Bibimbap, a dish of rice mixed at the table with vegetables, chile paste and perhaps a fried egg, is reputed to be the Korean staple most suited to the Western palate, the dish that may someday be as popular among Californians as the pizza or the teriyaki stick. Yet some of the worst Asian meals I have ever eaten have come from Koreatown bibimbap specialists, including the mall restaurant whose 20-item bibimbap tasted like leftovers scraped from a fast-food salad bar, and a popular bibimbap chain whose gooey specialty proved uniquely inedible. The kitchen-sink aspect of the dish tends to play into the worst tendencies of a particular type of cook. But in the right restaurant, bibimbap can be fairly spectacular, the flavors of the vegetables heightened and melded by the heat of the chile paste, the different intensities of crunch becoming almost contrapuntal under the teeth. I especially like the variation called dol sot bibimbap, served in an ultraheated stone pot that creates a crisp, slightly scorched crust where the mixture hits the stone and infuses the rice with a subtly pervasive smokiness. The bibimbap at Jeon Ju, a restaurant from the southern area of Korea where the dish originated, is perfect. And don?t miss Jeon Ju?s spicy cod stew, which may be the best in Koreatown.
It was a rough day for K-town yesterday -- Both LaOn Dining, which introduced modern Korean tapas to L.A. to much critical praise, and it's next door sister restaurant Korean BBQ specialist Don Dae Ga... More »
Photo by Anne Fishbein When our Auntie Tesmelina would harass waiters to wrap even the tiniest scraps of leftovers into a doggy bag, we kids would roll our eyes. But when those morsels joined leftover bread in her delicious Italian... More »
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