Bop: Korean-inspired bar from Brent Celek and partners

bop_burger_0126_1200
The bop burger includes Korean BBQ marinade, white cheddar, butter lettuce, tomato, cucumber kimchi, and Korean bacon.

Almost a decade ago when Eagles tight end Brent Celek was a rookie, his nightspot of choice was the Redstone Grill in Marlton. He became friends with the chef, Hee "Chino" Chang.

Three years ago, Celek and Chang opened Prime Stache, a bar-restaurant on Chestnut Street in Old City. The two also ran a sausage/hot dog stand at Keenan's, the popular bar in North Wildwood, N.J., and still operate a Prime Stache food truck.

All the while, Chang said he longed to cook the food he grew up with. 

Then the restaurant space at 220 S. Broad St., outside the Bellevue's garage, became available as Bliss closed.

Celek, Chang, and Scott Keenan of Keenan's took it over, and bop - that's Korean for rice - soft-opened this weekend.

The changeover from Bliss to bop was as dramatic as it was quick. Workers ripped out the bar, which was perpendicular to the fling-out windows, and removed the banquette seating along the back wall. The new, white marble bar is in the middle of the room, flanked by two TVs, facing the street. White subway tile rides up the wall behind the bar. The balcony has been carpeted and is low-lit; it's meant to be more of a getaway.

Chang has scattered a few traditional Korean dishes on his menu (bibimbop, bulgogi, his mom's kimchi and other fermented vegetables), but you'd really call it fusion.

Korean restaurants don't sell composed salads. Bop offers four of them, and one combines daikon radish, julienned carrot, Korean bacon, and a ranch dressing ($12).

Chang's burger ($12), served on brioche, is one of the juiciest I've tried: He marinates the Angus, short rib, and brisket in a Korean bbq marinade and tops the patty with white cheddar, butter lettuce, tomato, cucumber kimchi, and Korean bacon.

They've brought in David Song - who used to have the Korean-American food truck SeoulFull Philly - to manage. Song initially worked at Prime Stache, as he sought to learn the restaurant business. Then the partners learned that he has a finance background.

Celek said they were aiming for a vibe midway between the casual Misconduct Tavern and dressed-up Estia, both nearby.  

Full bar. Craft beers are in bottles - nothing on draft.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, though they may vary in the early going.