Battle of the Bibimbap!

During spring break I made a discovery. I tasted a dish that had been on my To-Eat list for a long time: bibimbap. Take a few seconds to absorb that – I know the name is different than a burger or salad. It’s different because it is a Korean dish! The name bibimbap actually means “mixed rice.” It is one of the most popular Korean meals, and anyone who is interested in food from different cultures, or food at all, should try it out.

My first experience with bibimbap was at Koibito Sushi & Teriyaki on Sleater Kinney, in Lacey. You may be familiar with Koibito Sushi on Harrison, but this is a different place. Koibito Sushi & Teriyaki has a large dining room and is ornamented with different decorations and lights. If you’re looking to take a loved one out on a date, this would be a great location! The rolls are creative and the portions are generous for a sushi restaurant.

As I ordered the bibimbap here, the waitress boasted at how delicious it is, and was excited to see how I would react. I noticed the waitress at the other side of the restaurant, as she carried a very large bowl, steam escaping out of the top. It had to be mine, I thought! As the large bowl was placed right in front of me,  I was mesmerized by the bowl steaming on my table, filled with rice, seasonal veggies, beef, a fried egg and topped with dried seaweed. Many other Korean restaurants will have tofu as an option if you do not eat meat! The bowl was accompanied by a squeeze bottle filled with what I thought was Sriracha. “Very spicy,” the waitress warned me about this red sauce. The sauce is actually called “Kochujang” sauce; it was not as spicy as sriracha, but I personally liked it more. For savory-addicts like me, this was the best bowl I’ve ever had.

After this mesmerizing experience, I needed to order the bibimbap again. This second time I went to Seoul Restaurant on Martin Way. This eatery had a lot more of a casual feel, and the bibimbap was a little bit different than I had expected, although still delicious. This time it came in a beautiful stone bowl so burning hot that it lightly toasts the rice at the bottom, adding a nice crispy texture to a small layer of rice. The egg on this one was sunny side up, so you stir all of the contents after the rice crisps up at the bottom, and the egg yolk cooks when it touches the sides of the bowl. A large array of side dishes to put into the bibimbap was included at Seoul, including kimchi vegetables, and some sort of black beans in a thick sauce that were my favorite. While the ceremony of the bibimbap at Seoul was more fun and intricate, the overall meal at Koibito Sushi & Teriyaki was more game-changing. Try it out! Go find another Korean restaurant in the area, and see what you think about this great dish!

By Guilia Cole