Chris reviews a new Korean restaurant in town that offers something different from the usual grill-it-yourself dishes.
A new Korean restaurant opened recently near the mouth of Sukhumvit Soi 24, immediately across from the Emporium. It’s called The Bibimbab, and its menu focuses on the classic Korean one-pot meal, featuring a ridiculously hot stone bowl filled with rice, vegetables, meat and chili paste, which you then mix together before eating. Tawn and I visited for dinner two weeks ago.
There are those cuisines with which I am extremely familiar and there are other cuisines about which I don't know nearly as much as I'd like to. Korean is one of the latter. I always enjoy eating Korean food, but I often feel a bit lost, uncertain of what I'm doing, how I should order and whether the food I'm eating is very good or just passable by Korean standards. Bear that in mind as I talk about the restaurant, please.
The Bibimbab is an attractive place to passers-by. The restaurant is airy and bright, the logo colourful and modern. It’s the type of place designed to appeal to people like me: those who like Korean food but don't know much about it. That fact alone should probably make me nervous, right?
We visited on a weeknight a few weeks after they opened. The tables were full and new customers were arriving and filling seats just as quickly as they were vacated. The interior looks a bit like a fast-food restaurant although table service is provided. The menu focuses on bibimbab, fried rice and soups. They do not offer any of the grill-it-yourself dishes popular at many Korean restaurants.
The restaurant's branding and social media marketing is very up-to-date. They clearly want you to connect with your favourite bibimbab restaurant via your smart phone, tablet, computer, etc.
Their website actually offers useful information for the novice Korean food eater, including helpful cartoons illustrating how to eat different dishes as well as general Korean food dining etiquette tips. Above is an example of one of those helpful cartoons.
Your meal begins with complimentary banchan. These are the side dishes often erroneously referred to as kimchi, which, I learned, refers only to the fermented vegetables that accompany rice in Korean meals. Just by writing this entry, my knowledge about Korean food has expanded! The restaurant refills these throughout your meal. And though the staff was busy, they were helpful and friendly.
An overview of our meal. We ordered two dishes and shared them. Along with the side of rice and broth that came with one dish, we had a very hearty meal for two people that came in at about 500 baht, or under 17 US dollars.
Our first dish was jeyook bibimbab, rice and vegetables with spicy stir-fried pork. This was tasty. One of the nice things about bibimbab is the crispy crust of rice that forms at the bottom of the bowl. When it’s ready to eat, there's a nice crunchiness to it for a textural contrast to the rest of the dish.
We also ordered dakbokkeumtang, spicy chicken stew with vegetables. While this wasn't the spiciest Korean soup I've had (I remember a date years ago who took me to a Korean restaurant in Los Angeles, serving me a spicy tofu soup that nearly dissolved my tongue), it was spicy enough. Flavours were good and I couldn't help but think that this would be perfect food for chilly weather — if only we had some chilly weather in Bangkok!
Overall, I was satisfied with The Bibimbab and imagine we'll go back from time to time. The prices are reasonable for dinner, the portions generous and the food is tasty. The question about authenticity is one I can't answer, but at some level you have to ask whether authenticity is more important than simply enjoying the food.
To know more of Chris’ thoughts on gardening, cooking, food, transportation and life, please go to http://christao408.xanga.com/.
23/04/2012 - 06:11