Bibimbap Backpackers

I was giving it some thought the other day, and I realized, when I started this blog so many years ago, I have no idea what possessed me to think I was in ANY way qualified to talk about, well, anything. But more than that I was hardly qualified to talk about what I seemed to be focusing on, which was food. But I seemed to be doing it anyway. I think when I first started this blog, I hadn’t really tried a lot of things. Indian food, Vietnamese food, and I think this post may have been the first time I’d ever tried Korean food. I hadn’t even taken my own pictures! I was incredibly lame.

I’ve come a long way since then, and I have to say I’m more than happy to admit I still don’t know as much as I’d like about different cuisines. And that’s okay with me. I love constantly having something to learn. So when the Bibimbap Backpackers emailed me about attending their Los Angeles event, I jumped at the opportunity. These guys are like Korean Food Missionaries, traveling all over to spread the good news of bibimbap. So I grabbed my homegirl The Minty, and my friend Chrissy for a couple hours in K-Town for what was a fun and tasty experience.


We were invited to the Los Angeles Korean Cultural Center to learn about bibimbap and the Bibimbap Backbackers work with some pretty well known US Korean Chefs, including, Hooni Kim, Bill Kim, and Roy Choi. We were introduced to several dishes. One of the things I think I may have mentioned in an interview was that Korean food is not all that dissimilar from Japanese food (although I may have said it more, um, stupidly than that…I’m not good on camera.).

Some of the fare for the afternoon:

Fried Mandu:

Tteokbokki: (which the BB guys were calling “little snowmen!”)

Japchae – which is normally a looser noodle dish, but they fried it with eggs in a more omelet-like fashion, and a soy-sauce dressing:

And two tasting bibimbap:

Gangdoenjang (Soybean paste – I’m almost thinking it’s like miso) Bibimbap:

and Ganjang (Kind of a Korean soy sauce) Bibimbap with Pork Belly:

Then there was a short presentation about how to make bibimbap and good times to eat it. I think my favorite was when one of the gals said that bibimbap is good for breakups. Apparently there is a recurring theme in Korean dramas where a girl is going through a breakup and just pulls everything out of the fridge and makes some seriously crazy bibimbap and eats it all! They also talked about bibimbap being a symbol for harmony – all the colors and flavors coming together to make one delicious dish.

Then we were invited to make our own bibimbap. They set up stations for toppings and we were giving bowls of rice, and told to have at it!

Here’s mine – It’s almost like Japanese Chirashi…which is what I was TRYING to say in the interview. And failed…

I was clearly quite proud of my bibimbap though… :)

I had a lot of fun, and I learned quite a bit. Thank you so much to the Bibimbap Backpackers team for this experience! I have a greater appreciation for Korean cuisine now.

For more info about the Bibimbap Backpackers, check out their website:

Or their Facebook:

(Note: you may need to bust out Google Translate on both)

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this post other than the free tasting food at the event. All opinions are my own.

Trick-or-Treat!! *GIVEAWAY*

***This giveaway is now closed. Winner will be notified by email.***


Happy Halloween everyone!! I know I promised you guys a giveaway last week, so in honor of this treat filled holiday, here it is. I got to work the Ración table at the EMAs a couple weeks ago. The event was CRAZY. There were so many people coming up to our table to try our dish, and with only Erica, Teresa, and I manning the table, it almost felt like being back on the taco truck!!

We were serving up tastes of Costillas Cortas – braised beef short ribs with white lentils and spicy padron peppers. DELICIOUS! And we couldn’t plate them fast enough! But we had a great time, and got some publicity for the restaurant. Not to mention, we got a ton of SWAG…

It didn’t feel right not to share. So here’s what you get:

  • 2 Pouches of Plum Organices Strawberry Mish Mash (not gonna lie – I tried it. It’s yummy! Yes, yes, I ate tasted the baby food..)
  • 1 Endurance stainless steel straw (I really like straws, so I thought this was wicked cool)
  • 2 Stila Eyeshadows in “Pigalle” and “Azure” (really pretty colors!!)
  • 1 full sized bottle of Cat Cora’s Kitchen First Cold Pressed Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 gardening kit with potting soil, organic sweet basil seeds, beefsteak tomato seeds, and sunflower seeds from Kellogg and Garden & Bloom
  • 1 2.7 fl oz tube of Episencial Sunny Suncreen (Broad Spectrum 35) with zinc and green tea. And the bottle design is by Eric Carle – you know the Very Hungry Caterpillar guy? Neat!
  • And maybe a surprise gift or two from me! ;) – At my own discretion.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here (make sure you include your email so I have a way to contact you). As a bonus, you can tell me what item you’re most excited about from the mix. Giveaway will run until 11:59 PST on November 7, 2012. That gives you a week! :) One (1) winner will be randomly selected after the giveaway closes and notified via email.

