As with all things Baroo, the fermentation-forward strip mall restaurant with national acclaim, it’s best to expect the unexpected. With that in mind comes some sad news, as it seems chef Kwang Uh has stepped away from the two-man restaurant he co-founded, and is back in Korea for an indeterminate amount of time.
It was a strange sight to not see Uh working the stoves during a lunch at Baroo last week, with co-owner Matthew Kim still around and letting folks know that Uh was doing some traveling. Well as it turns out, Uh will be gone much longer than Kim let on, sending in word via email that he has “stepped aside” from Baroo for the time being, and will be in his homeland for a “pretty long time.”
It’s unclear at this time when Uh may step back into Baroo, though it would not be for months by the sounds of it. This also wouldn’t be the first time that Uh (and, at the time, Kim as well) took some time off — the restaurant was closed for months early last summer as the duo took time to recuperate and see some sights while gaining a fair bit of inspiration.
At least for now, the highly awarded restaurant will soldier on, with Kim running things and at least one new set of hands back in the kitchen. If the restaurant does indeed decide to shutter permanently for some reason (which seems unlikely at the moment), you at least won’t be able to say you were never warned. After all, Uh and Kim have more than once said Baroo was initially little more than a bubbly, fermenting experiment, and they it could close at basically any time.
Update: In speaking to LA Weekly, Uh says he hopes to return sometime in the middle of 2017, though he does not have a set date. In the meantime, he plans to spend at least part of his time at a temple in southern Korea.