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 and so the mixture of hot rice and meat with cold, blanched veggies turned some people off. The Busseys experimented with fusion-style dishes that incorporated Chinese and Thai influences with “Korean DNA,” then began adding things like chicken wings and tacos. They followed their customers’ taste buds until it came full circle — customers 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,” Bussey 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 at a time when we didn’t have a lot of quick, healthy options. When BBBop first opened, they didn’t even want to have fryers, microwaves or a fridge. As time went on, customers craved dishes like wings. They became so popular that the Busseys caved and bought fryers. The menu morphed into a reflection of the Busseys’ culinary background, their culture and their customers.
“The reason we have orange chicken on the menu, the orange bop, is because we had so many customers coming saying, ‘I want orange chicken, where’s your orange chicken?’” Bussey 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 their fine dining backgrounds. The two are meticulous about making every sauce and brine for their restaurants. They even cook their pork belly sous vide style. 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 began waiting to eat until late in the evening so they could order it. When they returned to the U.S., they created their own version and it became a best seller.
BBBop Seoul Kitchen
5323 Greenville Ave.
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: noon – 9 p.m.
Did you know?
Sandra Bussey’s 70-year-old parents roll every pot sticker and egg roll by hand.