I've always been a big fan of Korean food - when I lived in Wimbledon, we were very close to New Malden which is a mecca for Korean food shops and restaurants, so it was something of a staple for us. I love kimchi, kimbap (a kind of Korean sushi), pajeon (seafood pancake), the list goes on...
So when I was told that the restaurant Bibimbap (the name of another dish I love!) was opening a new branch on Charlotte Street (near Tottenham Court Road & Oxford Circus) and asked whether I'd like to come and try it, it wasn't exactly a hard decision.
They have a nice little description of what bibimbap is (the main feature of the restaurant, although the menu does include other main dishes as well as sides etc.) which is handy - if you're not familiar with the cuisine, you'll get an idea of what to expect. To explain briefly, it's a rice dish that comes in an extremely hot sizzling stone bowl, and you mix it all up with some hot sauce and it keeps cooking while you eat.
I recommended the bulgogi bibimbap to E, knowing that he would love all that beef and the flavourful sauce it's marinated in, and like the good husband he is he trusted me (at least when it comes to food).
I chose the seafood bibimbap because I can never resist seafood of any kind. I don't have to worry about cholesterol yet, do I?
We also had a kimchi pancake to share - these pancakes are so good, I really need to learn how to make it at home!
That last shot is of my favourite bit about bibimbap - if you leave some rice alone to cook on the surface of the bowl, it gets all golden and crispy and delicious. Love it.
I would ordinarily add a raw egg to this - it cooks as you mix it up in the bowl - but I wasn't quite hungry enough that day for it. I would definitely recommend it though (they have an option to add an egg for an extra pound) - if you're scared of getting it raw, you can get it fried like E did (although he would have wanted it raw, he just didn't realise it would cook in the heat!). The vegetables in the dish are pickled and flavoured, so the whole thing is well seasoned and kind of addictive.
The restaurant itself is very casual, relaxed and nothing fancy. It might not be an ideal setting for a romantic date or a special occasion, but for a quick, healthy and delicious bite to eat in the area it's great. Their prices are extremely reasonable (most of the bibimbap dishes are under 7/8 pounds) and it's a little different to your typical go-to casual dining, so if you're in the area (they also have a branch in Soho) you should definitely give it a go.
Also, did anyone watch Winter Sonata back in the day? They play some smooth Korean pop music/songs in this place, which always reminds me of Winter Sonata. Just saying.
Disclaimer: I was invited for a complimentary meal and to give an honest review by Bibimbap. All opinions are my own - I would never mislead you or be dishonest about food! It's too serious a matter.