Korean Restaurant Bibim Opens in Silver Spring
The new concept replaces Sligo Café
The Bibim interior
Bibim owner Jung-Ah Park said the inspiration for her new restaurant came after she struggled to find quality Korean cuisine in the Silver Spring area.
“Every time I wanted Korean, I had to travel,” Park said Monday, while taking a break from preparing food at the restaurant on Sligo Avenue. “It’s a missing niche in the area.”
Park purchased Sligo Café in August from its former owner, David Galinsky. For about two months, Park and General Manager Katie Golden attempted to make the American concept work, but by the end of October the two decided to go in a different direction.
Park said the area is already saturated with American concepts including Jackie’s Restaurant, which will be closing at the end of March, and 8407 Kitchen Bar. So she saw the Korean concept as a way to bring new flavors to Silver Spring and serve a type of cuisine she loves—she’s Korean and many of Bibim’s recipes have been tweaked by her mother. Park served as bar manager at Sligo Café before purchasing the restaurant and also worked as a bartender for eight years, including a stint at Jackie’s.
Over the next four months, Park and Golden cleaned the entire restaurant, gave it a fresh paint job and installed rice paper screens to give it a new look. On Tuesday, the restaurant will officially open to the public, although a soft opening took place last week.
The restaurant’s menu includes bibimbap—bowls of vegetables served over white rice with the option of adding beef, chicken or seafood—as well as Korean barbecue and Korean fried chicken. In typical Korean tradition, each menu item will be served with four sides, such as kimchi and in-season vegetables.
Park said the menu is also geared to vegetarians and gluten-free eaters, whom she has found make up a significant portion of the diners in the area.
“We want to make the restaurant approachable to people who can’t eat out as much and introduce new flavors to the community,” Park said.
She added that the restaurant plans to offer tableside Korean BBQ, in which customers cook meat on small grills at their tables, on the restaurant’s expansive patio when the weather warms in the spring.
The restaurant will start this week by offering dinner service, but plans are in place to expand to lunch service in the future.
Photo above: Jung-Ah Park, via Kickstarter