Gangnam-style bistro dining
Beer and fried chicken never tasted so good, especially after the combo was popularized by the K-Pop drama serial Love from the Stars. Pauline D. Loh tells you where to find it in Beijing.
The sultry afternoon wind still has hints of summer in it as we settle into the al fresco terrace outside Bibigo’s Indigo outlet, just off the arty boundaries of the 798 District. Even as we examine the menu, we are distracted by a life-sized, white suited Psy grinning at us from the full-length shop window.
Psy is spokesman for the Bibigo restaurants, owned by the South Korean food giant CJ Group, which also operates the popular bakery Tous Les Joules.
It has several outlets in Beijing, at choice locations such as the China World Mall and Lido, but for ambiance and location, it is the restaurant at Indigo that takes the prize.
The current promotion is all about the autumn ingredients such as lotus roots, mushrooms and the baby octopus. My eye linger over the Bulgogi and Octopus Hotpot set until I see the Fried Chicken and Beer set.
That’s it. After hearing so much about South Korean fried chicken and beer, I would finally get to taste it, and at such pleasant surroundings at that. I make the spouse order the Octopus hotpot so we can share it.
The fried chicken can be paired with beer, or a couple of mini-jugs of Mojitos, which again can be non-alcoholic if you choose.
The third order at our table is the Assorted Mushroom Hotpot, which is a lot like bibimbap and comes with a really spicy fresh baby octopus and greens salad. In keeping wit hthe season, the rice also came with a generous chunk of braised lotus root.
The fried chicken was delicious and will live up to vicarious day-dreams of handsome professors and fairytale romances. The chunks were all de-boned and the exactly what fried chicken should be – crips outside and succulent inside. The portion is pretty generous, too.
The Bulgogi and Octopus hotpot comes with rice and a side of acorn meal pancakes. These pancakes are a part of the Korean diet, and the speckled brown wraps are nutty, and chewy, with a generous filling of vegetables.
But it is the soup that I cannot stop dipping my spoon into. Spicy, but sweet, flavorful yet light, it is very addictive.
The mushroom hotpot was the lightest set on the table and it had very refreshing flavors which will definitely appeal to ladies wanting a light lunch that will not do too much damage to their diet plans. Bibigo is representative of updated city-style Korean dining, giving us a much appreciated option from the infamous table barbecue places scattered around Beijing that pretend to be Korean.
I like the honesty of the food at Bibigo, and the freshness of the ingredients used. Portions are generous and if your average expenditure hovers around 100 yuan, you are at least assured of good food cooked well.
If you go:
BIBIGO 1/F, 153 Indigo Mall,18 Jiuxianqiao Lu Chaoyang District, Beijing
Updated: 2014-09-24 (chinadaily.com.cn)