Newly opened Bibibop Asian Grill will be giving away mini Bibibop bowls and pens to participants on the Small Business Saturday Crawl in Waldo.

Bibibop 

By Jill Draper

Bibibop is taking part in the Small Business Saturday Crawl for the first time. One of Waldo’s newest businesses, it shares a parking lot in the back with Chipotle at 505 W. 75th St. It also shares a similar concept. Customers order at the counter, starting with a base of white rice, purple rice, glass noodles or salad (you can mix any two), and add a variety of hot and cold toppings as they move along the line. The final choice is protein—thin slivers of steak or cubes of chicken, spicy chicken or organic tofu. Again, you can mix.

The restaurant chain was founded by Charley Shin, who worked at his mother’s restaurant in Korea before immigrating to the United States. Shin graduated from Ohio State University and opened Charleys Philly Steaks, which now has hundreds of locations at shopping malls and university campuses. His newest concept, inspired by the Korean dish bibimbap, is a healthy alternative to typical fast food, he says.

According to store manager Lizbeth Arrioja-Herrera, the menu at the Waldo location is 98% gluten-free. She describes a typical popular combination as purple rice mixed with japchae (noodles made with sweet potato starch), steak, potatoes, black beans, kale, bean sprouts, carrots, corn, egg and grated cheese. Most dishes are $8 to $9. Miso soup is complementary and kimchi is available as a side.

Sauces are part of the fun, and customers can try as many as they like. Flavors include spicy sriracha, yum yum, teriyaki, gochujang (made with Korean red chili paste), sesame ginger and cucumber wasabi.

The Waldo Bibibop opened at the end of October. Hours are 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. Arrioja-Herrera says two additional stores are planned for the area. One opens in front of Oak Park Mall in mid-December, and another in Corbin Park at Metcalf and 135th Street at the end of January.

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