Restaurant Review: Bibibop Asian Grill
The idea of DIY entrée design has been unappetizing since the whole artichoke-and-pesto-lettuce-sandwich debacle this summer.
But in the Chipotle age of have-it-your way, the design concept is likely to be around for a while. The DIY schtick feels like an eighties salad bar for hygiene freaks. It’s got all the creative control, without the suspicious pedestrian fingers.
Regardless, the raves for Grandview’s new Bibibop are promising enough to give it a whirl, even if It’s DIY Asian bowls (and salads and wraps).
If you’ve been to a Chipotle, you can adjust pretty quickly to Bibibop’s ordering system without looking like a dolt. Customers stand in a line that starts with a decision of whether to get a bowl, a wrap (“rolled”) or a salad. All of those options involve lots of rice, but since it’s Asian-ish, the rice seems not like an abomination. The salad adds lettuce to the rice mix; the wrap turns the whole thing into something like a burrito.
Then there are more decisions:chose from white rice, purple rice, beans and sautéed sprouts. After that, comes the meat decision –all the meaty options looks similar: both the chicken and the spicy chicken are finely diced and dark from the grill, they’re just one shade lighter than the little chunks of steak. Chopped niblets of tofu are also an option.
The meat choice is what determines price point. Chicken options are $6.10, Tofu is $5.50 and Steak is $6.50.
Still there? Good, because there’s still more deciding: things get salady with tiny tendrils of cucumber and carrot, diced potato, corn, lettuce . . . cheese (cheese with sauteed sprouts: there’s a recipe for a disaster). Finally, there are the sauces: yum yum, sriracha, or teriyaki.
In spite of all these choices and opportunities to really goof up, every combo tried was pretty solid.
Of course, it helps to grab a little directory out front: it will steer diners towards specific combos. One called “Joe’s” seems like a good and interesting place to start: it’s a spicy chicken bowl with white rice and potatoes, cucumber, cheese, lettuce, srirachi and yum yum sauce. The combo of srirachi and yum yum is what gives it a little zing and richness at the same time.
Another Bowl, “Ellie’s”, actually does involve the lethal sounding combination of cheese and bean sprouts. Teamed with the steak, lettuce, corn and black beans, it actually works just fine; the house beef has a nice sweet-saltiness to it.
None of the pre-made suggestions were salad-y, so you’re on your own there. Salads start with romaine teamed with rice (purple seems like the most interesting choice). Crowned with sprouts, tofu, the little strands of carrots and cucumber, then drizzled with yum yum sauce: that particular combination made a cohesive salad.
It’s worth noting that, on a whim, you can even make a Chipotle-esque burrito thing: rolled tortilla with rice, corn, black beans, chicken, lettuce, cheese, yum yum and siracha: Viola (or maybe Ole!)
All the toppings are pretty good. The only item that wasn’t terribly loveable in itself was the firm potatoes -but they merged in fine with the mix suggested in that first Joe’s Bowl.
Ultimately, Bibibop fills about the same stomach void as a Chipotle, except Bibibop is a little more local (and a little more Asian). You can find it at 1270 W. Fifth Avenue in Grandview.
More information can be found online at www.bibibop.com.
Photos by Anne Evans, Ayana Wilson and Walker Evans.