Bibigo Hot Stone, the hopeful "McDonalds or Starbucks of Korean food," has finally opened its first U.S. location in Westwood, with 199 more locations planned to follow. Bibigo stars bibimbap, rice bowls mixed with various grilled ingredients, usually with an egg on top. Quite unlike Chego's main attraction, a healthy focus is stressed here, even to the point where Bibigo's Facebook promises to "take the barbecue out of Korean." That sounds like a terrible idea, but at least it won't have to compete against Koreatown's hundreds of 'cue spots. So what takes the place of barbecue here?
According to Nation's Restaurant News, Bibigo sounds more like the Subway of Korean food, as guests here pick from a choice of grain (white, black, grain, or barley), protein (beef, chicken, or tofu), and sauce, and the staff mixes it with veggies. There is also bulgogi, plus a few other Korean items designed for people who don't normally eat Korean, as is already pretty explicit from the west side location. Clearly, they're counting on UCLA students to eat here, as a Facebook message encourages 'stus to "Make sure to fill up on some bibigo before you watch the Bruins destroy the Cardinals." Unfortunately for Bibigo and UCLA, the Bruins were crushed 35-0.
This chain and its concept come from CJ Foods, which counts Coldstone Creamery and Tous des Jours among their wide portfolio of restaurants that are mostly located in Asia. It sounds like Bibigo, whether or not it rivals any of KTown's best, is coming in full force, so get used to it. If you give it a shot, please let us know its strengths and weaknesses in our comments. So far, Midtown Lunch sounds impressed.
Bibigo, 1091 Broxton Ave. 310-824-0011
Korean food concept sees big potential in U.S. [Nation's Restaurant News]
Earlier: Fast Food Bibimbap Chain Launches with Its Eye on L.A. [Grub Street]