i’m glad we accepted the invitation to dinner at bibimbap along charlotte street (thank you jeremy!), because it is now somewhere we see ourselves returning to when craving a big bowl of piping hot rice on a cold night.
we visited on a thursday night and it was surprisingly (and impressively) busy for a weeknight! despite the healthy crowd, service remained good and efficient which is always a huge plus point. the space bibimbap occupies is big and spacious, but still has a warm and cosy atmosphere with cute and colourful decorations in the form of polaroids stuck on the walls:
besides the main dining area, they have 2 other seating areas spread across 2 floors in the back, which seem ideal for private parties or large groups looking for a quiet corner to themselves.
didn’t manage to snap a pic of the menu, but you can find it on their website here. though quite simple, the menu is wide enough to include an array of korean favourites and of course as the restaurant’s name suggests, many variations of bibimbap! we started with a seafood pancake, and a serving of chilli squid.
the pancake was a nice start to the meal that left us in anticipation of good things to come. we liked how the pancake was of just the right thickness – any thinner and it would probably have been too crispy, and any thicker and it would probably have been too dense! it was tasty and not too oily, and the serving size was decent for its price. however, we felt it could have done with a little more seafood in it; a lot of the time we felt like we were just having a plain pancake with some veg and the odd bit of small prawns.
the chilli squid was a hot favourite for us. the seasoning was delicious and the squid was deep-fried to perfection, without being too oily. the batter was clearly fried in fresh oil, and was wonderfully crispy without being dry and crumbly. the squid itself was juicy and naturally sweet, and size-wise the serving was more than enough for two. it was so tasty on its own that we didn’t touch the dipping sauce at all! would definitely recommend this as a side.
i (rach) thoroughly enjoyed the beef bibimbap which i got! the beef was very well-seasoned and tender, the other ingredients were fresh, and both were very generously provided! also loved the slightly charred bits of rice at the bottom (though i did feel that there could have been more charring) that were the result of serving the bibimbap in a stone bowl, as i feel it always should be!!!
after mixing everything together:topped with a healthy dose of sauce, it made for an extremely delicious and satisfying bowl of bibimbap, definitely one of the better ones i’ve had in london! i loved how the ingredients were added so generously that there was more than enough to be eaten with the rice. nothing is worse than having to eat plain rice because there just aren’t enough condiments to go around.
we also ordered the mushroom bibimbap and it was delicious:
mixed mushroom (shitake, oyster, white & black) bibimbap with fried egg – £7.95 + £1
nic had this, and as with the beef one rach had, the bibimbap was served in a stone bowl which provided the slightly charred taste that gives bibimbap its supposed authenticity. the portion of mushrooms on top was extremely generous and hearty. after all, there can never be too much-room for mush-room in a dish. the mushrooms were extremely fresh and consisted of a good variety. there were shitakes and also what i (nic) reckon were white and cremini mushrooms. this gave not just a nice variation in taste but texture as well. i also loved the doneness of the carrots and other veggies served in the bibimbap. their crunch made the meal feel far more healthful (yes, healthful and not healthy: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/checkup/2009/01/healthy_vs_healthful.html) than it probably was. however one tiny regret that we (rach in particular) had was that the charring was not intense enough. what we should have done was perhaps left the rice to ‘cook’ a little while before greedily tucking in!
this was supposed to be tofu soup, but turned out to be more like a stew. it tasted really good at first, like something that you would crave when the weather outside is wet and cold (as is London most of the year). however, rather disappointingly, after a few sips, the oiliness (yes, that entire top layer is oil) crept in and it became a bit overwhelming. it would make a nice taster dish, however, if you were to take a trip down to the restaurant with a large group. A couple of spoonfuls is enough; an entire bowl for one person is probably a little of an overkill (in the context of a meal but for the heart as well).
the kimchi soup, on the other hand, was perfect! it was a wonderful rendition of a classic korean favourite:
kimchi soup with pork – £6.95
light but tasty, it was not overly sour, which was good as the taste of the kimchi and associated ingredients came out far more prominently. this was my (nic’s) favourite dish that night. and just look at how, again, the serving of ingredients is so generous. it literally filled up the entire surface of the bowl. also, contrary to what other restaurants serve, this bowl of Kimchi soup was divine in that it wasn’t oily at all. i could have 10 bowls of this and still feel fit enough to run a marathon!
all in all, we left bibimbap as extremely satisfied customers! we thought the bibimbaps especially, were some of the best we’ve tried in london (both in terms of taste and serving size) especially given their reasonable price! the restaurant is perfect for a casual night out with good food and friends, and is an affordable option along charlotte street for some yummy asian food. we will certainly be returning for more!
Bibimbap (Charlotte Street)
10 Charlotte Street
London W1T 2LT