South Korea // Jeolla //

Jeonju bibimbap

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Jeonju’s most famous dish is, without doubt, its bibimbap (전주 비빔밥). Regular bibimbap – a mixture of vegetables served on a bed of rice, with a fried egg and meat on top – is available across the country, but in Jeonju they’ve picked up the formula and run with it. Recipes vary from place to place, but the ingredients are always well chosen and may include anything from pine kernels to bluebell roots or fern bracken in addition to the usual leaves and bean sprouts. In addition, your meal will invariably be surrounded by up to twenty free side dishes, made with just as much care, and an even greater variety of ingredients. Beware, however, of restaurants that claim to serve authentic Jeonju bibimbap – many places, particularly around the train station and bus terminals, will simply give you a regular version of the dish (though genuinely made in Jeonju, and thereby circumnavigating Korea’s already weak product description laws). One way to sort Jeonju wheat from Jeonju chaff is the price – for the real deal, you shouldn’t be paying less than W8000, but even at double this price it’s likely to be money well spent.

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