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Quick-Serve Korean Food Arriving In Lincoln Park

Cupbop+Ramen hopes to open by the middle of the month on Clark Street

Ashok Selvam
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

A popular style of Korean takeout should arrive later this month in Chicago, as Cupbop+Ramen plans to open in Lincoln Park. This is the first U.S. restaurant for ownership which runs a couple spots in the Gangnam District in South Korea. They're opening in mid-March inside the former Thai Burrito space at 2439 N. Clark St.

Cupbop is aimed at younger eaters, ones who are on the move. Customers will eat from a cup filled with rice and vegetables topped with Korean beef, chicken or pork. The food is then topped with a sauce made from sesame oil and spices. Owner Jay Shin said customers can tell servers how spicy they want their food on a scale of one to 10.

"We serve it faster than a normal, regular restaurant and because this is Lincoln Park, there's lots of younger people and they are busy; they can carry out very easily," Shin said.

Quick service and fast service restaurants are popular in Korea, where one survey reports 7 percent cook at home. Shin described Cupbop as an easy way to eat Korean barbecue favorites like bulgolgi and bibimbop on the run. It has grown in popularity on busy streets in populous Korean cities like Seoul, and though the trend is driven by younger eaters, Shin hopes older diners will also appreciate the convenience.

Cupbop will also serve Japanese ramen from different bowls, and Shin is hoping their traditional style of soups compare favorably to Chicago's other ramen spots, like Jinya Ramen Bar just north of the their location on Broadway. The concept could be easily duplicated and Shin leaves the door open for expansion if Cupbop enjoys success. Other spots, including a Utah restaurant, use a similar concept.

Maybe Cupbop+Ramen will bring stability to the space. It housed another Korean concept, Galbi City, which closed in 2013, only to be replaced by Thai Burrito which closed last year. The most recent occupant, LaSalle Cafe Luna, didn't make through New Year's Day.