Food in Bangkok: The Bibimbab

Recently a new Korean restaurant opened near the mouth of Sukhumvit Soi 24 immediately across from the Emporium. It is called The Bibimbab and its menu focuses on the classic Korean one-pot meal which features 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.

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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.

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The Bibimbab is an attractive place to passers-by. The restaurant is airy and bright. The logo is colorful and modern. It is the type of place that is 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?

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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 it provides table service. The menu focuses on bibimbab, fried rice, and soups. They do not offer any of the “grill it yourself” dishes that are popular at many Korean restaurants.

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The restaurant’s branding and social media marketing is very up-to-date. They clearly want you to connect with your favorite bibimbab restaurant via your smart phone, tablet, computer, etc.

How To Eat Bibimbab

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 eating etiquette tips. Above is one an example of one of those helpful cartoons.

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Your meal begins with complimentary banchan. These are the side dishes (often erroneously referred to as kimchi, I learned – which 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. While the staff was busy, they were helpful and friendly.

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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, coming in at about 500 baht or under US$17.

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Our first dish was the 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 is time to eat it, there’s a nice crunchiness to it, a textural contrast to the rest of the dish.

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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. Flavors 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.

 

0 thoughts on “Food in Bangkok: The Bibimbab

  1. I am unfamiliar with korean food but lately thanks to Joanne Choi’s blog that you’ve intoduced me to, I’ve been wanting to get to know more. This post is great. I learned more things now.

  2. Bibimbab is one of my favorite dishes! We have a place here that also focuses mostly on this type of dish, but their decor is a tad bit more odd (They’re called the “Owl of Minerva”. Strange name eh?). Nicely priced too! I wish we had a place like there here.

  3. Dolsot Bibimbab is for sure one of the safer choices when it comes to Korean food. It’s way better than the regular Bibimbab in a bowl because, like you said, the rice gets crunchy and the texture just makes everything better. I usually get Korean food because of the banchan. I think that it doesn’t really matter if the food is only passable when it comes to Korean standards… as long as you enjoyed it yourself. I tend to like Korean BBQ the best. Ooh, one thing that you should try is KimChi Pancake… that is… if you like Kim Chi of course

  4. I know the Philippines love their fish sauce. I wonder if they gave you some because you are in Thailand?Good to see you got the small dried fish (I think that is locally made). However I think maybe the price of Bok Choy for Kim Chee is probably higher because it is a more northern growing plant.@murisopsis – That jellylike white stuff is pretty tasteless but is added for texture. You got me on the name of the stuff so I cheated and wikipedia name is Nokdumuk from mung bean starch.

  5. There’s a little hole-in-the-wall Korean place in my city; I used to eat there fairly often when I worked close to it. No idea about authenticity, either, but I liked the food enough that I’ve wished I knew what some of the side dish items were called so I could learn to make them or ask for them specifically.

  6. Korean, one of my favourite cuisine….and yes they are quite healthy in someways..more veggie, then meat protein, but to the local Hong Kongers…they prefer the grilled meat dishes on the stove more……

  7. definitely looks very attractive from the outside. i often visit a korean restaurant here in jakarta, as there are many of them here and i do enjoy korean cuisine, though not to the extend of the spicy ones.

  8. Looks good.Interesting with the broccoli… Never came across that here.Too bad some bibbimbob I’ve had comes in a stainless steel bowl without the crunchy part… Fail!!!

  9. Many thanks to everyone for their comments. Sorry for taking a week to respond!@yang1815 – Seems to me that bibimbab served in anything other than a hot stone bowl is a pale imitation of the real thing… although to be fair, when it is served on an airplane they don’t use a hot stone bowl, either!@rudyhou – Interesting… I would have taken you for a spicy food eater, Rudy.@agmhkg – That’s interesting… I would guess that like a lot of cuisines, the restaurant versions tend to be more meat-centric than what you would find if you were just eating in a local’s home.@epiginoskete – That’s exactly the point I find myself in. “I like this… but I don’t know how to make sure I get the same thing if I go to another restaurant!”@Inciteful – Oh, sure you could… and at some restaurants it seems like you get a dozen or more of them!@vsan79 – Yeah, it is visually appealing, isn’t it?@fauquet – Hi Michael, I hadn’t made that observation so went back to look at the pictures. Yes, it was mostly a crowd of parents and their still-at-home children, although we saw a few multi-generational families come in while we were eating.@PPhilip – They didn’t bring the fish sauce and chilies over initially; Tawn requested them.@xOne_twentyX – Are there any Korean restaurants near you? You should try one out.@Devilzgaysianboi – Kimchi pancake sounds tasty! With or without maple syrup? @beowulf222 – I’m under the impression that it is related to some Korean chain… but maybe I’m wrong.@paperblanks – What an odd name…@Fatcat723 – That’s sure true!@jennfaceee – I especially like when one of those hole-in-the-wall places actually pans out and is decent!@JacquieCooks – @kunhuo42 – It is certainly a cuisine about which I’d like to know more. (Oh, and thanks Jacquie for the rec!)@diditdreaming – Glad you liked it. If you need any suggestions before your visit, please let me know.@awoolham – So glad you liked it. Yes, Joanne’s blog is a great source for recipe ideas, isn’t it?@CurryPuffy – I will take you up on that, Gary. No more of these fancy Japanese inspired restaurants, let’s dig into W’s culture a little!@nov_way – So far it is only a few months old; I’ll be curious to see how it does and whether they expand to other locations.

  10. I have a lot of fond memories of this dish. I remember as a kid it was a special treat to go to this Korean restaurant since Korean cuisine wasn’t as popular in Toronto as it is today and my dad ordered bibimbap. It’s just such a simple yet wonderfully delicious dish!

  11. @christao408 –  me? spicy food eater? for a while, in earlier stage of life, i did consumed plenty of spicy food. nowadays, my palate begs for a more forgiving flavor profile. i do think spiciness in food brings out the full flavor of the dish, and as the flavor dances around in one’s mouth, one can’t help but to beg for more. unfortunately, such flavor profile what makes me seem like taking a shower in public. rain of sweats easily pour out from the pores of my skull and they drip endlessly. i prefer to look that way in the privacy of my own home.

  12. @christao408 –  gosh, NO. but i have been know to ‘glow’ from time to time. guess it’s tough to keep yourself dry at all times in public when you never know how the food in restaurants gonna affect your sweat glands.

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