Any good bi bim bap in the Peninsula?
My experience of bi bim bap is limited to one time in Detroit many years ago. I have always wanted to repeat the experience, but Yelp reviews of various Korean places in the peninsula are not encouraging. I want the "real deal" - scorching hot stone bowl, crusty rice on the bottom, etc. Is there anywhere in the peninsula that won't disappoint?
Beware your memories vs reality. I would suggest just trying a few korean places instead of heading for "the real deal" on the first try.
I have not been to Tofu House in San Mateo, but I like the pictures of the bowls and food. I think the panchin are a little skimpy, but the bowls look good. I think it's worth a try.
So Gong Dong's stone bowl - etc - isn't very impressive. The place on Willow on MP - nope. Han's - don't even think about it. There's a new place in PA in Town and Country, no real reports yet.
I do think Su-Dam right at the Los Altos - Palo Alto - Mountain View border is worth a try. I've only eaten there once, but I thought the dish I had (spicy BBQ pork) was decent. Try that one.
Totoro in MV - nope. Ginsing, MV - average.
Once you cross the MV border, there's a lot of places, most of which I haven't tried, but I consider that the boundary between the peninsula and the south bay.
In Santa Clara, Cheon Joo Young-Yang Dolsot next to the Korean mart is excellent.
In San Bruno, i like the Dolsot at Todam Tofu House with its crispy rice and tender beef albeit on the small side.
In South San Francisco, I like the dolsot bibimbap Mom's Tofu House off of Grand Ave. It's a small place, but the owners and staff are very friendly.
I just want to add that in most Korean restaurants, if you order bibimbap, it will be served in a regular bowl. You need to order dolsot bibimbap to get the rice served in a hot stone bowl for a buck or more. My Korean colleague always wants me to stir the rice right after the dish sits down on the table, and I'd reply I'd like the rice to crispy up. No! Often the rice is so moist that it doesn't get crusty but just sticks to the hot stone after a while. :-(
My work colleagues arranged a team dinner at Jang Su Jang in Santa Clara that was memorable. I am not an aficionado of Korean food, but this certainly had an authentic feel to it. We ordered bi bim bap and I think it was served as you describe in a sizzling hot metal bowl. Unfortunately when the server asked about our spice level preferences, one or our party made it clear to our server that he really does not like spicy food, so all dishes were notably wimpy. Good service, I guess, but unfortunate from my perspective. Even the side dishes, including the kimchi, were on the bland side. But I suspect we (the only non-Asian patrons in the room) were given special, unfortunate treatment.