Bulgogi ragu at the new Dak & Bop in Timbergrove.

With my wife and kids out of town visiting in-laws, I decided to eat alone this Valentine's Day and visit Dak & Bop's new second location at the old La Vista 101 space in Timbergrove. Did I want double-crunchy Korean fried chicken? Maybe I could go for a big ol' plate of kimchi fries. I liked Dak & Bop. I knew Dak & Bop. A little self-care by way of Korean street food was a real nice idea.

Then I saw the menu—risotto, gnocchi, carbonara ... this wasn't what I expected. 

Okay, I'm bluffing: I knew Dak & Bop was fusing European and Korean for its second location; still, when I actually saw the menu and gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper) butter and smoked chili oil is part of a risotto plate, I couldn't help but get a little giddy. 

I ordered the decadent bulgogi ragu, in which penne is tossed with the South Italian cheese scamorza, braised beef shoulder, and bulgogi. The huge, rich serving meant I had plenty of leftovers. I also took home some of the outstanding smoked kimchi pancakes, which come three to an order, are relatively hefty yet soft all the way through, and are served with spicy gochujang honey. Too much for one person, but so good.

Other things to check out: There are flatbreads (pork belly, veggie, bulgogi, gogi lovers—obviously a play on meat lovers), a couple sandwiches, and appetizers like, yup, bruschetta, calamari, and garlic bread. You can still get that signature Korean fried chicken in orders of 10 or 20 (wings, strips) or five or 10 (legs). And the fries? Right now there's poutine and something called Seoul fries, which have braised pork butt, candied gochujang sauce, and smoked kimchi. They sound fantastic and are a fine substitute for kimchi fries.

My suggestion: Visit the new Dak & Bop with a couple friends. Try a couple of the fusion dishes, order up a 10-piece chicken, and be prepared to linger for a while. This is a whole new idea of comfort food, the kind of self-care we all need these days.

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