My November was filled with lots of unexpected troubles and very little Korean food. A sick foster cat, a burst water pipe, a flooded home, a broken toe, and several other things led to a strange month for me. But December is looking much better, and I was thrilled to finally manage to get to a Korean restaurant recently for a meal, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I decided to try Bi Bim Bap after seeing that their menu had vegan (and gluten-free) options clearly labeled.
After reading their FAQ, I was even more eager to go. They say that they are happy to cater to people with dietary restrictions, and then encourage people to call ahead of their visit to request extra gluten-free options.
I did call ahead, although they said they weren’t able to do anything extra that was vegan and gluten-free for me, so that was a bit unfortunate. Despite that, there were still vegan, gluten-free options for me, and there are plenty of vegan options that are not gluten-free, for those of you who don’t have that (very annoying) limitation on your diet.
I ordered dishes that were not gluten-free as well, and tried very tiny bites of it, and got my friends to enjoy the rest of it, so that I would be able to sample more of their vegan options.
Here are the dishes we tried at Bi Bim Bap. I will mention dishes that are gluten-free, for anyone who might be interested, since things were labeled very clearly on the menu, and gluten-free options were discussed and explained at the table.
Tofu with spicy soy glaze
This tofu dish is vegan, but not gluten-free. These are lightly floured cubes of tofu that are fried and topped with a sweet soy glaze with a bit of spice. The tofu was not very firm, and not crispy, so it wasn’t exactly what I had expected, but they had a very nice flavour.
This dish is labeled as both vegan and gluten-free. This is a stone bowl of julienned fries with kimchi, Korean BBQ sauce, Korean mayo, and green onions on top. These were surprisingly delicious. I couldn’t stop going back to them! The flavour was unique and very tasty.
One thing that I will mention about the kimchi is that there is some conflicting information on their website about whether it is vegan or not. They label it as vegan on their menu, but in their FAQ, they mention that it has anchovy paste. When I asked about this on the phone, they said it was fish-free and then quickly corrected himself, saying that it is shellfish-free. I asked which it was, fish-free or shellfish-free, and he said it was vegan. Then I asked if there was anchovy in it, and he said no. I am still not 100% sure that it is vegan, so feel free to ask about the anchovy paste if you decide to try it for yourself.
Dukpoki spicy rice cake
This dish is vegan, but not gluten-free.
The dukpoki/tteokbokki (떡볶이, stir-fried rice cakes) had a sauce that had a very mild spice. The rice cakes had a nice texture and the sauce was really good. They had lots of pickled veggies on top.
This dish is vegan, but not gluten-free.
The japchae (잪채, a sweet potato noodle dish with vegetables) was very good. The japchae noodles were well cooked, and the vegetables were too, and it had a nice flavour. There was a lot of onion, some purple cabbage, carrot, green onion, and more. I forgot that it was possible to add tofu to the japchae, so mine was without tofu.
The banchan (반찬, side dishes) were simple. Just some kimchi and some pickled vegetables.
All of us also got a small miso soup with our meal. It was simple and quite good. It had a tiny bit of tofu in it, and some green onion.
I didn’t try the traditional stone bowl bibimbap, (돌솥비빔밥, a rice dish cooked in a stone bowl) even though it is the restaurant’s namesake, because they had some different bibimbap dishes on the menu that I haven’t seen at other restaurants. The bibimbap is an option though, and it is vegan and can also be gluten-free upon request. It can have fried tofu or steamed tofu.
Seed Stone Bowl Rice
Instead of the traditional bibimbap, I decided to try the seed stone bowl rice dish.
This dish is vegan and gluten-free.
This dish had 6 seeds, and I’m not quite sure what all of the seeds were (pumpkin, sunflower, and hemp were some of them). It also had some vegetables (carrot, radish, purple cabbage, and green onion).
I tried many of the different sauces with this dish, but the apple gochujang was my favourite.
This dish was great. It was very different from the rice dishes I’ve tried before. It was really interesting to have so many seeds mixed into my rice. None of the seeds were super hard or crunchy, which I think might have made this meal less enjoyable. It was a nice, complimentary mix of flavours.
My friends had the mushroom bibimbap, which was very good as well. It is vegan and gluten-free and has 9 different mushrooms, some seaweed, carrot, cucumber, radish, and cucumber.
There were seven different sauces were brought out with the meal, and someone (not our server) came and explained each sauce to us. He explained what was in each one, which were gluten-free, what each sauce is good with, and a little bit of why/how they are made. I loved their sauces, and tried a tiny taste of each, but stuck with the gluten-free options for my meal.
Their apple gochujang (고추장, red chili paste) sauce is gluten-free and delicious. They use half the sugar their sauce would normally have, and substitute the remaining sugar with apple. Gochujang paste often has wheat in it, so they make their own chili paste without gluten. The apple flavour of the sauce is subtle and moderately sweet, with a little spice.
The other gluten-free option is a soy sauce.
Their extra hot sauce is delicious. It is spicy, but has a great flavour. It has gochujang and habanero in it. They also have a sesame bean ssamjang sauce, an original gochujang sauce, a soy garlic sauce, and a sour hot gochujang sauce.
After our meals, they brought us each a cold, sweet drink that was delicious. The drink was called sujeonggwa (수정과, a sweet drink), and had a hint of ginger, lots of cinnamon, a little brown sugar, and a pine nut floating in it. The pine nut is supposed to hit your lip as you drink, making you drink it more slowly.
The restaurant was bigger than I had expected, and it was very bright and clean. It wasn’t at all busy when we were there on a weekday evening.
The service at Bi Bim Bap was pretty good. The waitress was nice, and was very helpful when I asked questions about the menu. The food was served moderately quickly. They also made sure to mention whenever they set down something on the table that wasn’t gluten-free.
I give Bi Bim Bap 4.5 stars. I enjoyed their food, the service was good, and they had a variety of vegan options and gluten-free options.
Just the Facts
This restaurant has two locations. I ate at the location on College.
- Address: 598 College St
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11am-10pm, closed on Mondays
- Address: 950 Eglinton Ave. West
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 12pm-10pm, Sunday 12pm-8pm, closed on Mondays
- Website: https://www.stonebowl.ca