Good luck!

Broadway by Amar Santana

The weekend before last, I had the distinct pleasure of being treated to a tasting at the brand new Broadway by Amar Santana, down in Laguna. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word, but nothing sums up my dining experience there better than, “sublime.” Everything about this meal was fantastic. My friend Chrissy, who’s father does the Oscar Dinner I post about every year, invited me to join her and her parents for dinner. Her aunt’s husband is a partner in the restaurant and it is becoming a family affair. Her aunt will help out on the floor, and their daughter is working as a host.

The space is amazing. It’s on the small side, but it makes it feel intimate as opposed to claustrophobic, and the decor is lovely. The name fits in with the theme of the restaurant – and there are beautiful paintings of the New York skyline on the wall. Their hot line is open kitchen, and the chef’s table is the counter surrounding. We were lucky enough to sit there so we could watch the bustling activity. (Another plus – Chef Adrien, who I believe is the sous, is really cute! Why hide that in the back?!)

The bar had Casablanca playing on the TV above it…classy!

From the chef’s table, you can see all the activity on the hot line – including executive chef and partner, Amar Santana.Chef Amar was previously executive chef at Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdales’ South Coast Plaza, and has quite an impressive resume:

Hot water bath cooking sous vide meats:

The open kitchen is supposed to be like a Broadway show, and it IS an incredible display. But just as delightful (and more importantly) is the food. This was honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Chrissy and I both started with a cocktail called, “Mayan Eyes,” which had Corazon blanco tequila, Xtabenten Honey Liqueur, Tangerine, Lime, Cilantro, and 2 Jalapeño slices. It was fresh and delicious, and the jalapeño was intriguing!

I don’t know who their mixologist is but they have a interesting variety of specialty drinks, and if they are all as delicious as the “Mayan Eyes” I could go hang out just to get drunk…wait…does that sound bad?

Bread is brought around in a basket – buns of different styles, like potato, rosemary, and sourdough. They also serve these really beautiful breadsticks. Butter is served on a slate slab, with pepper, and if you take a breadstick and twirl it in the butter and dip it in the pepper it is delicious.

The salad: heirloom carrot and tomatoes with raw and pickled carrot, carrot emulsion, parsley oil, and feta. Light, yet flavorful.

The first course was a play on a New York favorite: lox and cream cheese on an everything bagel! The salmon filet had an “everything” crust (shaved dried garlic and onion, sesame, poppy and salt),
fried capers, fried salmon skin, salmon roe, finished with lemon oil and dill, citrus creme fraiche. Perfectly cooked and an excellent interpretation of the inspiration.

Second course: Grilled pork chop with chanterelle, shitake, and enoki with mushroom consome and tempura green onion. Beautiful.

Third course was a filet with potato-bacon gratin and fried onion garnish. Oh my god. The meat was so tender and flavorful, and the potato-bacon gratin was AH-MAZING! Chrissy’s aunt Kathy was getting full and didn’t want hers so when she offered it to me, I took it! (Fatty fatterson that I am…)

And after the pork and the filet it was nice to have a light dessert: Quince, saffron ice cream, crumbled shortbread, candied pistachios, and pomegranate reduction. I’d never had whole quince before. I’d had quince jelly, but not the actual fruit. It was nice. The saffron ice cream was probably the most delectable ice cream I’ve ever had, and the texture pairing with the shortbread was perfect.

I firmly believe that everyone should try this restaurant if they can. Chef Amar’s food is a work of art, the ambience of the restaurant is just fantastic – I could spend all day there, and the staff is ridiculously friendly. I definitely intend on going back, even though it’s like a freaking pilgrimage for me to get down there. :) But it will totally be worth it.

Broadway by Amar Santana
328 Glenneyre St
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 715-8234
Broadway by Amar Santana on Urbanspoon