Have you Heard of Bossam Bar? Get Ssam Actually Affordable Korean Tacos

Today Morgan is reporting on Bossam bar, a fast, affordable Korean fusion spot on 7th and Sansom.  With the recent love for Korean Tacos, Burritos, and Ssam (Korean Wraps), I am shocked this place has not been publicized at all.

Like many Philadelphians, I imagine, I’ve heard a great deal about the Korean taco trend but have not had a chance to try them. I heard the buzz when they hit Ansill (now closed) and have been meaning to try them since chef David Ansill moved over to Ladder 15. From there the trend has spread, Jamie got an early preview of Giwa’s version, but I had still never had the opportunity to cross paths with a Korean taco myself. So I was super excited to hear about Bossam Bar, a Korean/Japanese fusion restaurant that opened in the Jewelers Row location formerly occupied by Tampopo.

I was a little confused when I walked in, but the guy behind the cash register quickly explained the procedure to us. The menu is projected on the wall near the entrance. You’re meant to tell your selection to the man at the register, pay, then seat yourself. They bring your food out to you on cafeteria trays as it’s prepared. Then you bus your own tray to the racks in the back of the room. The set-up reminded me of my college’s dining hall. Besides this new, relaxed method of service, the interior is wholly unchanged from the Tampopo days.

I had worked up such an appetite thinking about the tacos all day that I needed an appetizer. I ordered the soft tofu salad (also known as hiyayako tofu) to start with. I got a pretty glass bowl with a few chunks of chilled, silken tofu topped with bonito flakes and scallions and sitting in a mild dashi broth. With a couple of splashes of soy sauce, this made a nice, refreshing yet savory starter, but cold tofu is always too bland for my palate without the presence of ginger, Chinese mustard, or both. And at $4.95 I didn’t feel like the portion matched the price.

Next came the main event. I chose one Galbi taco (above) and one Bulgogi taco (below). They also have spicy pork, chicken, and tofu varieties available. The tacos come topped with pickled red cabbage and onions and a little pile of shredded iceberg lettuce. A house-made salsa is served on the side. I was sort of expecting a crunchy, tangy topping of kimchee, so the limp onions were a minor disappointment. Also, I strongly prefer tacos on flour tortillas. I know, I know: corn tortillas are more authentically Mexican. But they’re just so messy. Besides, this is a Korean taco, it doesn’t need to be authentically Mexican. I was waiting for my friends to get their food before I dug into my tacos, so by the time I started eating the bottom of the tortilla has basically disintegrated.

These drawbacks notwithstanding, the tacos were really tasty. The Bulgogi meat was nicely marinated, but not too sweet. The pickles were a vinegary contrast and the salsa was a true star. Smooth and tangy with the slightest hint of spicy heat, I almost used the entire portion they gave me on the first taco and had to ask for more to go on the second. Speaking of my second taco, the Galbi taco was a clear winner. The chunks of glazed, grilled meat were slightly smoky and more toothsome than the Bulgogi. I could have happily eaten several more.

The tacos will only run you a reasonable $2.50 a piece and three of them would make a satisfying lunch. If you get multiples with the same filling, the prices go down (2/$4.50, 3/$6.50, or 4/$7.95). They also have Korean burritos available that come with the same toppings with the addition of rice and all wrapped up in a flour tortilla. I’m definitely trying one of these at my very next opportunity. Also on the menu is both bibimbap and sushi, udon, and they serve bossam as bite size appetizers.

My friend got the Bulgogi Bowl which consists of rice topped with the thinly sliced, sweet marinated beef and a nice helping of kimchi. He’s a guy with a real appetite and the portion was enough to sate his hunger at a mere $5.95. The rice bowls are also available in chicken, spicy pork, seafood, tofu, and unagi (Japanese style grilled eel) varieties at prices ranging from $4.95 to $7.95.

As a person who is a big fan of both Korean and Japanese cuisine, I think I have found a new favorite lunch spot. It’s truly rare to find so many delicious selections at such reasonable prices all under the same roof. I was quite disappointed when Tampopo closed its doors, but it has been replaced by a restaurant just as unique and affordable.

The + (what someone who likes this place would say)

  • Trendy Korean tacos and burritos are exciting
  • Many lunch options are extremely affordable

The – (what someone who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I do not like cafeteria style service
  • I don’t like fusion cuisine
  • The sushi options are pretty pricey

Bossam Bar, 719 Sansom St, 215 238 9373



Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.