Sunday, February 7, 2010


Bibimbap is the safe haven of the uninitiated at Korean restaurants; all the components can be visually identified and anything that doesn't jive can be taken out (well, at least, pre-mix up mash stage). In Korean homes, though, bibimbap is like the equivalent of the sandwich: throw in whatever leftovers you got, squeeze on a dose of your favorite condiment and presto!

So, for me, it conjures up casual home meals, such as weekend lunches or anytime my mom was too busy (or not at home) to cook. So, when I go out to eat, my eyes skip over bibimbap on the menu without a second glance. Not the case yesterday, though, when I stopped in at Seungbukdong and was actually in the mood for bibimbap! Before my dolsot bibimbap arrived, the ceremonious delivery of the banchan.

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Japchae, garlic and sesame oil seasoned seaweed, soybeans in a sweet soy sauce, and kimchi. My favorites were the soybeans (you wouldn't think it would be remarkable that they were tender, but in my experience, there's a 50/50 chance they won't be cooked properly) and the kimchi, which was surprisingly good. I loved the bright, sour taste and the delicate, "well-ripened" texture of the cabbage. The bean sprout soup came with the dolsot bibimbap and was a bit weak on flavor.

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Bean sprouts and spicy dried squid. These were fine, take 'em or leave 'em.

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All the stuff on top of the rice: spinach, mushroom, bean sprouts, ground beef, zucchini, gosari (Korean fiddlehead ferns), shredded dried seaweed and a fried egg. Add chogochujang (a slightly sweet and sour red chili pepper sauce) and get to mixing!

Which leads me to my next point: I have a new found love for the dolsot.

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I never cared much for the sizzling stone pot of watch-your-fingers because the browned bits were always too chewy and just got stuck in my teeth. I realize now that those pots must not have been hot enough because that gorgeous rice crust had a crisp bite and made an instant believer out of me.

My dolsot bibimbap was a pretty big portion and I couldn't finish it; maybe some of you bibimbappers could put it away, no problem. According to Yelp, their signature dish seems to be the galbijjim (steamed beef short ribs), which I will try when I'm not flying solo.

Seungbukdong is a small restaurant with only a handful of tables and has a homey feeling with friendly service and food prepared with the level of care that is a step above similarly priced places (my dolsot bibimbap was about $10; I have to get better about writing this kind of stuff down). This place is my new go-to remedy for my Korean cravings because let's face it, one cannot subsist on food court stalls alone.

3303 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 738-8977


Pandalicious said...

yum!! love bibimbap! and seaweed... so good! good write up!

weezermonkey said...

Browned bits = the best.

bagnatic said...

i love the crunchy rice parts! ok, call me a retard, but for the longest time, i didn't know you were suppose to mix the contents of the bibimbap before consuming. i know, i know....

Gastronomer said...

I vote we hit up this place for the next dinner meet up ;-)

SinoSoul said...

Chics dig this stuff. it's the crunchy carb thing me thinks. the Mrs goes ga ga, and I always feel like we're getting ripped off by being charged extra for carcinogen bits. bygones.

The best, and most well known Ktown bibimbap house is Jeon Ju on Olympic. huge selection of bibimbap, all avail in dolsot. It's such a friggin hole, makes SBD look luxurious.

Marie said...

Pandalicious: Thanks! I had to head straight home to veg out afterward. I was so full!

Weezermonkey: Yes, this rule of thumb applies to so many things: rice, cheese, the top of creme brulee!

Bagnatic: I'm surprised a server didn't point it out to you... I think I may have witnessed a waitress mix bibimbap up for a non-Korean once.

Gastronomer: You are onto something there! We would have to go during sloow, non-normal-eating hours probably, though. Which is fine by me... I really hate waiting for seating!

SinoSoul: I've been to Jeon Ju! It was good and I rather liked its shabby quality. :P They did have good banchan, I should go back and have the bibimbap again.

Kung Food Panda said...

I've been here, good place. Pretty solid Korean food fare with good panchan. They also have this fish dish that's served in a metal pot.

Marie said...

Kung Food Panda: I am looking forward to trying a fish dish next time. I love to eat Korean style fish, will never cook it in my studio!

The Scootabaker said...

Met your boyfriend at the Capital sports bar in hollywood. My boyfriend and I were there enjoying the Vikings game just across the table from him. We were sharing stories of food and food blogs and your blog came up in the convo! Thought I'd check it out and say a little hello to a fellow LA food blogger!


Marie said...

Heather: Hello! Thanks for stopping by, great to meet another bloggin' lady. :) I am a notoriously bad baker, so looking forward to getting help/inspiration from you!