Why bibimbap is the food you need in your life right now

Dubai Week Review

Manna Land International City

Burnt out from an intense morning at Dragonmart, we carted our whacky purchases to the newest Manna Land for a pick-me-up lunch of the simple and authentic Korean cuisine that the restaurant has made its name on.

Although they won’t arrive until much later, Bilal Mansour, Partner at Manna Land, says the eatery is a favourite with the Dragonmart business owners, but other customers travel from as far away as Jebel Ali for their kimchi fix. The tart fermented cabbage is served among other small plates as a complimentary “banchan”. YouTube is full of sobbing toddlers encountering the signature Korean dish for the first time, and while it doesn’t move us to tears, we’re happy to pass on second helpings.

Probably equally well-known, but more accessible than its cabbage cousin, is the one-pot wonder that is bibimbap. Seasoned beef, vegetables, white rice and a hot pepper paste are vigorously mixed together with egg at our table and served in a warmed stone pot so the mixture continues to gently cook and bind together. Homely and huge, laced with the wonderful sauce of egg yolk, it’s a straight 10/10 (AED 50).

We finish with small bowls of bing su (AED 12) – miniature snow cone of shaved ice, condensed milk and sweet red beans. Like halo halo? You’ll have feelings for bingsu too.

Sipping on ginseng tea (AED 10) throughout the meal, Bilal can’t let us leave without trying the world’s first fermented ginseng coffee. Branded as Red Coffee and mixed and brewed at our table, it changes our take on fermented foods before we down chopsticks for what we hope is not the last time.