It’s sometimes hard to not fall into the mindset that dinner has to be a big deal. This is possibly due to the fact that I like to cook at home and prefer to save eating out for nicer occasions. Sadly, that way of thinking has left me ignorant of the smaller spots that are ideal for single meals that don’t require at least three people to finish. As a result, it’s quite refreshing to visit a place that specializes in small, simple meals that are both affordable and delicious. It’s even nicer when they offer take out.
I didn’t know of O’Bibimbap until someone had advertised it on Facebook. Since I had been itching to try a new place in the Sangmu area, I dragged my roommate to the restaurant with me after making up some excuse to be in the area. Though small, the restaurant was surprisingly easy to find due to it being located on one of the main streets in Sangmu. While it looked fairly unassuming on the outside, the personal touches in decor made the interior charming.
Before we could find a place to sit, I found myself distracted by reading the limited, yet tempting menu. As expected with the name, the restaurant’s specialty was 비빔밥 (bibimbap), which literally means “mixed rice”. Though there were some expected options, such as the 숯불구이 비빔밥 (sutbulgu-i bibimbap), which looked like a combination of charcoal grilled pork with all the usual fixings, and the 청양고추 매콤한 낙지 비빔밥 (cheong-yang-gochu maekomhan nakji bibimbap), better known as spicy octopus bibimbap, there were some pleasant surprises on as well. I was impressed to see a vegetarian option, which was listed as 신선한 야채 비빔밥 (shinseonhan yachae bibimbap), as well as a number of other non-bibimbap choices like udon, dumplings, soup, and fried rice. We ended up ordering the 레몬 닭가슴살 비빔밥 (lemon dakgaseumsal bibimbap), also known as lemon chicken breast bibimbap, 스팸+숯불+김치볶음밥 (spam+sutbul+kimchi bokkeumbap), simply named Spam + Charcoal Pork + Kimchi Fried Rice, and an order of 쫄깃 감자 물만두 (jjolgit gamja mulmandu), chewy potato boiled dumplings. We also purchased a can of Dr. Pepper after excitedly noticing that it was available.
After we placed our orders, the owner of the restaurant, who appeared to be working all by herself, brought out a couple of oven baked eggs for us to enjoy as an appetizer. Due to the bitter cold we had just dealt with outside, cracking open the warm eggs was a welcome distraction. Soon after, we received our dumplings. While most forms of boiled dumplings I’ve had have been rather boring, I was happy to see that what we got had been seasoned and came with three different sauces. Trying the tasty little dumplings with each sauce made the experience rather fun, giving us new flavor combinations with each bite.
Before long, the rest of our food arrived. Each rice dish came in its own tray with its own sides, making it so that we didn’t have to fight over pieces of fish cake and kimchi. I first tried the lemon chicken bibimbap, which was filled with fresh vegetables and came with a side of lemon soy sauce. Though we were warned that using the entire amount of sauce we were given would make things too salty, it was too delicious not to go overboard with it. I’ve always known bibimbap as somewhat of a heavy dish, so it was an appreciated change to enjoy a version that seemed reminiscent of a light chicken salad. The rice to vegetable ratio was balanced, and the amount given was just enough. The fried rice, on the other hand, was rich, hearty, and packed with flavor. Topped with a fried egg and extra meat, the whole dish was as delicious as it was comforting. I did feel a little guilty for indulging in what was probably the less healthy option after eating the salad-like bibimbap, but I grew to care less with each spicy bite.
At the end of our meal, we were both satisfied without being too full. The only downside was that I found myself wishing I lived in Sangmu so that I could take full advantage of visiting this place for easy take out. Everything we had was delicious and made with a special kind of care that could only be found in small, independently run spots like this one. Though I wouldn’t recommend large parties or large orders for a place like O’Bibimbap, it’s the perfect spot for a fairly balanced dinner that doesn’t break the bank. While I don’t live close enough to visit often, I can definitely see myself returning soon to enjoy the food and the calming atmosphere.
Address: 광주 서구 치평동 1184-2 (across the street from Star Box sauna)
Hours: 11:00AM to 9:00PM
Average Price Range: 5,900 to 6,900 per person