Bi Bim Bap is a very traditional Korean dish that starts with rice on the bottom and is topped with various vegetables, small amount of beef (should be a similar quantity to the veg) and a fried egg that are individually cooked or seasoned to bring out their best flavors. The dish is served at room temperature with a small amount of Seasoned GoChuJang (Korean Hot Sauce). Traditionally this sauce was shared at our dinner table with our children as well as our elderly. The BiBimBap GoChuJang should be slightly sweet, touch sour and not overly spicy so that you can taste the rich flavor of the Korean chilli pepper. There should be more toppings than there is rice so that most of the rice is covered and not too large in quanitity.
BiBimBap does not come with side dishes (BanChan). It's all in the Stone Bowl. BanChan does not accomany all Korean dishes. Black Bean noodles, Cold Buckwheat Noodles, Kim Bap, Fried Chicken....... All these have just one simple side dish.
We are not 100% traditional here but I don't want to add to the stereotype of Korean food being crazy spicy or that you come to a Korean restaurant for the free BanChan. It's nice to have 10 different BanChan everytime I go to eat Korean and I love going for spicy wings at AllStars but my main thing is to keep my food the way Koreans eat it in Korea.
The non-traditional comes in where we give you a choice of White or Brown rice and also a selection of sauces that range from Spicy to Not Spicy At All. We are still trying to develop a hot sauce that does not kill your tastebuds so that you can still enjoy the individual ingredients in the dish. I know there are many out there that love heat and can handle more than most Koreans can but I believe it is important to be accurate as possible to the traditional way BiBimBap was served decades ago. We use the best Stone Bowl that we could find from Korea so that your Bi Bim Bap is served sizzling at your table and keep the food warm right until the end of the meal. The Stone Bowls will toast the rice on the bottom to give the rice a crunchy nutty flavor.
Check out the menu.
Our menu is going to be dynamic to take advantage of seasonal vegetables as well as customer requests and opinions. BTW, I'm not a chef, just a food lover that loves Bi Bim Bap and has done a lot of research on how to make Bi Bim Bap.
Now a bit about me.
I grew up in South Korea and immigrated to Canada when I was young.
I have a unique perspective of knowing what true Korean cooking is as well as experience of the vast cuisine
that Toronto has to offer.
The appetizers are just a way of presenting my perspective on how I see food in a Korean/Canadian way.
I remember in my youth when Winter came my Grandmother would roast some sweet potatoes for me.
We would sit by the heater and she would put a piece of Kim Chi on the sweet potato.
Sounds strange but it tastes so amazing. It is one of my best food memories.
It was on our menu and will be back soon when Kim Chi season rolls around again.
Janet is my wife. She does most of the recipe development. She enjoys finding recipes for KimChi and is responsible for fine tuning all the BiBimBap ingredients. If you have already been to Bi Bim Bap you might have had her 'White Kim Chi' that we have been serving for the last month. (KimChi made without chilli peppers.) The white color signifies purity and is very popular at Korean weddings. There is no heat to the KimChi so you can actually taste all the other components that make KimChi taste so good. She also made some 'Water Kim Chi' a KimChi that we sip with a spoon that we served in December. She has some Radish KimChi fermenting right now that will be ready sometime in March. She made it the traditional way so it is taking longer that usual so I hope it turns out tasty (if not it will end up in our family stew for a few months to follow) She made some Baby Nappa KimChi, Mini Radish KimChi and Dandelion KimChi. Might be ready sometime in Feb. My fav Napa KimChi is Pyoung Yang style (part of my family lived there before the Korean War) very light in heat but high in taste. The flesh stays white but when you bite into it the Napa juices explode in your mouth. I better stop here becaue we are getting off topic here. I just wanted to say she is a great wife and a great cook.
Another thing is that I can't tolerate MSG, preservatives or foods that are not fresh. Gives me chest pains.
