Monday, October 18, 2010

bimbimbap. young bean.

out of all the cities i've ever lived in, i miss Tokyo the most. it's a bittersweet sentiment. i had one of the lowest points in my life so far in tokyo, but i also had the best fun of my twenties. i miss the constant sense of novelty, the never ending assault on my senses as i sought every experience in a city which has so much quirkiness, tradition, convention and . the language barrier was difficult, but also in part a reasonably enjoyable challenge as i navigated round the city, speaking in broken japanese to waiters, cabbies and the odd businessman who tried to chat me up and buy me a drink. i miss the club we used to frequent where models were given free entry - it made for great eye candy. i miss the ramen counter in shibuya where many a post-partying 4am eating binge was held - we loved it because we could just punch in our choices into the ramen vending machine and no japanese was needed to be spoken. i miss the sunday afternoon walks around harajuku and yoyogi park to watch the teenage goths and teenage rock bands rehearsing next to elvis presley wannabes. i miss the japanese curry houses where we would compete over lunch to test our tolerance of the spiciest curry levels - i usually won. i miss the hospital themed bar where cocktails came in sryinges. i miss the amazing array of takeout options for dinner when working late - especially the man who would bring me dolsot bimbimbap, stone bowl and all, right up to my desk.

dolsot bimbimbap. i rate it among my favourite comfort foods. it's a shame no one offers that service of bringing stone bowls laden with rice right to your desk in london. but i’ve found an alternative source. lunch with J at Young Bean has become a regular occurrence since i started work in the city. we often have bimbimbap cravings and we come to this place to eat the good stuff. Taki, the brazillian-japanese head waiter is charming, and still tries to offer us the menu when all we only ever want is beef dolsot bimbimbap and perrier. i couldn't eat bimbimbap if it doesn't come in a stone bowl anymore. it's fantastic, the sizzling rice, the glistening egg, the strips of raw beef, the jullienned mix of carrots, seaweed and greens. you heap your chosen quantity of chilli sauce into it. you mix. and you eat. i like to let my rice sizzle a little more so that hopefully a nice crust forms around the bottom of the bowl which i can then crack into little crisp pieces. Young Bean isn't fancy, and most of the lunch crowd comes for the buffet lunch spread. But they do a good bimbimbap - the sauce is right, the ratio of ingredients is balanced, the stone bowl properly hot so you get lots of crusty bits. its all about the crusty bits.

Young Bean
2-3 Bassishaw Highwalk


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