back to basics at dak & bop

Chef's departure prompts a reboot at popular Houston Korean fried chicken restaurant

Chef's departure sparks reboot at Houston Korean fried chicken spot

Dak & Bop fried chicken
Dak & Bop is putting the focus back on its fried chicken.

One of Houston’s most popular destinations for Korean fried chicken is getting back to basics. Effectively immediately, Dak & Bop’s location on 18th Street in Lazybrook/Timbergrove will be more like its original location in the Museum District that closed last year, owner Jason Cho tells CultureMap.

The change comes with the departure of chef Jordan Economy, who Cho says left to pursue other opportunities (Economy didn’t respond to CultureMap’s request for comment). Sous chef Matt Wommack plans to leave at the end of October, Cho adds.

“When I made 18th street, I brought in these chefs so they could use their talents and experience to elevate Dak & Bop from its original concept. I think they did, but there’s a couple obstacles that we ran into aside from COVID,” Cho says.

When it opened in January 2020, the new location featured an expanded menu that put a Korean spin on Italian dishes such as chicken parmesan and American comfort food like the Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Cho says he allowed the chefs to express their creativity without his interference, but those ambitious offerings haven't found the audience that either he or his chef teamed hoped for.

“Food writers and critics wrote highly about what we were doing on 18th. Unfortunately, you aren’t our base customers,” he says.

Meanwhile, the restaurant’s signature fried chicken remains popular. It will form the basis of a revamp designed to broaden the restaurant's appeal. 

Cho and current pastry chef Zed Benak will rework other aspects of the existing menu, too. The most popular dishes from Economy’s menu, such as the garlic bread and Brussels sprouts, will remain, but they’ll be joined by old favorites from the original, Museum District location such as bulgogi mac and cheese and bao buns.

In addition, Dak & Bop will move from serving separate lunch and dinner menus to an all-day menu. Cho also plans to offer smaller, more affordable portions to lure single diners and duos.

"At the end of the day, chefs want to be chefs," Cho says. "They want to evolve as chefs. Keep those creative juices going. I guess Dak & Bop was holding them back from evolving as chefs."