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Small Business of the Month: Seoul Bowl

Owners James and Subin Chang.
James and Subin Chang working in their food truck.

Owners James and Subin Chang.

There seems to be a Seattle-area food truck for just about every type of food you can think of. We owe our local, delicious, convenient, international variety of street food options to creative and resourceful small business owners like James Chang, owner of Seoul Bowl.

Seoul Bowl’s menu takes Korean food staples and puts them in choose-your-own bowl form. Customers choose their protein option—bulgogi, spicy pork, chicken or fried tofu—and add toppings like kimchi and pickled radish. Their menu also includes mandoo (potstickers), bulgogi sandwiches, and bulgogi kimchi fries.

With Seoul Bowl, James is bringing his favorite flavors from Korea to Seattle. “After graduating college, I lived in Korea for about five years traveling and eating all kinds of foods,” he says. “A lot of times I was always asking myself why there wasn’t this kind of food in Seattle. When I moved back to Seattle with my wife, we decided to start a food truck in hopes to share more flavors and foods from what we had in Korea.” James and his wife, Subin, came up with their menu together, based on their favorite meats and sauces from Korea.

Having worked at a food truck in New York previously, opening a truck was a natural choice for James. “I really enjoyed the food truck culture and atmosphere. I think because the food truck can go anywhere and serve food, it makes it always a new adventure.”

While James enjoys the freedom of running his business out of his truck, any food truck operator will tell you it’s not easy. James worked with the Office of Economic Development’s Restaurant Advocate, Jennifer Tam, to navigate requirements and get his business up and running. “She has helped me basically from the start of my business until now,” he says.

James and Subin are continuing to work with Jennifer as they pursue their future vision for Seoul Bowl. “We’re growing and looking to expand into a brick and mortar [location], and Jennifer has always been extremely helpful,” he says. “In the next five years I hope that Seoul Bowl will be in many brick-and-mortars, as we want to continue to grow and share our flavors from Korea.”

Seattle foodies can look forward to future brick-and-mortar Seoul Bowl locations—for now, the truck can be found year-round at various locations and events around Seattle, Bellevue and more. “We are currently in the process of getting some permanent spots in the Seattle area, which we’ll be at for lunch,” James adds.

Food truck locations are competitive and can be difficult to obtain. James’ success in getting locations that work for his business is just one aspect of the hard work mobile food vendors put into creating a successful business. Organizations like the Washington State Food Truck Association,, and the Seattle Department of Transportation are just a few of the ways mobile food vendors hustle to obtain locations on private property and in the public right-of-way.

Subin Chang preparing a bowl in her food truck.

Subin preparing an order.

Seoul Bowl posts their locations for the week each Sunday on Instagram and Facebook, so follow them to see where they’re at next. If you don’t know what to order on your first visit, try James and ­­­Subin’s go-to order: the bulgogi bowl with all the toppings and yum yum sauce. “My wife will always ask me to bring her a bowl so that she could eat it at home or for lunch.”

Got an idea for your own food truck? You can find resources for opening a food business on our Restaurant Success page, and get in touch with us to learn more about our services for small businesses.