Brian So needed a change. After leading the kitchen at Spring, a seasonally driven fine dining restaurant in Marietta, for seven years, he felt like he was stuck in the same mindset creatively and wanted to explore something else. So, he looked to his Korean heritage. This summer, he plans to open BŌM, a casual and lively Korean restaurant steps away from Spring. Located just off Marietta Square in the Church Street redevelopment, BŌM—which means “spring” in Korean—will serve the restaurant-style food he ate as a child and still seeks comfort from today.
“I spend 50-60 hours a week at Spring looking at the same stuff,” says So, who gained a variety of diverse knowledge working everywhere from Eleven Madison Park to Sobban. “I just wanted to experience something different.”
“Growing up, I ate out all the time with my family at Korean restaurants. When I lived in New York and San Francisco, on my days off, this was the type of restaurant I craved because it’s usually cheap, comforting, and very satisfying. There’s nowhere like it here unless I drive to Gwinnett or Buford,” he adds.
BŌM will be 100 percent Korean—no fusion or creative spins here. Chef Kyung Kim, who has worked with So for 12 years, will lead the kitchen, working collaboratively on the menu. Expect appetizers like dumplings and seafood pancakes, rice and noodles like bibimbap and naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodles), and single-portion soups, including spicy tofu. So describes the family-style hot pots—which boil on burners on the table—as the “heart and soul” of the restaurant. There will be seven varieties, including spicy pork neck stew with potatoes, sweet and savory braised short rib with a rice cake, kimchi stew with pork ribs and tofu, and an “army stew” inspired by what American soldiers ate in Korea (think ramen, kimchi, spam, sausage, American cheese, and baked beans). Meat and fish, such as grilled, salted, whole mackerel, come with rice or lettuce wraps (ssam). They’re meant to be eaten with banchan, complimentary accompaniments like kimchi that are served to the table at the beginning of every meal.
“I have a very narrow view of what a Korean restaurant is, and I want to pay respect to that. I’m trying to do this style of Korean restaurant proud,” he says.
As such, BŌM will not have a bar, but it will serve Korean beer, soju, makgeolli (sparkling rice wine), and bekseju (an herbal, fermented rice-based alcoholic beverage with ginseng). “When I think of the restaurants in Koreatown in L.A., there’s not usually a full bar,” So says.
The nearly 1,700-square-foot space will feature a peak-through window from the outside to the kitchen, so passersby can see soups and dumplings being made. Inside, guests will walk down a narrow hallway where brightly colored Korean ingredients will be on display—akin to a Korean market. The dining room connects to a 1,000-square-foot patio via two garage doors. It will spill into Church Street’s communal space called the Alley.