December 25, 2012
I can't even count the number of times I've been to B-Bim-Baab in the short three months I have been in Edmonton. The main reason is that the restaurant is just around the corner from my old workplace. And of course the authentic Korean dishes are part of the reason as well. On my first visit, I ordered the restaurant's namesake — the signature bi-bim-baab ($8.99). It was a rice bowl with assorted veggies, a raw egg and sweet-spicy Korean hot sauce. The portion was a bit big for me, but I still managed to finish it. While I enjoyed the fresh and crunchy veggies with the tasty sauce, I didn't like the fact that the rice was just barely warm instead of hot. I think I should have ordered the dolsot bi-bim-baab instead, which is the same thing served in a hot stone bowl.

All entrees are served with banchan, the Korean term for traditional side dishes. The banchan included are always kimchi and bean sprouts.

The dak bulgogi (Korean BBQ chicken) ($15.99) is my absolute favourite dish here. It's a delicious mix of tender chicken, zucchini, grilled onions, bell peppers, carrot shreds, mushrooms and cabbage in a piquant Korean hot sauce with a generous sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. The chicken meat is so unbelievably smooth and tender, and the sauce is just addictive. Be sure to order medium spicy because they don't add in the Korean hot sauce for mild. I ordered mild once and the dish didn't taste the same at all because the seasoning was mostly black pepper.

Another famous Korean dish is the jajangmyun ($8.60), literally translated as "fried sauce noodles". The dish originated in China, but is now considered a national food of South Korea. The Korean version is a bit different with caramel and onions in a black roasted soybean paste, so it's slightly sweet and savoury at the same time. The sauce is heated and poured over soft wheat noodles to make this simple yet comforting dish. In this version there was also pork, eggplant, cucumber shreds, green onions and sesame seeds. The sour pickled radish on the side was quite appetizing and went well with the noodles.

A nice appetizer is the zin mandu ($5.99) or steamed pork and veggie wonton. It's served with a very tasty savoury sauce made with a variety of seasonings.

Goon mandu ($4.99) is the crispy version — fried wonton served with sweet and sour sauce instead of the savoury one. I was quite disappointed since the crispy skin was very thick and hard, and the sauce was watery and bland.

Sometimes I would order green tea ($1.79) or roasted barley tea ($1.29) to go with my food. A hot cup of tea is especially enjoyable on cold winter days. I'm still not used to paying for tea though, since most Asian restaurants in Vancouver offer complimentary tea.

B-Bim-Baab also offers a buffet lunch every weekday for around $10, but I would recommend ordering from the a la carte menu. The buffet selection is small and most of the items are very generic. The a la carte items are prepared with much more care and detail. Even though I haven't been to any other Korean restaurants in Edmonton yet, I think it's safe to say that this one is among the best. But I will be sure to try some other places for comparison.

B Bim Baab Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

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