In Bellevue, Oma Bap is a new Korean restaurant in the midst of a grand opening celebration through tomorrow. “Inspired” is a word they tout, but I’m not quite feeling the inspiration.
Part of the problem is in the honesty that the food is “Korean inspired.” My bibimbap (and the other food I sampled) wasn’t terrible, but it was far from inspiring, and not as Korean as I wanted.
Oma Bap reminds me of Subway or Chipotle, where you go to the counter and order while observing the steam table assembly process. The website features interesting videos, including one about bibimbap, which lists the vegetables in the dish: shiitake mushrooms, purple cabbage, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, and bean sprouts. My bowl was missing the sprouts (my least favorite item, actually), but had a LOT of lettuce; I felt like I was eating a salad. (I would also hope for spinach in my bibimbap.)
Two other issues: The egg on top was not runny, as it should be, and there wasn’t any hot sauce. A worker explained that they already expanded sauce choices, but they made a milder version because the original was too hot. I’d suggest they need to go in the other direction.
The menu also states that Oma Bap is “people inspired”—explaining that “we believe that Korean food is poised to become America’s next favorite cuisine because of its exciting and intensely flavorful dishes that include an assortment of fresh vegetables and lean meats.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see a boom of Korean food. I just don’t want it to be this style. Chinese food in the Seattle area is so-so, especially when compared to what’s available just north of the border in Richmond and Vancouver. And the Subway sandwich-ing of America has meant the loss of mom-and-pop shops that serve unique, interesting food. Let’s not settle for dumbed down Korean food at the expense of losing out on the potential of enjoying this truly flavorful and intriguing cuisine.