. After spending six months in a test kitchen dueling out food options, the menu was gradually fleshed out. Choe cooked, and Robinson subsequently taste-tested and recorded recipes. The first BiBiBop opened on West Fifth Avenue near Grandview, in August of the same year.
“We wanted to create really fresh, healthy foods with great ingredients, and do our best to make sure everything is prepped daily,” said Robinson.
BiBiBop presents themselves as a healthier option to other quick-eat places like Chipotle and Piada, offering a smattering of healthy (and mostly veggie-based) toppings perched atop plain or spicy grilled chicken, marinated steak, or teriyaki-glazed organic tofu.
You can choose between a rice bowl, salad, or soft tortilla wrap filled with bean sprouts, sauteed potatoes, or black beans. The purple rice bowl option has been one of the most popular menu items so far. The color is due to black wild rice dying the grains purple, not food coloring (which tends to be a common misconception). Robinson describes their in-house spicy kimchi as an “introductory kimchi,” made without shrimp sauce, and with American cabbage instead of traditional bok choy. The mild half-monterey half-white cheddar cheese might strike some as a strange topping option, but works surprisingly well with the fresher sides of carrot, cucumber, corn, daikon, lettuce, and cooked egg. Sauces include a choice of traditional sweet and spicy Korean red, spicy sriracha, basic teriyaki, and rich, creamy yum-yum. Salted edamame and miso soup are available as sides.
CEO Charley Shin holds the reins of both BiBiBop and Columbus-based restaurant Charley’s Grilled Subs, which has expanded internationally since it’s 1986 opening. Could BiBiBop be headed down the same avenue? Robinson said that the Columbus market has been great thus far, and expansion outside of Columbus will possibly happen in the future. At the moment though, they’re not poised to move outside of city limits.
The newest location, at 214 Easton Town Center above the AMC Theater ticket box, occupies a former Cup O’ Joe/MoJoe lounge. The clean, contemporary interior seats 65 at wall booths and several large community tables. A new location is coming to 6977 East Broad Street, and will share space with a Charley’s Grilled Subs. The restaurant is slated for a tentative 2015 opening, possibly in the spring.
BiBiBop Asian Grill is open seven days a week at Easton Town Center, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon – 6 p.m. on Sunday. The menu ranges from $6 – $8, with kid’s bowls available for about $4.
To read more about the business behind BiBoBop, CLICK HERE to read more at The Metropreneur.
For more information, visit www.bibibop.com.