Saturday, October 17, 2009

bibimbap! dinner

(Don't mind the exclamation mark. It's just the expression I used whenever I mentioned the word. Makes me soo excitable!)

While chatting with her online, my cousin Nor kept mentioning how much she missed eating Bibimbap, the famed Korean mixed-rice dish.

She's one of those with whom I always visit ZingDo with and we can't help reminiscing the affordable, yummy and halal Korean fare that we could get from there.

For those in the unknown, ZingDo used to be at Jurong Entertainment Centre, located at Jurong East Central. However, the whole building is currently undergoing extensive renovations and it's not yet known if ZingDo is going to re-open there or find another location elsewhere.

Or if it's even re-opening at all.

We searched online for halal Korean fare and came up with BBQ Chicken (Korea's version of KFC, albeit high-end), Seoul Garden (BBQ meat buffet) and Fresh Bulgogi.

Out of this, only Fresh Bulgogi really serve bibimbap. And the only location is the one all the way at Changi Airport Terminal 2. Oh bummer!

I know there are halal Korean food stalls around somewhere but their fare is not quite decent. We've been quite pampered by the foods at ZingDo and Fresh Bulgogi, where the flavours are pretty much authentic. Oh, the both of them are under the same company, except that Fresh Bulgogi is more high-end (and of course, more expensive!).

So Fresh Bulgogi it is.

Trooped down all the way there (thankfully, someone's driving). All four of us are big fans of Korean dramas and we've been very much intrigued by the scenes of food being served, which is pretty much ubiquitous in EVERY one of their dramas and even movies.

Fried chicken drumlets ~ $5.99

For my cousin Imah, who LOVES her chicken.

Deep-fried assorted mushrooms ~ $5.99

Something that I never missed ordering back at ZingDo.

Crispy spinach ~ $5.99

Used to order this back at ZingDo, too. Check out the crispy exterior! The batter obviously had lotsa' chili/seaweed flakes and sesame seeds. Yums!

Kimchi ~ $3.99

MUST order an extra portion of this, to be eaten with the side dishes. I really love their version, which is less acidic/sour.

The portion is definitely smaller here as compared to ZingDo.

Seafood and chicken hotpot ~$26.99

We opt for them to prepare this for us in the kitchen because we're too lazy and hungry for any D.I.Y.

But they brought out the dish a tad late, so the contents seemed pretty much over-cooked.

If I last recall, the kimchi flavour used to be much stronger last time I was here. Did some customer complain of the flavour being too overpowering or did they deliberately dilute the taste?

Beef Bulgogi bibimbap ~ $10-99

Bulgogi marinated beef with seasoned mungbean sprouts, stir-fried spinach, kimchi and raw egg in the centre.

The gojuchang (Korean sauce made of fermented bean paste and chili) was served in a separate bowl. Oh, how I miss the free-flow of gojuchang and chili paste back in ZingDo. They were kept in 2 small jars and were readily available on every table.

Chicken Bulgogi Bibimbap ~ $9.99

I don't know why the chicken version was rated with 2 chillies on the menu, meaning that it's rather spicy. I thought the bulgogi marinate should be the same, be it for beef or chicken?

They serve the 'Dolsot Bibimbap' version here, (the following is quoted from Wikipedia) where the contents are placed in a hot stone bowl/pot in which a raw egg is cooked against the sides of the bowl. The bowl is so hot that anything that touches it sizzles for minutes. Before the rice is placed in the bowl, the bottom of the bowl is coated with sesame oil, making the layer of the rice touching the bowl golden brown and crispy.

...I love that last line. Heh.

We were darn full at the end of the meal. Desserts were definitely out of question.

Service was quite lacking in the beginning, probably due to that the restaurant was pretty packed then. Towards the end, the service improved much and the servers met to our requests for drinks top-up of both ice & warm water every now and then.

Total damage was $103.50. It could have been cheaper had our cousin been able to use her Zingrill discount card but it was public holiday eve, that day.

Iced double choc., Ultimate ice-blended, hot chai latte & cake

Despite being full, the short walk to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf somehow subside the discomfort a little and we decide to chill for a bit.

I insist on ordering a cake, despite their protests, for I want to somewhat celebrate the belated birthday of my cousin, Sue. So much for being 'very full'. All the drinks ordered were the largest portion. =P

When I gave Sue the honour of having the first bite, another cousin (who's used to getting the attention) asked, "Why her and not me?"

"Because it's her birthday yesterday...?"

Only then she relented. Like that also can, ah? pfft!

PS: After having that hot chai latte, I had a very looong and satisfying burp. What a relief! Must be those cardammoms!

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