Friday, 8 February 2013

Bibimbap: DIY dinner

Big on flavour, but order big.

In several ways it's pretty tough to critique Bibimbap. For a start, I have never had a bi bim bap with which to compare my meal. I was also only actually in the restaurant for about 20 minutes. But the real problem is that, as far as I can tell, I did the cooking.

You see, the idea behind the Korean dish of bi bim bap is that you chuck a load of rice, veg and marinated meat into a granite bowl that's hotter than the sun, crack an egg over it and then take it to the table, where it cooks before your eyes. You add your sauce, you stir it in, you let it cook. Aside from marinating the meat, what are the chefs in the kitchen doing?! And given that a large proportion of the menu is veggie, SERIOUSLY what are they doing?

Actually, they're are making the wonderful crisp kimchi pancake we started with, along with some slightly sweet veggie dumplings (sadly overcooked - I guess the chefs got excited by actually cooking something). They were also frying the egg before it got to me, which I have to say ruined the effect of cooking in the bowl. It should be cracked in raw, and I assume they have changed this to suit British tastes. It seems we're still not over Edwina Currie's 1980s salmonella scandal. Disappointment overcome, I thoroughly enjoyed my first bi bim bap and indeed the process of it cooking more and more as I ate – even if it meant my first mouthful was cold and my last burnt my gums to cinders. The meat was flavoursome, even more so once I'd drowned it in a tamarind sauce, the veg fresh and crunchy and the whole effect moreish. In fact, it was so delicious I could have eaten two. It was devoured with a complete lack of grace and timing, much like the abrupt if still-smiley service. We were seated, fed and hustled out all within about 25 minutes - barely time to finish my strange, slightly sweet, slightly flat Hite beer. If I had a Sharpy, I'd have added an S to the start of its name.

Don't expect character, or any kind of real dining experience, but if you're hungry and in a hurry, Bi Bim Bap isn't as silly a choice as it is a name for a restaurant. Just make sure you order more than you think you should, and don't touch the bowl, because my finger is still blistered.

Bibimbap on Urbanspoon


  1. All of the vegetables have been prepared differently, some are sauteed with korean seasoning, some are pickled, some are brined...

    It's not tamarind sauce it's gochu jang.

    Bibimbap is not a silly choice of name - it's the name of the signature dish -IGNORANT

    1. Thanks for your comment, especially pointing out the kind of sauce.

      As for Bibimbap not being a silly name, I was well aware that they named it after their signature dish. I shall write to Bella Italia and tell them to change their name to "Pasta" straight away.

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