When Sandra and Greg Bussey opened their first Korean restaurant, customers weren’t receptive to traditional Korean food. Now, the traditional bi bim bop, the “For Realz Bop” as they call it, is one of their best-sellers.
Dallas wasn’t accustomed to Korean food 11 years ago, so the mixture of hot rice and meat with cold, blanched veggies turned some people away. The Busseys experimented with fusion-style dishes that incorporated Chinese and Thai influences with “Korean DNA,” then began adding items like chicken wings and tacos.
They followed their customers’ taste buds until it came full circle — diners wanted something more traditional. Now the menu is an eclectic mix of traditional Korean flavors, fusion dishes and unique creations inspired by customer requests.
“Our goal with BBBop has always been to introduce Korean to the masses,” Sandra says. “We never wanted to be that true, traditional Korean place. When we get Koreans in, they say, ‘This isn’t real Korean food.’ We blatantly say, ‘You’re absolutely right.’”
BBBop was never supposed to be about tradition. It was created to give Dallas an introduction to Korean when it didn’t have a lot of quick, healthy options. When BBBop first opened, the owners didn’t even want fryers, microwaves or a fridge. As time went on, customers craved dishes like wings. They became so popular that the couple caved and bought fryers. The menu morphed into a reflection of the Busseys’ culinary background, their culture and their customers.
DID YOU KNOW? Sandra’s 70-year-old parents roll every pot sticker and egg roll by hand.
“The reason we have orange chicken on the menu, the orange bop, is because we had so many customers coming in saying, ‘I want orange chicken. Where’s your orange chicken?’” Sandra says. “We didn’t have fryers, so we made an orange flavored bowl.”
While the Busseys’ menu is a creative, collaborative effort with their customers, the techniques are a pure reflection of the couple’s fine-dining background. The two are meticulous about making every sauce and brine for their restaurant. They even cook their pork belly sous vide. But they make sure to keep prices down so BBBop remains an affordable, healthy option for families and young professionals.
A fan favorite, the fried chicken, was inspired by a family trip to Seoul. The Kyochon fried chicken was so addictive, family members waited to eat until late in the evening so they could order it. When they returned to the United States, they created their own version, and it became a best-seller.
BBBop Seoul Kitchen
Hours: Monday – Saturday:
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: noon to 9 p.m.
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.