It’s time to dive into Korean fried chicken and bibimbap, at least the way Seoul-born, St. Paul-residing chef John Gleason is doing it.
Choose your own adventure: Twice fried in tempura-style batter until super crunchy, the chicken makes for a great sandwich, bibimbap rice bowl, or a nice bite on its own. We liked the Bap and Chicken, with kimchi, baby cauliflower, mushrooms, bok choy, poached egg, and sauce (ranging from the soy-heavy barbecue to a spicy, off-menu kiwi sauce). $13.50 for a very hearty bowl.
I’m a thigh guy when it comes to chicken, and the Korean fried boneless thighs did not disappoint. That deep, rich, meaty flavor you expect from thighs, with the incredible crispiness from the tempura batter, coated my stomach in all the right ways, at $15 for three.
There’s a nice list of snacks and appetizers, with a lot of vegetarian options, and Bap and Chicken’s bar makes for a comfortable place to hang out. We especially liked the dumplings, which were filled with sweet-potato noodles and vegetables.
The Egg Kimbap is like a sushi roll with egg, tofu, and vegetables. It had a very subtle flavor, so the dipping sauce was a must. I didn’t love the fact that Bap and Chicken uses those awful, short metal stools so common in new restaurants. They don’t have a back. They’re just horribly uncomfortable.
But I loved that there’s a wall in the restaurant to celebrate adoptive parents: John Gleason was adopted from Korea, brought to Minnesota, and now he’s celebrating the special love that happens through adoption. You might question whether or not some of Gleason’s food is “authentic,” but I’d argue that it’s authentically John Gleason. It’s Minnesota-Korean, and it’s a great addition to St. Paul.
Bap and Chicken
1328 Grand Ave., St. Paul