I live at 5th and K, so I hit up Mandu one or two nights a week for take-out on my way home from the gym. It’s a healthy alternative to take-out at Taylor or Busboys and Poets. I usually grab the bulgogi to go, which is a simple dish of sliced rib-eye and vegetables. However, I always see other patrons chowing down on something else that looks a lot better than what I’m eating.
So I decided to dine in last night. I went ahead and ordered that “something else.” Upon asking resident bartender Christian (real cool dude) what exactly that dish is called and how I should order it, I was informed that it is called bibim bap and that I should order it served in the hot stone bowl (dolsot bibim bap) with pork. So, of course, I did.
What is this dish, you ask? It’s a rice bowl with assorted vegetables (zucchini, mushrooms and spinach) and either beef/chicken/pork with a fried egg on top and spicy bean paste on the side. It’s pretty much everything I would want in a single dish.
Upon being served, Christian demonstrated how you should eat it. First, you pour the spicy paste into the bowl and mix everything together. Second, he explained that you push everything up against the side of the bowl. The bowl is so hot that it helps fry the rice to give it a more crispy texture on the outside, while keeping it moist on the inside. He told me to wait about 10 minutes before eating, to let it cook. Ten minutes? Not me. I can’t look at food for more than 15 seconds without eating. I’ll let it cook as I eat. I got after it right away.
I can eat a lot, but this was a pretty tough challenge – even having just worked out. It’s spicy, and the food is blazing hot (which I love), because the bowl stays at a high temperature throughout the entire meal. I don’t breath in between bites (I think that’s a genetic flaw) and actually worked up a sweat eating it. But this is a prototype man-dinner, so that is bound to happen. It must push at least 1,500 calories, but, aside from the white rice, there really isn’t anything unhealthy in this dish. And, for $11, it beats fast food take-out alternatives. I recommend it to anyone who stops by.
And how do you finish off a great meal after a long workout? A shot of Jame-O, of course. Thanks, Christian.