You’d never guess you were in a Korean restaurant except for the name Bistro Bulgogi referring to what might be considered the national dish of South Korea. Located in a green and blue strip mall in Doral opposite a Walmart, the interior is sleek and done in neutral tones divided into two dining spaces and a counter in the front one with dark gray colored walls and slate tiles below with industrial metal hanging lights. Lunch is busy when it fills with office workers but dinner is more leisurely paced. The logo is an upside down fork bursting with a flame as much of the menu is grilled here.
Start With These Dishes
Get the shrimp and scallion jeon (pancake) made with a light flour and egg batter pan seared until crisped on the edges but soft inside or the kimchi and chopped shrimp version served with soy balsamic dipping sauce with scallions, sesame seeds and diced bell pepper. Or get beef bulgogi soft tacos with sour cream, grated cheese, onion, lettuce and kimchi salsa. Japchae comes with white yam and bean starch clear noodles stir-fried with onions, bits of beef and slivers of red and orange bell pepper.
There’s also mandu half moon-shaped dumplings stuffed with seasoned ground pork steamed in thin skins served with diced mango and ponzu salsa. Or go with a roll including one with bulgogi beef and vegetables with sweet salty Korean BBQ sauce and pouches made of thin inari-age (sweet deep fried tofu sheets) stuffed with sushi rice.
Share These Dishes
Use traditional steel chopsticks to share an iron pan filled with kalbi, Korean-style short ribs also known as flanken cut across the bone from the chuck end marinated in a fruit and soy sauce mixture and grilled. Dip in mildly hot-sweet gochjang paste made from sun-dried and fermented chiles before gnawing off the bone with bites of banchan, little side dishes of kimchi, fish cake strips, cucumber and shredded carrot salad in kimchi sauce and pickled radish.
Although bulgogi means “fire meat” with thin slices of beef marinated in a sweet soy mixture and grilled over high heat, here it is also made with pork or chicken. Bibimbap, or “mixed rice” is a good communal dish with one person mixing the bowl of rice and toppings together with a long metal spoon. The best is the bulgogi dilsot that comes in a hot stone bowl so a crust forms on the bottom of the rice. Stir in the toppings of beef bulgogi, sautéed button mushroom slices, cooked carrots, summer squash and asparagus with a runny egg. The vegetarian version adds tofu to the veggies. Bulgogi assam is like a lettuce wrap with a choice of marinated pork or beef with scallion salad for rolling in romaine or herbaceous perilla leaves.
Save Room For Dessert
End with frozen and shaved soft serve green tea ice cream that resembles a giant pale green lichen with sweet adzuki beans, diced mango and mochi bits.
What makes It Special
Bulgogi is owned and run by Mi Yeong Kim and her husband Hee Gyu Kang. She grew up on a base as her father was in the South Korean army. After studying business in her hometown of Cheongju she moved to Seoul and became a flower arranger. When her husband was transferred to Miami by his company she went to the Le Cordon Bleu in Miramar and graduated class valedictorian. When her husband quit his job three years ago they pursued their dream of running a restaurant. Here’s where to find unpretentious, clean-tasting Korean food in a tasteful atmosphere, a true mom-and-pop place with traditional fare cooked with updated twists. If you don’t reside in Doral, you have a reason to go. Where else can you get a spicy whelk and squid salad or kimchi and ham stew?