Zagat’s Hot Dish: Our Bibimbap

August 4, 2016

Food editor Matt Kirouac highlighted Chef Stephen's Foie Gras Bibimbap this week in Zagat Chicago!

The steady evolution of Intro has been a fascinating trajectory to follow. It catapulted new career chapters for some pretty esteemed chefs, including CJ Jacobson (who just opened Ēma in River North). It also spawned one of the best new sushi spots in Chicago — Naoki, hidden away on the other side of its kitchen. Now, executive chef Stephen Gillanders is curating a revolving door of themed menus that exhibit culinary dexterity on his part. Case in point, his brand new Korean menu, outfitted with inspired dishes that are single-handedly taking Korean cuisine to a new level in Chicago.

Fresh off a trip to Korea, Gillanders put his travel experiences to new use with a Korean menu available as a four-course tasting or a la carte. For the chef, the new menu represents a way to showcase some of his favorite food and fill a void in Chicago. “Coming from Los Angeles, where Korean food is enormous, Chicago still has a lot of potential to grow... We wanted to bridge that gap,” says Gillanders. He’s doing so with an array of dishes that pay homage to classic Korean flavors while elevating and steering them in a contemporary direction. Take a fluke sashimi (pictured above) inspired by a blowfish dish he had overseas, or a steak reminiscent of Korean BBQ. But perhaps no dish exemplifies this approach more than the foie gras bibimbap.

Describing traditional bibimbap as a peasant dish designed to maximize assorted little plates with rice, Gillanders saw it as a golden opportunity to evolve a staple. “Foie gras became a no-brainer,” he says. “We’re taking a peasant dish and bringing it to the next level.” On a bed of rice goes oyster mushrooms, scallions, nori, charred asparagus, fermented chile sauce and a beautiful piece of foie. “The idea is to smash the foie gras in there, which is kind of sacrilegious for foie but it’s a lot of fun,” explains the chef. He’s even using traditional Korean dolsot bowls for the bibimbap, which are stone bowls made piping hot before getting lined with sesame oil and rice. “When you add the rice, it develops a crunchy bite because the bowl is so hot, like a paella,” Gillanders says.