There’s been a foul wind blowing through my life lately. It abates long enough for me to orient myself toward getting shit done, then comes back twice as hard just as I set sail. After weathering the most recent storm, it was time to thank the gods of uncannily perfect health with a food offering. I chose to go to bopNgrill because what’s a better way to say “Thanks, assholes!” than to go eat drippy hamburgers. I laugh in the face of cancer causing nitrates and high cholesterol ratios.

Will Song opened bopNgrill in 2011. According to the Interwebz, his concept was a cheap eatery that showcased food from both Korea and America. The name says it all – you can get variations on bi bim bop or variations on hamburgers; fries and onion rings for sides. This sounds pretty straightforward, maybe even to the point of being a bit pedestrian. However, Gentle Readers, we are in Chicago. Nothing is ever quite what it seems. Song’s idea of a hamburger features high rent ingredients like arugula, sun-dried tomato confit and, bah oui, truffles. Fries a la Song? Perfectly crisp ‘taters covered with an array of toppings should you want them.

I’ve walked by the place a handful of times on Saturday strolls around my neighborhood. In fact, I considered going in previously after a particularly long walk before breakfast. However, the press clippings from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives blazing in the front window always turned me away. I can’t help it. Guy Fieri has branded himself as such as Jersey douche that I can’t bring myself to go in to places he’s endorsed. Granted, he’s a friendly Jersey douche…I guess I’m just a snooty intellectual.

So what was my particular reward for overcoming an aversion to media endorsements? I ordered the le brasseire burger, which incorporates bleu cheese, arugula salad, bacon, caramelized onions and togarashi mayo, on a parmesan dusted pretzel bun. My dining companion ordered the loco, which featured fried egg, short- rib gravy, caramelized onions, bacon and sharp cheddar in addition to the usual hamburger set up. All burgers are cooked to medium unless otherwise requested. We’re both fine with medium as it’s, well, a happy medium between my preference to rare and his for well done. We debated for some time as to how many orders of fries to get. One order of kimchi fries and a small regular? Two orders of kimchi fries? After at least five minutes of “Dude. Seriously, I can’t eat that much. The portions are going to be huge,” it was settled – share one order of kimchi fries.

What are kimchi fries? The description will have you believe that they are fries covered with caramelized kimchi, cheese sauce, bacon, scallions and sesame seeds. The sign does not dissemble. What they are in experience?

God of Umami in human form

God of Umami at the human level

These things are off the hook. Somehow, Song has managed to restrain the overpowering flavors of each singular ingredient and fuse them into an overall umami experience. At the same time, the kimchi fries aren’t just a salty, greasy mess. They’re a weird magic, especially when you realize that the cheese sauce is our friend Velveeta. Imagine the sounds of a city coming together into one divine hum. That’s what kimchi fries taste like.

The verdict after dinner was “The burgers aren’t quite as good as Edzo’s, but we’re totally going back.” When we return, we’re hitting up the Korean side of the menu and getting more kimchi fries.

bopNgrill is located at 6604 N Sheridan Rd Chicago, IL 60626. Don’t forget to order a Mexican Coke while you’re there.

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