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Big New USC Village Development Adds Fast Casual Korean BBQ Concept Kobunga

Longtime meat-man Stevie Cho gets his first restaurant

Food from Kobunga
Courtesy Kobunga
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

There’s a new Korean grill concept coming for USC Village later this year, called Kobunga. The project is helmed by Stevie Cho, a longtime pop-up chef who knows a thing or two about working with meat.

Cho has for a long time been the chef behind Littlemeats, a rotating Sunday dinner series that saw Cho and the team work Texas technique in with Korean flavor profiles. More recently he’s been working on his Kobunga concept alongside co-founder (and concept creator) John Kim, and has just signed a lease to officially land his first full-time restaurant at the new brick-laden USC Village project near campus.

Kobunga bill itself as “accessible Korean BBQ” with a fast casual focus. That means the flavors of KBBQ, but on formatted plates and bowls — think kimchi cucumber pickles, straight kimchi, rice, and grilled meats like thick-cut pork belly or bulgogi. At their recent pop-ups (including a stint at Koreatown Night Market), it all ends up looking something like the above.

There’s no official timeline for opening (Kobunga only just signed a lease), so expect something by end of the year or, more likely, early next. Not that USC Village is hurting for attention at the moment — the multi-million dollar project recently arrived to much fanfare, and everyone from Trader Joe’s to the Wahlburgers franchise is getting in on the action.