Papa Bop, family-owned Korean restaurant, will ‘fill your stomach and your soul’


Ella Jeffries/Daily Senior Staffer

Papa Bop. The Korean restaurant opened four months ago at 1047 Chicago bring Korean food to Evanston.

Ella Jeffries, Development and Recruitment Editor

Kj Chang opened up Papa Bop in September to bring authentic Korean food to downtown Evanston. 

“I can taste our dishes in Korea too. They aren’t a fusion style,” Chang said. “How we eat in our house and how Korean people eat in Korea is how we cook.” 

So far, Chang said the most popular menu item has been “bibimbop” — spelled “bop” like Papa Bop instead of bibimbap. It’s a rice dish served with assorted vegetables and an over-easy egg on a traditional Korean hot stone with a bowl of soup.

After working in the restaurant industry for 22 years, Chang was ready to take charge. He opened the restaurant with a menu that includes hibachi entrees, ramen options and a handcrafted lemon-lime drink, which according to Papa Bop’s motto “will fill your stomach and your soul.”

Papa Bop, like other restaurants across the country, is navigating rising prices of meat and oil due to inflation. However, Chang believes he can limit the effects of inflation through menu prices. Most dishes range between $11 and $18.

When deciding where to start his business, Chang picked a location near the Chicago Avenue Trader Joe’s, a place he thought was sure to attract college students. But so far, he’s seen a clientele he estimates is 99.5% neighbors and only 0.5% students. 

Nevertheless, Chang said customers have given positive reviews, giving him hope that serving a different clientele will allow him to be just as successful.

Lena Kim, owner of crafty gift store niceLena & Friends, tried Papa Bop when it opened and loved it, she said. She added she just took her family back so they could all try it together. Not only is the food great, Kim said, but the Chang family is very friendly and cares about its customers. 

Kim said the only thing missing during her first visit was a soup option on the menu. But after she brought it up to Chang, he added two soups.

“I’m also Korean, and we are from the land of soup, so it’s really important,” Kim said. “I’m hoping he adds more now that it’s winter, but I just really wanted to see soup represented.”

Because Papa Bop is a family-owned, neighborhood restaurant, Kim said she thinks Evanston residents will be more inclined to eat there. 

In fact, some students have overlooked the distance and ventured over a mile from Northwestern to the establishment. 

Weinberg sophomore Mahdi Haseeb said he was excited another Korean option was coming to town, since there aren’t many near campus. 

Aside from the cozy atmosphere, Haseeb said the house-made drinks and simplicity of the menu set Papa Bop apart. 

“Initially, I thought everything was a bit pricey,” Haseeb said. “But the generous portion sizes, authenticity of the food and welcoming environment made it a great experience.” 

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