KAT EATS…LONG ISLAND: Ssambap Korean BBQ, Stony Brook
It all started when my best friend Aisha took me to Flushing, Queens, to a Korean BBQ joint.
The grilled meats.
I fell in love with Korean food.
Fast forward a few years later, while living in Ohio, I found an incredible Korean BBQ and sushi restaurant named Sima. (Read more about one of my adventures in Sima by clicking here.)
When I moved back to Long Island from the Midwest a little over 2 years ago now, I hadn’t been to a Korean BBQ place near me since…
Until just a few weeks ago.
Situated just minutes from Stony Brook University’s main campus in Stony Brook, Ssambap Korean BBQ is a taste of both worlds I experienced in Queens and Ohio, except on Long Island, in Suffolk County and close to my house!
Both times I have been to Ssambap were very memorable…And I am thrilled to spread the good word about this great place!
The decor takes you to another place that well, isn’t Long Island. I envision myself while here actually in the country of Korea, trying these foods in the place they originally come from…
I love restaurants that can do this; transport you to another world… A little escape from the everyday hustle and bustle. Ssambap is HUGE and has tons of tables, including ones with the grills in the middle (that I’ve seen in Queens!).
It was at Sima in Ohio that I was first introduced to popular Korean dish bibimbap; meat and veggies beautifully lined in a bowl with rice. Dolsot bibimbap takes things to the next level; adding a hot sizzling bowl to the picture, making for the crunchy rice you can scrape out and eat at the bottom of your bowl (one of my favorite parts!).
Both times I’ve come to Ssambap, I have gotten the dolsot bibimbap.
Trust me, you’ll want to make a trip there ASAP for this alone.
Not only is the dish fresh, flavorful and HEALTHY, you can also do a “make your own” bibimbap if you’d like, adding whatever you want in the hot sizzling bowl!
This second time I went to Ssambap I went at lunchtime; where for less than $20 dollars I got a ton of food at an incredible price.
The manager greeted me and took my order; gave me delicious hot green tea, and brought me over miso soup and salad with ginger dressing:
I’ve had many-a-miso-soup in the area, and friends; this one takes the cake! A great balance of flavors and a good amount of tofu floating in the bottom (some restaurants barely have the flavor profile going in the soup OR the tofu to go with it). The salad was cold, crisp and the ginger dressing tasted like it was freshly made (taking it steps above other local restaurants who serve a ginger dressing on salads).
Soon after… one of my favorite parts of a Korean BBQ meal came out, the banchan (a.k.a. the side dishes):
Now I’ll admit… I didn’t eat all of these at this sitting. I personally am not into bean sprouts (bottom right); the broccoli I wasn’t really feeling like eating lightly cooked broccoli, and the potatoes were okay. It was the top left one (kimchi) and the top right one (fish cakes) I was REALLY going for. If you haven’t had kimchi, you NEED to try it. Kimchi is a Korean side dish made from fermented vegetables, usually a cabbage…and then put in a DELICIOUSLY spicy chili sauce. The fish cakes; I actually didn’t know what they actually were until the manager happily explained them to me. I had thought it was tofu in a fish sauce when it really was a Korean side dish of fish cakes (which apparently is a dish that originates from Japan! Thanks to the manager for telling me ;). The fish cakes have cod, flour, and water and as the manager described, is essentially a “fish pasta.” I felt like I could enjoy them more knowing what they were, as it made me really think about the taste and texture of cod (which I enjoy eating). The cucumber salad was a standard cucumber salad (that was fresh and all, but reminded me of the one I get at the deli around the corner from my house!).
The main event arrives, and it’s quite the spectacle.
From the sizzle of the bowl; to that initial break of the fried egg so you get the oozy yolk in your food; oh man what a foodgasm event.
A sizzling hot stone bowl (that’s VERY HOT TO THE TOUCH, please don’t touch the bowl until it cools!), multigrain rice at the bottom sizzling up into a crunchy rice crust, all the veggies lined up like that, the bulgogi (lean beef), and THAT EGG. My goodness!
What a balance of flavors, a feeling of nirvana.
Especially when you add the chili sauce (pictured above in the little white bowl, and don’t be afraid to ask for more if you need it).
The fresh flavors of the veggies, with the crunchy multigrain rice and the tender beef…
It’s a meal everyone needs to try.
If you’re new to the Korean BBQ game, I recommend trying the lunch special first at Ssambap as it’s cheaper and you still get similar options of food compared to the dinner menu. I would recommend doing the grilled meat experience with a group of people, as it’s something you can all do together as a team.
The staff goes above and beyond to make your experience at Ssambap a great one. Both staff members who I saw at the restaurant today remembered who I was and made a point to keep checking in to see how I was doing and how my food was. Amazing customer service = memorable experience. Hands down. The food can be the most amazing food ever, but without a good staff, it isn’t the same.
A true gem in the Stony Brook University community that if you haven’t tried yet, it’s 100 billion percent worth the stop.
Ssambap Korean BBQ
2350 Nesconset Hwy, Stony Brook, NY 11790