I was very fortunate to be invited along to Bibimbap recently. It was an offer I could not refuse as I was planning on visiting anyway. I have mentioned this plenty of times, but just for those people who are not aware, I lived in South Korea for a year back in 2013/2014. Other than the United Kingdom, it is the only other country I have lived in for any length of time therefore I consider it my second home. The food is also something I feel passionate about.
When I heard Bibimbap was opening up I was extremely excited by the news! On first glance at the menu I identified that the main focus was Korean bar style food. Back in Korea it was a regular occurrence for my friends and I to head out to bars after work to eat and drink. The menu at Bibimbap is a selection of the type of things that you would find in these bars. Therefore I would say that Bibimbap is an authentic experience of the Korean bar scene. Korea is becoming more Westernised as time goes on so if you visit yourself and think I’m wrong to call it authentic, trust me it is. It’s just not as traditional/different to our culture as you may expect.
When we arrived we received a very friendly greeting. The venue is tiny and it was packed out for a Monday evening. It’s a small and dark space that has been totally brightened up by the colourful umbrellas hanging from the ceiling and neon lights above the bar. Very Korean. As soon as we sat down we were given menus. In true food blogger style I had already looked at the menu online but I was delighted to see that the menu I had been given was bigger and even better. I was thrilled to see that they served Cass (Korean beer). However due to the high demand they had actually sold out. Not to worry though. Cass is simply a cheap Korean beer but it was almost the only beer I drank during my time there. I’m sure they’ll have some next time. Instead I ordered a Busan Collins whilst David ordered a bottle of Tsing dao (his favourite beer from when he visited Shanghai).
We started by ordering the kimchi jeon (pancake) and kimchi mandu (kimchi and pork dumplings). Both of these dishes were exactly as I expected them to be. Kimchi pancake would be something we would often order with Korean Rice Wine, which I didn’t see on the menu. If they ever do add it I will certainly be going back for an evening of kimchi and makkgeoli (rice wine). I’m lost for words to describe the pancake. It just is a very good savoury pancake – ultimate comfort food. It comes with a tangy soy dipping sauce. When ours arrived we were very quick to begin tearing parts with our chopsticks, giving it a quick dip in the sauce before letting the heavenly flavours melt in our mouths. Personally, I don’t think the kimchi is too over powering in kimchi pancakes so do not be put off automatically if you think don’t like the sound of kimchi. If you like seafood then you should definitely try the pa jeon (seafood pancake).
The dumplings were well stuffed and bursting with flavour. If you don’t like kimchi (how can you not) then once again do not be put off ordering these as it is all mixed in with the pork so you don’t really notice it.
We also ordered a side of radish kimchi. This is my favourite kimchi. Thick and juicy pieces of radish, marinated and smothered in gochujang (a hot chilli sauce). The radish kimchi had a lot more sauce surrounding the radish than usual. However the flavours were still spot on.
For the larger dishes we ordered jeyuk deopbap (spicy pork and rice) and cheese dakgalbi (cheesey stir fried chicken).
The spicy pork dish was something I would eat on a regular basis. It was something I would eat more on nights where we were just popping out for food on the way home. Eating out in Korea was always the cheaper option – especially as most of us lived alone. This spicy pork dish was one of my favourites. I used to go to a place called “noodle tree” and it was my favourite version of the dish. It came almost exactly like this one! The only thing I would say is Bibimbap’s version is less spicy! However that is not a criticism as I often found myself not being able to finish it back in South Korea.
We also had the cheese dakgalbi. This was delicious however it tasted completely different to the dish I had been served in South Korea. Yet it was still delicious. Tender and succulent pieces of chicken in a tangy and spicy sauce. Now this did have a kick!
When we had though we were almost finished the waiter came over and asked if we had tried the spicy lamb skewer. He challenged us to it so we accepted the challenge. I ate about two bites and was in tears (however had I tried them when I had just arrived back from Korea I would have been able to handle it). David did fantastic though and not only ate his own but finished mine too. Unlike me, he did not cry, but complained of tingly lips all evening. If you love a bit of spice and heat I would highly recommend trying these!
In terms of price, ordering two small dishes, two large dishes, a side and a couple of beers would cost roughly £35-40. Switch the beers for cocktails and it’ll cost you a wee bit more! However it would be extremely difficult not to be tempted by that incredible cocktail list (secretly hoping they do soju smoothies soon, another highlight of the Korean nightlife for me). Portion sizes were excellent so I would say the prices are fair. We were absolutely stuffed when we left.
Overall I thought the experience was fantastic. Certainly authentic. I am extremely impressed with the whole picture so far at Bibimbap. My hope now is that it continues to grow and become a success. I wish them all the luck in the world.
As always, thanks for reading.
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Have you been? Do you have any questions?