Calgary BibimBap Champion: Bowls, Korean YYC Restaurant Review

It’s been over a week since my last blog post, which is the first time I’ve gone off schedule for Fung Shui. Over the past week, I realized that with my spring class schedule, return to work, and overall need for some kind of relaxation, I’m going to need to cut down a bit with my posting. So, instead of twice a week, I’ll be posting once a week on Sundays from now on. Hopefully I’ll be able to make better posts once a week, and see where this goes from here!

With that aside, let’s talk about food. Chris and I have been trying to cut down on our food spending, but the need for eating out eventually wore us down.

I’m well-versed in the shopping/restaurant complex near Panorama Hills. With T-Pot (one of the best dim sum places in Calgary), and a huge T&T supermarket, this location attracts those who are looking for some Asian-inspired food. I was ecstatic a few weeks ago when I saw that there was this new restaurant in this area called Bowls, a Korean restaurant with a really adorable logo.

Located right between T&T and T-Pot, this new restaurant’s cute moniker speaks to traditional Korean food. If you’ve ever been to a Korean restaurant before, I’m sure you’re aware of the vast amount of dishes and bowls that soon crowd your table. If you’re not familiar with Korean cuisine, you’ll be astounded with the amount of bowls your server will bring (of course, this is dependent on which dishes you order. Always ask your server for suggestions!)

Sweet Soy Pork Skewers 1
Sweet Soy Pork Skewers

 

 

Chris and I actually ended up ordering items that don’t include the incredible variety of side dishes, but we still received a bowl of kimchi, and a bowl of jelly intended to cleanse your palate. So, if you’re wondering where all the bowls are in my photos, it’s because they’re not there. Typically, ordering dishes like Beef Bulgogi, side ribs, or anything that involves a plate of meat, will signal the arrival of a variety of bowls to your table.

To start us off, Chris and I ordered Chili Garlic Chicken and Sweet Soy Pork skewers. The pork was sweet, and wrapped around a green onion to offer texture and a sharpness to an otherwise oily bite. It definitely looks like they just wrapped bacon around the onion, and honestly, I’m all for it. Seriously, bacon is the best. However, the sweet soy sauce was a welcome addition that elevated the skewer to more than just bacon and onion.

The Chili Garlic Chicken skewers was my least favourite dish out of all that we ordered. While there was great flavour from the roasted garlic, I found the chicken too dry. The outside was drenched in the chili sauce which was delicious, but ultimately, the seasoning just didn’t make up for lack of juiciness in the chicken meat.

Chili Garlic Chicken Skewers
Chili Garlic Chicken Skewers

The star of the show based solely on wow factor was a whole, deep-fried squid. It’s spectacular when they bring it to your table. I guess I’ve never actually seen a whole squid before, and it was just daunting to look at because holy, that’s a ton of deep-fried squid to chow down on.

I really love squid, and this dish was no exception. The squid had that perfect chewy texture, and the batter was cooked well – not too greasy, and not too soggy. Served alongside was some sweet chili sauce (which I slathered over my squid), and some Sriracha mayonnaise which makes literally everything it touches taste better. I would definitely order this whole deep fried squid again, except with about six people at the table instead of two.

Deep Fried Squid
Whole Deep-Fried Squid

The last thing we ordered was the hot stone bibimbap (I can’t go to a Korean restaurant without ordering that). I think, I THINK, I might have found the best bibimbap so far. Hallelujah.

This bibimbap has incredibly flavourful, tender beef. Often, Korean restaurants use small, chopped bits of beef that can become dry and chewy quickly. But Bowls’ bibimbap offers well-marinated beef, a variety of veggies, a smooth, gooey egg, and best of all, crispy rice

The best bibimbap runner-up is Calgary’s Crunchy House, which offers a bibimbap with individually marinated and seasoned ingredients. However, Crunchy House’s bibimbap doesn’t include a stone bowl, which means NO crispy rice. Bowls, though? They have amazing ingredients, flavourful beef, AND a stone bowl. I’m still on my journey of finding the best bibimbap in Calgary, but so far, Bowls is the new champion for a balanced bibimbap.

Bowls is a great find in Calgary’s North West quadrant for authentic Korean cuisine. Next time, I’ll have to try the plates that come with a variety of side dishes, probably beef bulgogi as that hardly ever disappoints. Though I might be cautious ordering their chicken items, I am ready to go back and have another round of crispy bibimbap anytime.

Bowls Bibimbap
Hot Stone Bibimbap

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