Pick of the week: Bibibop Asian Grill

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

After returning from a weeklong food and wine excursion in Napa Valley this week, "dining out" translated more accurately into "takeout" as we needed a few blissful nights at home. Lately, when I feel I've been overindulging and don't want to whip up something light at home, I've been swinging by build-your-own-bowl concept Bibibop Asian Grill.

Less than a year since Bibibop opened its first bright white storefront in Grandview, it's already grown into a local chain. An Upper Arlington locale opened this spring, and owners just announced plans to open locations near Polaris later this summer and at Easton in the fall.

Bibibop has obviously garnered a following. There's almost always a line (albeit a fast-moving one) when I stop in. The friendly, fast service makes it an attractive option when you're on the go. And the secret vegetarian in me can't knock the crunchy raw veggies and crispy tofu options.

Here's how it works: you can fill a bowl (or salad or flour tortilla) with a range of rice (opt for purple rice that's fragrant and a little nutty), beans, bean sprouts, cooked egg and vegetables like carrot, lettuce and daikon.

I wasn't sold at first on the concept based loosely on the popular Korean dish bibimbap-a rice dish topped with vegetables, sauce, meat and a raw or fried egg. I'm skeptical about eateries modeled after Chipotle's choose-your-own-adventure style-if I don't order correctly, will I mess up my dinner?

The short answer at Bibibop is, quite possibly. But there's an easy way to guarantee success: Sauce it right. The trick is opting for two of the four sauces to top off a bowl. Since I tend to lean toward sweet and tangy, I opt for a mix of yum yum and teriyaki, but there's also spicy Sriracha and Korean red sauce.