Korean food company CJ has announced plans to open a restaurant in Soho this autumn that will specialise in Korea's national dish, bibimbap.
Bibigo Bar and Dining will officially open on Great Marlborough Street on 1 September where the menu, created by head chef and former MasterChef Korea judge Leo Kang, will include bibimbap alongside grills and other Korean delicacies.
The 86-cover London restaurant, which is currently open under trial, marks a change of direction for CJ, which has so far specialised in running quick service restaurants and selling branded food products in retail.
"We saw great potential in the London market for Korean food because we recognised that London people are open to new food and culture, said Bibigo brand manager Haejin Choi.
"But because people are not very familiar with Korean cuisine, we thought that with only quick service bibimbap we couldn't fully introduce ourselves and Korean food properly, so we opened a dining restaurant as our first [venture in the UK]."
Bibigo London is expected to be the first of many restaurants planned for CJ in the UK under the new brand. Choi said sites for expansion were already being looked at and that the company expected to open more restaurants by the end of this year and into next.
"We aim to become the best-known and also preferred Korean restaurant brand in the UK within a short amount of time," added Choi.
"We also want to expand our brand with quick service bibimbap in the near future."
Bibimbap literally means 'mixed meal' or 'mixed rice' and combines rice, vegetables and a chilli paste called gojuchang. Beef, raw fish or tofu can be added and often it is topped with a fried egg.
CJ is known as South Korea's largest food companies and has had a presence in the US since 1978. It's move to the UK follows the arrival of Kimchee in Holborn last year, the restaurant launched by the group behind Wasabi.