I will not allow MSG in my Kitchen cause I eat here. While I'm at it no shell fish in my Kim Chi. Agave syrup, maple syrup, honey, brown sugar and fruits will replace white sugar where possible. No processed salt, only sea salt allowed. If a dish is vegetarian I will try to make it vegan. I will also use Gluten free products when available. Why? If I can do it and still keep the food traditional and tasty why not?
I will do my best to post what I am going to try in the future as well as what I have tried in the past to keep you updated on the menu changes.
Look around the site.
I will be adding stuff here and there just as an FYI. Korean ingredients you might want to know about and all the foods relate to your health according to Korean Philosophy.
I'm not an expert so don't take it so serious. I'm just posting what I heard and read.
After a year...(December 2011)
I've been working like crazy for the last year and a lot has happened. Being a food lover and putting much of what we like into the menu has attracted other food lovers to the restaurant. Some great conversation, some valuable advice, many mistakes and lots of learning. I don't think the learning ever stops. All the great customers that has helped me taste test my experimental dishes and the suggestions that have made the dishes better. Thank you.
Me and Janet are also talking about KimChi lessons. We make KimChi on a regular bases so why not teach a few people? Janet is really shy though so might take her a bit more time to work up to this. Should we also sell our KimChi dressing and Sauces to take home? Hmmm....
Bad things? I guess here and there. When the weather is bad and business is slow. Or when the restaurant is full and customers can't get a seat (believe me when I say I hate this as much as you guys do) or when someone comes in asking for 'SPICY SOUP' (even if you say it loud and slowly we still don't have 'S-P-I-C-Y S-O-U-P') Sorry, had to get that out of my system. Korean restaurants in Toronto tend to carry ALL Korean/Japanese dishes on their menu so I can see why they are expecting to find KamJaTang on our menu. BUT we also don't have spring rolls, chinese tea, beef fried rice, wontons, moo goo guy pan or table cooking. Wow, that was good therapy!! Ha!! But mostly good thanks to all of you guys.
Wines. Love learning about wines. Wines don't have to be expensive to be good. Finding great wines for great prices is what I like about wines. Woodbridge CabSauv, Beringer California CabSauv, Cavit Pinot and J. Lohr are all great finds. I don't think a bottle of wine needs to be over $50 to be good and the best things are the amazing $25 bottles of wine. I know it is the expensive bottles that have the better profit margins but I know what I look for when I go to other restaurants so I am putting them in mine.
Hey, just started working on a new appetizer dish. Unripe Mango, Unripe Papaya, Sweet Apples and Red Peppers in our second crunchy salad. This time with a non-spicy creamy dressing. Working on a few more minor details but should be on our menu by Feb (2012) Also discussing Korean panckes, ManDu and maybe a seaweedless rice and beef roll for the kids. I have to push a few items off the menu to put in the new ones though.
Thank you for all your support. We really do appreciate everything that all of you guys do for us.
How do you make that Cinnamon Ginger Drink?
This is called Soo Jung Ga. Typically, this dish has a dried Persimmon and other dried fruits in it but Persimmons are a sweetening agent and does not have a major role as a digestive aid.
The Pine Nut however is a great story. The Korean Herbalists put the Pine Nut in the drink because it is a floating nut. Because the drink is consumed cold it should be enjoyed slowly. The Pine Nut will get caught on your lip and you will have the urge to stop drinking for a moment allowing your stomach temperature to catch up. So the story goes.
Soo Jung Ga is simple to make. Start with a stockpot filled with cold water. Put in 10 good Cinnamon sticks and around 100 grams of peeled ginger. The ginger needs to be peeled because the peel and flesh of the ginger have opposite effects on the body. This recipe will vary according to the quality of Cinnamon and Ginger you are using.
Bring this to a boil. Once boiling turn down the heat so a simmer for a while longer. We go for 4 hours but it tastes great without the simmer you don't have to.
Add a bit of brown sugar or any other sweetners that you like to taste. Don't add too much because the Cinnamon makes the sugars taste sweeter than it is.
Enjoy a hot cup of this as soon as it is made (great for colds) and put the rest in the fridge to enjoy later. If you want to make the dish fancy, drop a dried Percimmon in the drink 1 hour before you serve it. Looks great served as a dessert dish.
