It happens in offices across the world every day. Twelve o’clock arrives and the chorus goes up: “So...what’s for lunch today?”
For Melbourne CBD workers, especially the ones down near Southern Cross, there’s a new option to tempt your taste buds. It’s called Bibimbap. Ten guesses what they specialise in...
Bibimbap was started by graphic designer turned foodie entrepreneur Courtney Jim. Originally it was a food truck, touring festivals, feeding bibimbap bowls to hungry Victorians at weekend markets at private parties. Late last year, Courtney decided the brand was ready for a bricks and mortar space, and they settled down in Katherine Place, just opposite 5 & Dime Bagels.
“The food truck quickly grew a strong fan base. We tested the idea as a pop-up on Punch Lane to see if we could attract the lunchtime office crowd,” says Courtney. “That gave me the confidence to open a physical store.”
Bibimbap doesn’t mess about. The menu is short, sweet and delicious. Every bowl starts with a multi-grain purple rice (a little like the rice you get at Purple Peanut on Collins St). The guys top this with handpicked veggies—usually lightly pickled carrot, daikon, mushroom, shredded cabbage, maybe a little ginger.
Then it’s on to the meat (or more accurately, the ‘protein’—Tofu is a definite option). Carnivores, you can choose from Bulgolgi beef, Teriyaki chicken, Tasmanian salmon or spicy pork. Trust us, spicy pork all the way...
Lastly, finish with a housemade sauce like zingy lemon soy or a traditional Korean bibimbap chilli blend, stir everything together, and eat like there’s nobody watching.
Bibimbap also slings one more (slightly controversial) product. SPAM. Technically it’s the ‘House SPAM’, which is a handmade pork terrine, spiced and seasoned to perfection, sliced into batons or cubes and added to bibimbap bowls (or sushi rolls). Don’t let the ‘SPAM’ name put you off—it’s actually bloody delicious.
The Kathryn Pl store is cute and unpretentious. Big white pendant lights hanging from the ceiling, pops of yellow and green, a drinks fridge up the front stocked with HealthyHumans juices and your basic soft drinks.
Need a caterer? Courtney is still running the food truck and doing a range of private events. You can get all the details here.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White