Korean food is coming to Midtown right after the start of 2018. Jason Chang, John Lee and Kevin Lee (the latter is the executive chef at Vast) are opening Gogi Go in the Edge Apartments development on NW 13th and Walker Ave. The name comes from the fast-casual concept: bulgogi, which is Korean barbecue, combined with a counter-service approach to customer care.
“We want to make Korean food accessible to as many people as possible,” Kevin Lee said. “Until Chae came along, Korean restaurants were confusing to most people.”
Whereas Chae has focused on full-service dining, Gogi Go will work much like a Korean Chipotle, with patrons moving down a selection counter. Each station provides choices: rice bowl or “burrito,” protein, vegetables, and sauce. Kevin Lee said the restaurant would focus on three very traditional Korean proteins—chicken, beef and pork—a lineup that should be very easy for Oklahomans to get behind. There is also a tofu option for vegetarians, and while tofu is another traditional Korean protein, Lee said it is usually mixed in with meat, not just served as an alternative.
John Lee, whose mother opened the first Korean restaurant in Oklahoma City, said Gogi Go is an homage to the women who kept the food and culture alive in Oklahoma City. When Korean restaurants first started appearing in Oklahoma City in the 1980s, it was the mothers who ran the kitchens, often with the grandmothers cooking at home and taking care of the children. The Gogi Go team, as well as Daniel Chae, represent a new movement in Korean cuisine: men in the kitchens.
“We want people to experience Korean food in a way that the process isn’t confusing,” John Lee said. “The older generation has passed on the dishes and techniques, but they haven’t made it more accessible to a larger audience. Korean food is huge all over the country, and it should be here, too. It’s delicious, hearty food that we believe Oklahoma City will love.”
Gogi Go will function with minimal staff, making for low overhead and affordable food. The processes have been streamlined to the point that a small team can handle all the responsibilities behind the counter. The idea is to deliver rice bowls and wraps to customers quickly for about $11-12. Refrigeration units in the restaurant will contain Korean sodas, as well as popsicles in the near future. Beer and wine will also be available for dine-in.
A typical bowl will contain short-grain, white rice, kimchi, pickles, a selection of vegetables, including radishes, broccoli, onions, etc., meat and a sauce. Kevin Lee has tweaked some of the sauces to expand our definition of Korean food, but traditional sauces like gochujang will also be available. He’s also added some personal favorites to the veggie list that he thinks make sense for Korean food and Oklahoma City.
“I love fried onions,” he said. “One of our options will be fried onion strings. It’s not traditional, but it works and it’s delicious.”
Look for Gogi Go to open the first or second week of January. Lunch and dinner service are planned, with the restaurant closed on Mondays.