korean behind japanese

I don’t think NYC got the memo about global warming, because it’s been a cold, snowy winter. I’m over it, but as long as this weather keeps up, you’ll find me writing about Chinese and Japanese noodle soups and hot Korean dishes like bibimbop. As luck would have it, new Korean places seem to be opening at least every month. I’ve written about a few such as favorite Koofoo by F.I.T. and the stylish Boka on St. Mark’s. I haven’t yet written about the take-out place in the space that used to be Korean Temple Cuisine (also on St. Mark’s nearby First Ave.), but that’s another fave for something quick and yummy. Bimbim-bar is pretty easy to miss. It’s literally hidden behind Ramen Setagaya on First Avenue. You have to go inside Setagaya and keep walking past the bathroom to find it. There is a small sign out front, but you hardly notice it. I’m worried about Bimbim-bar’s success, simply because this space has flipped a few times. It was some kind of Japanese tapas place, and then it was a sake bar. The menu at Bimbim-bar is not surprisingly comprised only of bimbimbop, the classic Korean rice dish. There are several options (seefood, bulgogi, tofu, etc.), they have lunch- and dinner-sized portions depending on the time of day, and then you have one last choice to make — do you want it in a regular bowl or in one of those stone bowls. When I was there, at least a few people around me opted for the regular bowl. Bad choice. You might as well not even dine here if you don’t get the stone bowl. One of the best things about bibimbop is the way the rice gets all crispy on the bottom from the sizzling hot bowl. I opted for the tofu, and it sure looked great.

They bring you a raw egg and a little dish of the special hot sauce. You add them to your bimbimbop and stir the whole thing up. If you’re like me and my (cute Korean) girlfriend, you ask for a little more of the hot sauce. Then enjoy. This is bimbimbop done just right, and I would have already gone back with friends Mika and Jason for another try, except that Setagaya was closed for renovations on Sunday night. I know, I know, “closed for renovations” in NYC usually means a restaurant is going out of business, but Setagaya is always busy, so I can’t imagine that happening. Fingers crossed…

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