Los Angeles does not suffer from a lack of diverse food offerings, so it should come as no surprise that Korean fast casual and casual sit-down restaurants are nestled in several pockets all over town. Bibigo is the spawn of a company that has manufactured and distributed Korean products for decades, and now the eatery is a place to sit down and enjoy fresh, authentic dishes. According to Bibigo, the idea of ‘bibim’ “reflects the Korean value of a collective lifestyle, where good fortune is shared, and new things are embraced.” Take this as a lofty suggestion for life in general, then apply it to a meal with friends if you venture to Bibigo.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Beverly Hills location celebrated it’s one-year anniversary, and each SoCal store offered the signature bibimbap dish for just $5 during lunch. That deal may be over, but here’s what you can expect if you take a trip to Bibigo.
The cocktail menu was the first place to start. The….were top choices were the Korea-a-Pear Cocktail with gin and soju. Sweet, yes, but not too sweet. The Seafood Pancake was fantastic–a jumble of fat, pink shrimp, squid and veggies held together with a bit of eggs and flour, no doubt, to form pan-fried appetizers. There is a very easy recipe for this dish online the restaurant’s site, so check that out if you’re hungry. We also have a recipe somewhat similar to this one, but it is of Japanese descent. If you’re familiar with Japanese okonomiyaki, you may recognize a few of the likenesses and differences. The lighter texture of this Korean Seafood Pancake, Pajeon, was a great introduction to the meal.
Thes traditional bibimbap served in a sizzling stone pot arrived steaming and spitting, preparing us for an interactive course meant to speak to our personal preference of sweet, salty, slightly sour or spicy with sauces and pastes nearby. If you’re sharing a pot with me, we’ll have to dabble in the spice with a dash of sweet or sour. I love a really flavorful mixture. And don’t forget to delicately push through the wobbling egg yolk on top. Once it slides down the sharp, craggy edges of the bean sprouts, rice, meat and vegetables. It will look quickly if it hits the heat of the walls or bowl of the stone, but the rest will remain just loose enough to provide body to whatever sauce mixture you create. Selfishly order one for yourself, or grab a few different bowls and experiment with the sauce offerings. It is an experience in itself to pass and share these dishes. And definitely go for the option of black rice. You’ll know why when you taste it.
Something should definitely be said for the Sut Bulgogi that we ate. The chargrilled beef is toss in a pineapple sauce that provides sweetness. A smattering of peppers and mushrooms surrounded the meat mound. Because everyone needs a minute handful of veggies to balance a big plate of beef. As for green vegetables, the Golden Garlic Brussels Sprouts were demolished at either end of the table. They were delivered to a table of folks greedily looking forward to fiber in with Korean flair. We poked through plates of sprouts, dodging firey hot peppers, while instead chopstick tips to green buds, mini zucchini, prunes and garlic, of course.
Consumed, but not pictured, we shared plates of Braised Short Ribs, Galbijiim, that, as Amir likes to say, fell apart as soon as we looked at it. The hearty meat fainted away from the thick bones. Whenever people dare to lick their sticky fingers amongst a crowd of professional acquaintances, you know it’s good. Most of our Buckwheat Noodles bowls were empty as well. These slippery, long guys may be difficult to eat with chopsticks, but keep it neat folks! Suck those wiggly suckers up, then grab a piece of grilled chicken or pickled radishes and cucumber. The wasabi soy sauce brings all of those flavors together well.
The sweet tooth must be satisfied at all costs. No matter what. We had four desserts dropped at our table, and these were the top two winners. Although the desserts are not truly authentic, they were delicious, and the parfait does harken to a very traditional flavor. The Korean Sweet Pancake is dotted with fresh raspberries and topped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Once the fork cracks through the sweet crust of the dough, scramble to grab a berry with each forkful. As for the parfait, the key is reaching down through the superfluous whipped cream and vanilla ice cream to the layer of omija syrup. Apparently, folks refer to omija as a “five flavor” fruit because it hits on so many different notes. These two desserts were just enough to satisfy a craving after a huge meal.
Beverly Hills is one location of course, but you can venture Westwood or Century City to get your fix. The Valley and Eastside could definitely use one of these in the neighborhood. All we can hope is that they heed the request.
225 South Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Disclaimer: We were offered an opportunity to sample several items on the menu courtesy of Bibigo and Wagstaff Worldwide. Each guests at the media dinner also received a package with Bibigo products and a gift card. All opinions expressed here are our own.