While eating with our friend Frankie a while ago, the Korean dish “Bibimbap” came up in the conversation, and although it is as much a signature of Korean dishes as fried rice is of Chinese dishes, I had never had it.
This weekend, our friend Wayne is in town from Australia, so we decided we should take him to eat some not just delicious food, but some that he might not get too much of back home. We went to Muguboka Restaurant in the Richmond District – it’s one of our favorite places – the people there are always friendly, the service is fast, and the food is delicious.
We ordered our regular barbecue items: kalbi (marinated beef short ribs), daeje bulgogi (spicy marinated pork), and dak galbi (barbecue chicken), and we also got an order of Dolsot Bibimbap on our waitress’s suggestion (almost every other table in the restaurant had an order of this dish!). We joked that the rest of our party was coming later. We had so much food!
The difference between Dolsot Bibimbap and regular Bibimbap is that that “dolsot” means “stone pot”, and the Bibimbap is served in one of these super hot stone bowls – it’s so hot that everything that touches it sizzles, so the inside is coated with a bit of sesame seed oil, and the rice that touches the sides of the bowls becomes golden brown and crispy – almost crunchy. A great texture addition to this dish.
It looked beautiful when it came to the table, and everything was sizzling. I don’t actually like fried (sunny-side up) eggs, but that’s how it’s served on Bibimbap, so I was all for it. I did wonder how I was supposed to eat this dish though. It was presented so nicely – beef, julienned carrots, daikon (I think), bean sprouts, cucumber, the fried egg, and seaweed on top. I thought I was probably supposed to mix it up, but I thought I’d just try a bit of it all first without mixing the whole thing up in the bowl.
It was pretty good. But it seemed like it might be missing something. Then our waitress came by our table and showed us the gochujang – chili pepper paste – and said, “this is the sauce that you mix everything up with!”. Awesome. With the verification from our waitress, I happily swirled the magical chili sauce over the Bibimbap.
I mixed it all up, and it looked even more wonderful:
And it was. All the flavors mixed together were delicious, and with the sauce, it was perfect. Meaty, chewy, crispy, salty, sweet, fresh, spicy. The only problem is that now we have ANOTHER dish to order when we go out for Korean food. Order Bibimbap next time you go to Korean food. You won’t be disappointed.