Grain bowls have become the trendiest meal format in town, but our newest favorite bowl dish is actually an update on something pretty old school: bibimbap.
At Eko Eats—a new Korean-inspired, fast-casual eatery in Downtown—chef Judy Han (who previously worked in fine dining and as Mendocino Farms’ executive chef) is putting a healthy stamp on this traditional Korean dish, which Han calls the world’s “original rice bowl.” Her tasty version of bibimbap features organic, steamed Koda farms rice (white or brown) topped with a vibrant, colorful array of ten vegetables, crispy seaweed and kochujang (Korean pepper paste, also spelled gochujang).
It’s an extremely satisfying vegan dish (small, $7.95; large, $9.95) because of the umami flavors and mix of veggie textures, from meaty braised shiitake mushrooms to chewy seared kale and tender slices of lotus root. For a protein boost, you can add roasted, organic tofu (+$2), a pasture-raised egg (+$1.35) or gluten-free tamari chicken (+$2) sourced from local, sustainable poultry purveyor GoneStraw Farms.
The tight menu features other yummy stuff in bowls, too. House-made chicken bone broth serves as the basis for chicken jook (small, $6.95; large, $8.95), a comforting rice porridge topped with sautéed Asian greens. (You can also order a cup of Han’s vegan “bone” broth, thickened with sprouted cashews, $2.55.) The knockout kimchi fried rice bowl (small, $8.95; large, $10.95) incorporates burdock, kale and Han’s vegan kimchi, which gets its funk from kelp powder and fermented soybeans instead of the traditional fish sauce. A bountiful salad ($11.85) of romaine, Napa cabbage, baby spinach and more is accompanied by either fried tofu or crisp Korean fried chicken, a house specialty.
No matter which dish you choose, you’ll be bowled over.