My Life My Race

My Life My Race

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bibimbap...Love at second taste






I think I was only 15 or 16 years old when I had my first ever Bibimbap...not in Korea but in Manila. Korea is my favorite country. I love their culture and their people even their weather...I love their food too and that makes me a genuine fanatic of Korea. Korean dishes are healthy and good for the skin.
Almost all Korean chefs use different kinds of vegetables in creating their dishes...thus making the food overly healthy and nutritious.
Bibimbap is an example - It's one of the most widely popular Korean food in the world. That's why when I saw it from a menu of a Korean restaurant in Manila, I didn't think twice and I immediately ordered it. When my order came, although the rice was sizzling hot, I excitedly dipped my spoon and started mixing it the way I saw it on TV. After mixing it, I scooped a huge amount, put it on my mouth
and ate it. But..blah! It tasted like raw vegetables mixed with chili paste and raw egg. There was no meat too. I was expecting to see a fried egg on top of my rice but the egg was fresh from the shell and it remained like that. I didn't like the taste. Everything tasted raw. After that, I had trauma eating Bibimbap again. I wondered "how come it looked good on the menu picture but didn't taste as good..."
Anyway, last 2007 when I had my first trip to Seoul, Bibimbap was the first food served on my table (besides the ala carte breakfast served at Holiday Inn). I was so hungry that time after a morning trip to Daejanggeum Theme Park and I didn't want to be impolite by ordering another food when our tour guide happily suggested to try the restaurant's specialy which is...Bibimbap Anyway, I decided to trust our guide and my sense of smell and sight. The restaurant's ambiance looked so good...very traditional looking. And there were many tourists coming out of its exit door with smile on their faces - meaning they were satisfied.
The restaurant is located in Insadong and for me everything in Insadong is authentic.
The Bibimbap served to me had a nice smell and was so colorful. The vegetables were neatly arranged with the fried egg and beef resting on top making the dish so deliciously looking that I didn't have a hard time forgetting my trauma...
Our order came with several yummy side dishes too. (They are happy to refill if you need more. I especially love their spinach)
My Bibimbap was served in a stone pot...keeping the food warm. Very impressive presentation for just a mixed rice - but it's not an ordinary mixed rice so I forgive it for being pretty.
I think that's what made the difference. The reason why my first Bibimbap tasted "raw" was because it was served in an ordinary rice bowl. Although the rice was hot, the vegetables and egg remained raw.
Anyway, like what I said, my trauma was all gone. So when my cousins and I were in Jeju, we tried this restaurant where tourists usually go. This time, I felt like an expert when it comes to Bibimbap. I expertly mixed it with the right amount of gochujang and expertly ate it too with no hesitations. I became a lover of this "Korean mixed meal" that whenever I am in Korea, I make it a point to drop by Ssamzigil and treat myself to an authentic Korean Bibimbap. One of these days, I am planning to make my first homemade Bibimbap...

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