What is the Stone Bowl made of and how do you heat it?
Our stone bowl is made from a big chunk of stone. Hand carved and polished smooth. I don't know why our bowl stays hot longer than other bowls but I think it is because our bowl has a high iron content. Korean Grocery stores like Galleria and P.A.T. carry these bowls for a reasonable price. They won't stay hot as long as ours but they get just as hot and will still make your rice sizzle.
You can heat the bowls on top of the stove. Even an electric stove top works (just takes a few minutes longer) Try soups stews or anything else you like eating hot.
There are two types of bowls. Stone bowls look like raw granite when you first get it and then there are ceramic bowls that look similar but with a glazed coating on them. The Stone bowls need seasoning as the stone surface is porus.
Soak the bowls in salt water overnight. Dry the bowls and put on a light coating of oil on the surface. Heat the bowls and let sit until cool. Repeat the oiling and heating process 4 times. Wash before use.
Don't put hot bowls in cold water. Allow the bowls to cool enough so you can touch it and then soak in hot tap water. Don't scrub the bowls unless absolutely necessary and don't worry if the bowls crack (stone bowls) as they will sometimes crack and heal with use but should not leak.
We don't mind selling you one of our bowls but our bowls cost $100 and you can get a similar one at the K-Grocery stores for around $25. Nothing wrong with the grocery store bowls, they cool down faster and/or the cut is not as good but these are minor points and your food will taste just as great.
What beef and chicken do you use?
At Bi Bim Bap we don't have Pork or Seafood on our menu. We do use Anchovy paste in our KimChi but are shellfish free. We use Canadian Chicken breast. They are smaller but they taste better and healthier. Our Beef comes from a small Korean butcher in Mississauga. Woori Meats specializes in cutting cuts of meat for Korean cooking and always has the best cuts of beef. They sell Korean BBQ beef or Ribs marinated and ready to cook if you need it (need to order 24hrs before) so go check them out 157 Dundas St. W, Mississauga 905 277 9990. The Tofu we use is Pyung Hwa's Organic Firm Tofu. Available in most Korean Gorcery stores. Costs a bit more but more than worth it for the taste. Besides a pack of tofu only costs a few bucks so might as well use the nice stuff. Why am I tell you where I get my stuff? Because my suppliers take good care of me and I dont' mind if they get more business!
Do picky customers bother us?
Not at all. As long as you like the food that you are eating we don't mind catering to your needs. There are a few things that we can't avoid like garlic and onions but other than that we will do anything we can to make the food the way you want it.
DON'T drink the TEA! We serve Barley Tea. Caffiene free but it is wheat based. Our Chicken BiBimBap, Mushroom BiBimBap, Tofu BiBimBap and plain BiBimBap can be made Gluten free. Our Apple hot sauce is gluten free and we have a gluten free soy sauce that you can ask for. If you call 24hr ahead we can do many other dishes gluten free as we stock gluten free flour, starch and soy that we can use in your food. We do need early warning since some of the dishes do take time to make. If you give me a week's notice we can even do BBQ beef or BBQ Ribs gluten free!!
What kind of Brown Rice do you Use?
We use a Pan-Asia brand rice. It is made in California. We wash all our rice many times and rinse until the water becomes clear. We soak the Brown Rice for 2 days until soft and cook it in a regular rice cooker. Pan-Asia White rice has a lower glycemic index than most other short grain rice.
What is the Nutritional Value of your food?
I don't know. I do many things to make sure that it is healthy as possible but I have never done an analysis. We use as many Local Products as possible. We use only Sea Salts. Instead of sugar we use Fruits, Dark Brown Sugar, Organic Honey, Agave Syrup as substitutes. We use different ones for different foods and little of it as possible. In our food we use 3/4 cup of rice, 1.5 cup of vegetables and 100g of meat is our single serving. All our sauces are made in house to minimize sodium, sugar and keep out MSG. Our KimChi is also made in house...... I'm hoping that what we serve is healthy because my family eats here.