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.
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…
“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.
ON THE RADIO: wpvmfm.org
What’s with all the politicizing? We get enough of that crap 24/7, so we have to be subjected to it when reading a food review? Really? Can you give it a rest?
If not, please do a tad of research (the internet is your friend)and see what Bill Clinton and Obama both had to say about our immigration policies back in their days as chief. Also, check to see how many illegals Obama booted. You’ll be surprised at the numbers. Stick to food.
“please do a tad of research”
Food is political whether you want it to be or not. You can’t talk about food in America seriously without talking about immigration, whether it’s farms or slaughterhouses or processing plants or restaurants.
The politics are fine. Some people like a little spice in their food reviews. But the author might consider substituting unappealing food references for the scatological imagery. I would find that funnier.
Not going to defend Stu’s review style, which is what it is, but why does the fact that Obama and Clinton had questionable immigration policies mean we should just roll over and accept Trump’s moving even further, and far more aggressively, in the same direction? Lots of people spoke out and complained about Obama’s record number of deportations. But Obama never pushed for spending billions of dollars on a border wall, removing the social safety net and government services from undocumented minor children, defunding cities that have lenient policies towards undocumented immigrants, or shutting the door (even temporarily) to refugees no matter where they come from. The claim that Obama’s immigration policies were basically equivalent to those of the Trump Administration is just factually inaccurate.
Try the Stone Bowl in South Asheville. Their stone bowl dishes are hot, and their bibimaps are cold.
StoneBowl in South AVL has a great bibimbap as well with a ridiculous variety of sides to accompany the dish if you are down in that neck of the woods:) https://www.yelp.com/biz/stonebowl-korean-restaurant-asheville
They have a $9 lunch menu served from 11:00 am – 2:30 pm(re-open for dinner @ 5) and if you go be sure to try out the one of the Korean Style Pancakes(Veggie, Seafood, Kimchi)…they are amazing!