Those familiar with Korean cuisine know too well that a craving for bulgogi can strike anytime. Those who aren't are in for a treat, as well as a place to sate their hunger.
Starting Sunday, downtown dwellers, VCU students and passers-by can enjoy the Korean style of grilled meat at the new take-out restaurant JKOGI, specializing in build-a-bowl options and kimbap (also called gimbap), the Korean spin on sushi. The deal gets sweeter: The small storefront at 325 N. Second St. will offer delivery and stay open as late as midnight from Sunday to Thursday, and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
"I used to be a VCU student a couple years ago, and just being around the VCU students, I know there's a need and a demand for Korean food," says co-owner Sara Chang, who is opening the restaurant with her boyfriend, Jay Ko. "Because a lot of students are from Northern Virginia or Southern Virginia, they are very familiar with Korean food and the Korean community."
If you're looking for a Korean-barbecue-style bowl, start with steamed white rice, kimchi fried rice or salad; then choose a protein like bulgogi beef, spicy pork, spicy chicken or fried tofu; then add seasonal, rotating vegetables — which currently include bean sprouts, house-pickled kimchi, spinach and mushrooms; and top it all off with a variety of house-made sauces for a meal that'll set you back anywhere from $7 to $9.
Photo by Jay Ko
Pork belly ssam kimbap
If it's kimbap you're after, you'll find roughly 10 variations like katsu chicken, katsu pork and vegetarian rolls. These could run anywhere from $6 to $8, and should pair well with what Chang calls their chef's menu: interchanging Korean specials that change every few weeks to every month, and include seafood pancakes, tteokbokki (Korean spicy red rice cakes) and soup.
"Everything will be made by us," she adds.
JKOGI is located at 325 N. Second St. and opens Sunday, March 1, at 11 a.m. Hours of operation: Monday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight; Friday 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to midnight.