Daily food intake is a requirement of my continued existence.
Okaaaay… So, despite the fact that reality seems to be upside-down and inside-out, and facts are no longer facts, and I found out that there are people in this world who chew and swallow 35 pieces of gum… every day… before noon [ link ]… and that makes me wanna puke… I still gotta eat. Like a shark has got to move or die, the escalator of food can never stop, or I will fade, wilt, and perish. For example: I need lunch.
Lately I feel like every action I take — even just getting lunch — should be in opposition to the bullshit I see around me, so I have continued in my efforts to eat at and feature the many immigrant-owned food businesses in Asheville. Eff this “Muslim Ban” and the xenophobic turds that implemented it. Immigrants are part of what makes this country and this city so fuckin’ awesome, and in fact, the more people who immigrate to Asheville from other parts of the world, the more interesting the city becomes, all across the board, but specifically for me, the food scene is made richer, more varied, and more satisfying on all levels. I love me some scrimp ‘n’ grits… but, c’mon. I gotta go get a bulgogi bibimbap every once’t in a while, ain’t I?
Just in case you didn’t know…
Bulgogi – “A Korean dish of thin beef slices marinated and grilled on a barbecue.” [ link ]
Bibimbap – “A Korean dish… served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables, chili pepper paste, soy sauce, or doenjang (a fermented soybean paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat are common additions.” [ link ]
Lucky for me, right downtown, next City/County Plaza on College Street is the Korean House, co-owned by Chef Kristina Im who was born near Seoul, Korea, and moved to the United States in 1995. Kristina is currently training her brother and co-owner Jayson Im in the kitchen, turning over his usual front of the house duties to staff. Not-as-lucky for me, their hours are kind of wonky, and are not posted on the front of the business, so it took me three tries to get in last week. I have a bad habit of trying to eat lunch between the hours of 3pm and 5pm, so I’m often SOL — and getting used to it — but posted hours are much appreciated, thank you. When I finally caught-up with Korean House, I already knew what I wanted, I only had to find it on the menu: Bulgogi bibimbap.
At Korean House, the bibimbap comes in a 425° stone bowl that is literally sizzling fucking hot, as in DO NOT TOUCH. At the bottom of this insanely hot bowl, there is rice (I chose white rice, they also offer brown rice), then some really tasty sauteed mushrooms and zucchini, grass fed hormone free beef, fresh sprouts, carrots, pickled radish, lettuce, and a sunny-side-up egg on top. The egg has a sprinkling of seeds on it that are aesthetically appealing as well as adding a tiny crunch and slight toasted flavor. The host, Lee, asked me if I would like for him to stir it for me, and I said, “Yes, please.” That seems like something I would do wrong somehow, so I left it to Lee, and I chose wisely, as he knew what he was doing.
“Tsssss sizzle sizzle pop!” said the bowl of food.
Once Lee had stirred it up, the egg yolk got all cooked and silky throughout the dish, not unlike carbonara, I thought to myself at the time. The rice, which had been pressed against the super-hot stone bowl before being so expertly mixed in, was really crispy, and sticky, and caramelized, and frickin’ awesome. I like for stuff to be hot, so I added lots of Korean hot sauce to the bowl, and bim-boom-bang, this bibimbap was the bomb! Like, seriously good, Yo. I’d eat this dish every day, for any meal.
Although, I’m still a little unclear on the hours, I heard Korean House is open for brunch on Sundays, and with that egg on top, this dish is brunchy as fuck, so count me in! The fresh veg and seared beef are appropriate at any time, on any day, in my opinion, and the portion was large enough that I took some home to re-heat the next day, when it was awesome all over again.
And it came with these tasty sides…
Like so many of the people who choose to immigrate to the USA, and the traditions they bring with them, Chef Kristina, Jayson, and The Korean House are valued additions to our city’s population, culture, and awesome food scene, and their bulgogi bibimbap stone bowl is so frickin’ good that I knew after one bite it was gonna be my…
EAT OF THE WEEK!
“Korean House restaurant located in downtown asheville. Serving korean bbq. Grill Dishes – Stonebowls”
122 College St, Asheville, NC
Phone: (828) 785-1500
Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.
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