6.021 Bibimbap


26 (Mon) January 2015



by Korean Air

on Flight KE 623

-Somewhere Over the Pacific Ocean-


The Prodigal Son Returns to Be a Father to His Sons, a Grandson to His Grandparents, Day 5 (see previously 6.020 Jesa Spread).

In town for a few days, arrived Thursday evening, flying back tonight.

3 tasks on the agenda : (1) attend Z’s daycare pageant–done; (2) ski with D–done; (3) engage in shamanistic ritual for the grandparents–done.


In-flight bibimbap, a great idea.

Most important, it’s reliably tasty, never disappointing.  In fact, according to various internet sources, it’s widely regarded as one of the best meals available in the sky anywhere in the world.

And healthful.

Noteworthy from a service perspective, it’s constructed and presented as a bonafide representation of the dish, pretty much exactly how it would be in a restaurant or home, each serving individually prepared by hand, no sense of factory mass production.

It’s a fine ambassador for Korean cuisine and Korean culture.

Developed by Korean Air in 1997, it’s now available on Asiana Airlines and other Korean carriers, as well as foreign carriers flying out from Incheon (e.g., I’ve seen bibimbap offered on KLM and Lufthansa).

Regrettably, they haven’t come up with anything new in all the time since, at least nothing that has stuck.

Haetban–vacuum-packed steamed rice that’s reanimated via microwave oven in 2 minutes, perfect every time–enhances the bibimbap experience with piping hot “fresh” rice.
Miyeok guk (0.5)–dehydrated seaweed soup + hot water, the only shortcut and shortcoming in an otherwise legit meal; tip: a couple spoonfuls onto the rice will help loosen things up and make mixing easier.
Sesame oil to drizzle over the veg + gochujang (chil paste) to squeeze into the mix, according to personal preference (I use about 1/3 of the tube).
Mumalaengi (2.0)–spicy dried radish strips, kinda like kimchi but without fish sauce and other pungent aromatics; probably offered in lieu of kimchi, which would stink up the cabin.
As I’ve noted before, all bibimbaps end up looking and tasting pretty much the same once everything is mixed together (see generally 1.269 Bibimbap), which is a good thing.

Notwithstanding all of the above, I never once ordered the bibimbap on any of my trips abroad while living in Korea for the past decade.  Even though I would very likely not enjoy the other option, I always wanted something new, something surprising, for better or for worse, something different, anything but Korean food.

But now that I’m based in the Philippines, where I’m no longer forced to eat Korean food on a daily basis, I try to get it whenever I can (see for example 6.010 Jeonju Bibimbap), even on the plane, both coming and going.

Prestige-Class Bibimbap on the way in–nearly identical, except the additional soy pickled onion side dish, doenjang (miso) soup, and of course the porcelain plating.

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