22 May Oriental Spoon, Melbourne CBD
I came in towards the end of lunch service (at around 2:20pm) and the restaurant was still relatively busy. Of course, my sights were set on bibimbap. Both dolsot and cold versions were the same price. Standard meats (beef, pork and chicken) were $11, whilst eel and fish roe were $13. There was another option on the menu in its own section underneath the fish roe. I may have been vegetarian but I can’t be sure. There were a lot of things missing from my table, such as spoons (which they keep with the chopsticks in a long, wooden box) and serviettes. I also had to request water, and when the bibimbap arrived I had to ask for the sauce. Fortunately one of the waiters (possibly the manager) seemed to be able to read my mind every time I raised my hand to ask for something, such that I didn’t have to verbalise what I wanted. The bibimbap came with a half-cooked egg (the whites were done and yolks half-done), taugeh, carrots, zucchini, shiitake mushroom, and an ingredient that reminded me of jicama/yambean (used in popiah). I was a bit sad to see there were only 3 pieces of eel, especially after seeing the gigantic mounds of bulgogi they were serving others. Interestingly, apart from the gochujang they also gave a bottle of sweetish soy sauce, which I thought tasted quite good with the bibimbap, however, even without the soy sauce it was full of flavour. Best of all, there were lots of crispy bits on the bottom. I’d previously heard that the Oriental Spoon was somewhat famous for its eel bibimbap, and I would have to say it’s for good reason. Considering the beef version of their bibimbap is 50c cheaper than White Tomato, I’d say that having bibimbap at Oriental Spoon would be a much better decision. The variety of ingredients and the taste was considerably better here. Having said that, perhaps I’m being a bit harsh and White Tomato was just having an off day when I went, but even if I ignored the soggy rice I’d prefer having bibimbap at Oriental Spoon.