Recently I was invited to an event hosted by a group called Bibimbap Backpackers at the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The purpose of the shindig was to promote awareness of Korean cuisine as a healthy, mainstream option — particularly bibimbap. For the uninitiated, bibimbap is pretty much a big ol’ rice bowl with various veggies and even meats strewn about artfully on top. It all gets mixed around fabulously, and voila! An excellent meal is born.
Pics of the event after the jump…
The Korean Cultural Center on Wilshire Blvd. I had no idea it even existed. Great news: it does!
Inside the center, long tables are set up for the diners. I am of course excited for the eminent meal.
We’re treated to some Mexi-Korean fusion: tortilla chips with a kimchi mayo dipping sauce. It honestly could not be simpler — kimchi and mayo mixed together — but it’s SO good. I’m sure yogurt would be another decent alternative.
One of the Bibimbap backpackers shows us a bowl of bibimbap. Of course, it’s all fake, hence the bibimbap’s gravity-defying state.
Meanwhile, for those needing a refresher course on K-Pop, the Korean Cultural Center is here to help.
Eventually a presentation began. It was sort of a disaster. The speaker wasn’t very loud, and hearing her was difficult thanks to the echoey room and loud K-Pop blaring over the speakers. Plus, there was a group of people (including Betty from Top Chef season 2, randomly) who full on ignored this poor woman and chatted loudly right over her. They acted like they were enjoying Happy Hour at Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar. Totally rude. Everyone gave them the stink-eye.
On the upside, random prizes were handed out, including this Sweet Korean Pancake Mix. I didn’t win anything though. wah wahhh.
Some of the food we sampled. My favorite was probably the chewy, spicy rice ball dish (second from the right).
Finally, we were allowed to go make our own bowl of bibimbap. The Backpackers set up a buffet of sorts and let us choose what we wanted on top of our rice. It should be noted that the people who blabbed over the entire presentation were the first to get in line. Real classy, BETTY & FRIENDS.
As for my bibimbap, I topped it with some mushrooms, white radish, cucumbers, egg, tofu, bulgogi, carrots, and seaweed, among other things. Also noteworthy: Corn Flakes! Great for a crunch.
To learn more about Bibimbap Backpackers and to learn if they’ll be traveling to your hometown, check out their blog here.