Bibimbap is the ultimate Korean rice bowl: a redolent array of vegetables mixed with soybean paste and Korea's signature chili sauce, the pungent gochujang. Often times you'll find nicely seasoned strips of beef in there and a runny egg on top.
It's a dish common throughout the Korean New Year, mostly because it's a convenient and delicious way to get rid of the excess side dishes that accumulate during the festivities. There are of course various regional styles of bibimbap. The cities of Jeonju and Jinju are most renowned for the dish and variations include hot stone bibimbap, soybean sprout, and vegetable-only.
It's a dish that's well-known throughout the Los Angeles area, especially in Koreatown. But who exactly does it best? The list, below.
Named after a city in South Korea, this old-school eatery is known for bibimbap served in stone pots. The allure of the pots is much more than just aesthetics; it keeps the rice crisp and parts of it slightly charred. Target the galbi bibimbap, mostly because of the generous portions of marinated beef, layered on top of cucumber, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, soybeans, and the works. On cooler evenings, pair it with soybean paste stew. 2716 W Olympic Blvd #101, Los Angeles, CA 90006; (213) 386-5678.
This food court gem means "Potato Rock" and it is a Korean generalist that might as well be a bibimbap specialist. You'll see soup and noodles on their menu, alongside five -- all really solid -- bibimbap varieties. Their stone pot (or dolsot) bibimbap is the star attraction. The kimchi flavor is lovely and the runny egg on top seasoned with sesame seeds ties it all together. 928 Western Ave # 129, Los Angeles, CA 90006; (213) 387-5581.
Hangari Bajirak Kalgooksoo
Sure this eatery is known for their wonderful selection of handmade noodles, but before each meal, everyone gets a mini-bibimbap appetizer. It's barley-based, with a smidgen of bean paste, radish, kimchi and sesame oil. Simplistic, sure, but it does its job well as an appetizer. Of course if you want more than that, you can order a full-on stone pot bibimbap as a meal. Do try the noodles though -- they're knife-cut and extremely chewy. 3470 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90010; (213) 388-2326.
Located on 6th Street, this eatery has two types of bibimbap: yangjegi (served cold, like a salad) or dolsot (served in a stone pot). I prefer the latter. Both come with a mix of carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, seaweed, and egg. Gochujang is mixed in and the dish comes with a lovely array of banchan. 3470 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020; (213) 388-1105.