Just when we thought the train of modern Korean restaurants had long set off, the ‘demon chef’ Alvin Leung from One Michelin star Bo Innovation enters the scene with yet another casual ‘urban’ take on Korean food. But will Bin n Hops prove to be devilishly delicious enough to win over our resident food blogger lolleroll?
Located in Wan Chai, Bib n Hops lives up to the standard of good vibes its neighbours (22 ships, Ham & Sherry) have brought to Ship Street, as they played epic hip hop throwbacks like No Diggity as we walked in. But unlike those restaurants, the seating arrangement was very comfortable and pretty spacious too. They also take bookings, making the restaurant a good choice for medium-sized group gatherings and dates alike. The nice, spacious outdoor area for drinks is an added bonus.
We had decided on a few items already and contemplated whether we were ordering too much. But who could say no to Kimchi Fries? From the name itself, you wouldn’t expect anything revolutionary, especially given the well-established kimchi-everything precedent set in Hong Kong. Even though it wasn’t extremely inventive, it was well thought out and put together. It was better than any other version of this dish I’ve tried.
They don’t really serve ‘fries’ here, they are more like wedges of potatoes. The potato was lathered with onions, tomatoes, sour cream, and some gravy. Most importantly there were generous chunks of pork belly and cheese incorporated into the mixture, so that every bite had good layers of flavours.
I didn’t know what to expect when I read in the description that the Vongole Japchae used ‘sweet potato noodles’, but then I found out that the Korean glass noodles ‘Japchae’ are made out of sweet potato starch – so that wasn’t the inventive part!
We were huge fans of this Italian-Korean combination, which was surprisingly interesting and perfect at the same time. The noodles had a good chew to them, and were mixed with pesto and pine nuts, then sided with clams. It was definitely the most unique dish we tried here.
The Peruvian Spiced Pork Belly Bibimbap was my personal favourite dish of the night. Again, the pork belly was deliciously flavoured, fatty, and slightly charred on the outside. The rice itself was also delicious and had a good chew to it, and some burnt rice bits were welcome too.
This dish came with a jalapeño aioli instead of the usual spicy Korean sauce and I think this made a huge difference to the uniqueness and creativity of the dish – I mean that’s what you’re expecting when you come to a new restaurant which flaunts an ‘urban’ cuisine. The aioli looked strange at first and as we dipped our chopsticks in to taste test, it also didn’t feel right. We then mixed parts of it separately on our plates to discover that the sauce was the game changing magic formula which spiced up and ‘originalised’ the dish. So yes, do mix it in!
As we moved on to the Galbi Beef Short Ribs, it turned out to be the most forgettable dish of the lot. There was nothing wrong with it, but I suppose if you come here with the expectation of unique and inventive food, then this dish will unlikely impress you. One to miss maybe.
Even though the abundance of Korean fusion restaurants in the recent two or three years should make me feel exhausted to visit yet another new one, I was impressed with Bib n Hops for delivering generally good food, without ever making me feel like they were ‘trying too hard’. I feel like this sometimes happens when restaurants want to be interesting for the sake of being interesting, but Bib n Hops definitely didn’t go down that route.
While not all dishes are extremely inventive, you can expect a relatively straight-forward and delicious meal, as they focus on a subtle combination of flavours from different cuisines. And at around $400 per person, you won’t exactly break the bank in the process.
Bib n Hops, Shop 13 (2/F) J Residence, 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, (+852) 2882 9128