Friday, June 19, 2009

Bibinba, Marunouchi

We all have to make sacrifices. At the grave risk of minimizing those of others, one of my recent sacrifices has been to eat lunch at a bunch of mediocre-looking places under the rail tracks in Marunouchi just so I could say I've been to all of them. Bibinba is one of those places, or at least I thought it was. It's small, it's just a counter, the seats are cramped together, the prevailing color is a weak sort of yellow, and it's hot from the...well, the plates.

All they do here is bibinba, the Korean thing that involves a bowl of rice with a variety of condiments and a raw egg on top (as opposed to the Korean thing with the hot noodles and the condiments on top, or the Korean thing with the cold noodles and the condiments on top, or the grilled meat with those condiments, or the condiments-only platter). One mixes it up and eats. They do liven things up by going 'dol sot', or ishi yaki, meaning the food's served in a frighteningly hot stone bowl that makes you (me) pray like the dickens when ever a server puts one down near you. How they do that without burning themselves multiple times per day is beyond me.

I think there's a bit of art to eating bibinba, and I can summarize it as follows: WAIT. When you receive the bowl, just sit there and look at it while it steams ominously and radiates heat at you. Don't stir prematurely. After a couple minutes, the rice on the bottom will start to crisp and burn, and this is what you want because it breaks up the otherwise quite soft and monotonous texture. Add a LOT of kochujan (thick spicy bean paste, I believe, but basically spicy and sweet) and stir and start eating.

So I dunno if I've just got the technique down the way I like it or what, but I really enjoyed it. Kimchi bibinba, super-sized, Y600, happy. You should try it.

Y'know, Preacher, I think he really IS!

1 comment:

  1. sounds nice. i've never been tempted to make a special trip for bibinba but they make a really nice one on asiana airlines!

    i guess ishiyaki, like yakiniku, is actually korean...