Bibimbap was first mentioned as a dish apparently in a 19th-century cookbook, the restaurant Bibimbap tells us in their list of facts about the dish which gave their restaurant its name. The Korean dish has proved a huge hit in London, and in a relatively short space of time, the restaurant has already expanded out of Soho and a little further North to Charlotte Street.
Variety is the spice of life — Photo courtesy of avlxyz
There are all sorts of variations of the popular dish bibimbap. At this restaurant, you can have spicy pork, kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage), bibimbap, soft tofu, boiled chicken or raw seafood. In fact, in this restaurant there are ten varieties of bibimbap, so there is definitely something for everyone. The dish is traditionally served in stone bowls, which pander to the kind of rough but beautiful aesthetic which does well in London.
As well as the traditional bibimbap, the restaurant also does dumplings, pan-fried glass noodles, seafood pancakes and vegetable dumplings. The colors in the signature dish, though, are amazing: bright pink pickled cabbage, raw grated orange carrots, snipped glowing green spring onions and the warm yellow of a cracked egg on top, which slowly cooks on top of the sizzling ingredients and infuses the rest of the ingredients with the flavors of the sauce, as they soak through the rice and bean sprouts below.
The restaurant mini chain is one of the newest Korean food spots in London, and joins a huge phalanx of other East Asian restaurants from Vietnamese eateries predominantly around Hackney and the east of the capital, Japanese and Chinese in Soho and Korean from the center across to the west of the city.
But it has already made its mark on the capital and its cultural life. The restaurant's website offers recipes for lots of popular Korean dishes from soft tofu stew to boiled chicken and noodles, Korean pizza with seafood and green onions and many, many more delectable items. The website also brings its fans news of Korean bakeries, where to buy the stone bowls in which the bibimbap is served and other goings on across the capital and back in the homeland, too.
For those watching their waistlines, the restaurant also makes sure it offers salad versions of bibimbap, as if they weren't healthy enough already. For those who like the Paleo diet, then the raw beef options might be tempting. The vegetables, as with much of East Asian cooking, are all beautifully julienned and give you that crunch, as the tempting soy, ginger and kimchi dressings drip off and transport you to a happy path to curing that January hangover and those winter blues.