Bibimbop at Bowl'd
This regional treat manages to be five different dishes at once.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert?
Think your national dish is all that and a bag of seaweed chips?
Sure, if it’s ceviche—that’s Peru’s—it’s trendy. If it’s sautéed reindeer—hello, Finland—it’s poignant.
But Korea’s national dish, bibimbop, combines within each mouthful many different textures (tender, crunchy, chewy, gooey) and flavors (fresh, sweet, smoky, starchy, tangy, salty, fiery). And in its modest simplicity, this farm-fresh family favorite also manages to be many different dishes—even different courses—all at once.
Composed chiefly of sticky, steaming-hot grains whose toppings you mix into it Malt-O-Mealwise with the rough, stolid machinations of a spoon—which with, instead of chopsticks, you then eat it—it’s breakfast.
Topped with a runny fried egg, it’s breakfast 2.0.
Topped with raw vegetables, julienned toothpick-fine, it’s a salad.
Topped with sliced black mushrooms, toothsome bellflower root, steamed bean sprouts, and your choice of meats, fish, tofu, or thick golden mung-bean pancakes, it’s a hearty, dinnerworthy entrée.
And if we’re counting carbs as sugar, it’s dessert.
At roomy, friendly Bowl’d BBQ Korean Stone Grill, you can order bibimbop with white rice or a coppery blend of barley, brown rice, wild rice, sweet rice, and black rice that makes you feel nourished just by looking at it.
“Nobody’s eating white rice in Korea these days,” says Bowl’d BBQ’s manager Chi Moon. “Everyone wants to be healthy, so they’re trying out different types of whole grains.”
For an extra thrill, have yours served in a superheated stone bowl that makes the ingredients literally sing while cooking their bottom layer to a crackly crust.
“The 5,000-year-old Korean tradition of sharing and embracing is expressed in a bowl of bibimbop. With its kaleidoscope of colors, flavors, and nutritional balance, it’s thought that people can spoon up harmony” while eating it, says John Han, head of corporate marketing for Bibigo, a company that distributes traditional Korean foods to U.S. supermarkets.
“Because traditional bibimbop sources seasonal vegetables and ingredients that are readily available in Korea,” Han adds, “everyone—from ancient royalty to the everyday family—is able to enjoy a bowl of it.
Bowl’d BBQ Korean Stone Grill, 4869 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-654-2000, www.BowldBBQ.com.