first impression | With its sunshine yellow walls and K-pop music videos playing, K-Bop STL has a fun, welcoming atmosphere. Out front, there are several tables painted the same bright hue, making it a great option for al fresco dining this spring. The Delmar Loop spot is the first brick-and-mortar location of the popular Korean food truck, which has been rolling around St. Louis since 2015. The name is a play on the music genre and “bop,” the Korean word for rice bowl, which serves as the foundation for the menu.
wash it down
Along with bottled water and soft drinks, canned Korean beverages are available. The offerings include Milkis ($2), a carbonated yogurt drink; sikhye ($2), a traditional, sweet rice punch; and sujeonggwa ($2), a cinnamon drink brewed with ginger.
» mandu: $5; These potstickers are filled with a mixture of beef, pork, vegetables and japchae (Korean glass noodles made from sweet potato starch). They’re deep fried, and the shells were sometimes a little tough. But that’s a minor complaint, especially in light of how flavorful the filling is.
» Spring Rolls: $5; A nice vegetarian option, these are deep fried and filled with a mix of cabbage and other veggies. The wrapper is thin, crisp and a little less tough than the Mandu. If you’re looking for something with meat, there also are pork Egg Rolls on the menu. They are larger and have a thicker, harder fried wrapper.
» Tteok-Bokki: $6; This popular Korean street food features rice cakes (more like thick rice noodles than the dry disc variety) and fish cakes in a spicy sauce. There’s a nice balance between heat and sweet, and the spice level is more pleasant tingle than outright burn. There’s customization available with add-ins like egg rolls, Mandu and cheese.
» Beef Bop: $12; All bops come with rice, japchae and fresh greens. The beef bowl is bulgogi style, which means it features thinly sliced beef that’s been marinated. The beef is very tender, and the marinade offers the perfect marriage of sweet and savory.
» Chicken Katsu Bop: $12; There are three options for chicken rice bowls, but you can’t go wrong with picking the fried one. The panko breading is light and crispy, and the chicken itself is moist and flavorful. It comes drizzled with spicy mayo and katsu sauce, a Japanese sauce made for fried meat.
If you’re a fan of the original food truck or Korean food in general, you won’t want to skip out on K-Bop STL. It may be fast casual, but the portions are hearty and filling. Even if you’re not familiar with what’s on the menu, it’s definitely worth a try.
6120 Delmar Blvd. | 314.296.3001 | kbopstl.com
Pictured at top: BiBimBop, rice bowl with beef bulgogi, assorted vegetables, egg and house gochujang sauce
Photo: Bill Barrett