Mumbai Food: Experience a slice of Korea at a restaurant in Andheri
An Andheri B&B and restaurant is the closest you can get to a Korean home experience right here in the city
Bibimbap is possibly the one Korean dish most city foodies are familiar with. One Thursday evening, our search for the bowl of white rice topped with namul (sautéed vegetables), and gochujang (Korean chili pepper sauce), doenjang (fermented soybean paste), fried egg and sliced meat, led us to Bebop, the Andheri-based Korean restaurant and guest house named after the pronunciation of the dish.
(From left) Sides include kimchi, dried chilli radish, pickled eggplant and cucumber. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
The journey is seamless as we find the outlet on Google Maps and make our way to the establishment that works out of two apartments (third and fourth floors). A sign on the door announces the name of the restaurant, and we are ushered into a spick and span space, helmed by owner SH Han. We pick a table for four in the dining area (it can seat 20 patrons) and start browsing the menu. We choose the outlet's namesake, the bibimbap.
Diners at the restaurant
As we wait for the food, we get talking with Han, who lives in another apartment in the building. He is part of the small 500-strong Korean community in the city. He moved to Mumbai from Korea with his wife and daughter last October. "I wanted to travel the world. But after I got married, I wanted to settle down. I came to Mumbai on business trips, but there was no Korean food or guesthouse for us, though it was easy to find Japanese and Chinese food. It seemed like a good combination of business opportunity and my dream," he explains. And though this former environmental engineer couldn't solve Mumbai's water and air pollution issues, he decided to open eight rooms and a dining space that serves his wife's recipes, located close to the airport, to cater to those from Korea and surrounding nations, travelling for work. The decor is minimalist, with basic wooden chairs and tables. It attracts many Japanese businessmen during lunch hours, we are told by Han.
One of the rooms
The service is prompt, as our bibimbap (Rs 800) arrives within 10 minutes - and Han mixes it for us, pouring some kochuchang on it on request. The sides - spicy and tangy kimchi, hot dried radish soaked in chilli sauce; pickled eggplant and cucumber in brine - go perfectly with our mouthfuls of soy-heavy and mildly hot fried egg, rice, radish and cabbage. Though we are always partial towards kimchi, the eggplant has our heart because of its surprisingly likeable fleshy texture that complements its subtle tanginess.
We sieve through the bell peppers in the stir-fried pork (Rs 800) served next; we are gleeful as we take a big bite into the well-done fried meat.
They also purchase from liquor shops nearby and serve beer, which we realise the table next to us has opted for. We end the meal with a bowl of beef ramyun or spicy noodles served with rice (Rs 600), possibly the best we've had in a while. The warm and comforting dish is the perfect way to bid adieu to Mumbai winter. We like that the ramen isn't too thick or thin, and has meaty flavours with a hint of tang and spice.
Booking a room for a night here (Rs 7,871) includes airport pick-up, and a set Korean breakfast and dinner, for which the menu changes every day. While breakfast comprises rice, soup like doenjang chicken or kimchi chicken soup and side dishes, dinner is usually fried rice kimchi served with meat preparations.
We will be back. If not to stay, then for the Ramyun and the sides.
TIME: 12 pm to 3 pm; 6 pm to 10 pm
AT: B 302, Satellite Glory, Andheri-Ghatkoper link road, Andheri East.
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