Being married to a long-time Korean food fan means Iíve always had to search out restaurants and specialty food markets whenever weíve moved, or taken a getaway to a place with an international restaurant scene. Not that I donít enjoy it, too. I do. But my husband is obsessed with it, and we currently have to drive nearly an hour to get to the only place in the greater Tampa Bay area weíve been able to find. Now however, CJ Foods has come out with its Bibigo line of Korean foods available in Target stores around the country, and also a frozen savory pastry product shoppers can find at Costco. The company recently sent me a selection of their grocery store line to review.
Products Tested: Their packaged, pre-cooked rice, a soy sauce, Bibigoís Korean hot pepper paste and two jars of bulgogi sauce.
First Impressions: While I might not normally purchase the premade rice for home use, it is something I would consider on the road when staying at campgrounds or vacation rentals with kitchen facilities. To tell you the truth though, I really did not feel much like cooking on the night the products arrived, so it was a little bit like a Christmas miracle to have two individual packages of the rice available. Since Iíd been wanting to try a vegan bulgogi for a while, all I needed to do was crumble a package of tempeh in the frying pan, add the bulgogi sauce and chop a few scallions to serve on top of each serving. Really, it was a total snap. The pepper paste was nice to have on the side to add a bit of kick, and of course a bit of soy sauce never hurt any Asian dish, as far as Iím concerned.
Final Verdict: I canít say Iím an expert on every brand of pre-made bulgogi sauce on the market, but I can say that the Bibigo tastes closer to our restaurant fave than the other ones Iíve brought home from time to time (when I can even find them). Also, I think itís a nice step to finally have a few more Korean items in the grocery aisle along with the other ethnic foods. Itís certainly been a long time coming.
Editorís Note: The company has provided a number of recipes which Iíll try to explore and post in the coming weeks so those interested in more than basic bulgogi can explore other options, particularly with the hot pepper paste.