Your New Alternative to Chipotle
Review by Katie Robinson
In a time when Chipotle has fallen from grace, diners are on the search for a flavorful, affordable, build-your-own style dining experience. If this sounds appealing, I have some good news: Brown Rice Korean Grill has been waiting in the wings all along.
A small, casual, counter-serve-style restaurant, Brown Rice specializes in Bibimbop, a traditional Korean dish that consists of rice, meat, veggies, sauce, and is often served with an egg on top.
I ordered the Be Bowl with beef and jasmine rice. The Be Bowl is 16 oz. and comes with your choice of rice, meat, 5 toppings, and a sauce. I paid a little extra to get some added flavor: a fried egg on top and, at the suggestion of my server, an additional sauce. The money was well worth it. The two sauces I ordered, Bulgogi and Gochujang are very sweet and spicy, respectively, and when used alone can run the risk of leaving the bowl tasting a bit lackluster. Put them together, however, and that bite of chili combined with the sweet sesame-soy flavor is what dreams are made of.
For my toppings, I ordered an assortment of pickled ingredients – kimchi, pickled radishes, and the ambiguous but delightful “pickled veggies” for acidity, some sprouts for a fresh crispness, and grilled carrots. I added a freshly fried egg on top, because what’s more satisfying than sticking a fork in a fried egg and letting the yolk run out?
The dish is presented nicely: served in a nest of rice with the meat placed on top, each of the vibrantly colored vegetables placed in a neat little pile in their own area of the dish, and the egg directly in the center. The jasmine rice was soft and fluffy, the meat was tender, and not a single vegetable on the dish lacked flavor. While three types of pickled vegetables may seem redundant, each one has its own unique taste – some more abrasive (such as the kimchi), and others more sweet (such as the aforementioned “pickled veggies”), and all add their own essential acidity and satisfying crunch in a dish of otherwise tender ingredients.
Overall, the food is all prepared well, presented beautifully, and is satisfying and cheap – a typical meal there ranges between $7 and $11, a price definitely worth the quality of the meal.
One caveat: Brown Rice doesn’t give a lot of direction in terms of telling their patrons what flavors will and won’t pair well together, so someone unfamiliar with the particular style of the cuisine may choose items that don’t necessarily go together and end up with a “meh” meal. My suggestion is to get some background info on the ingredients. Knowing the food goes a long way, and for those less familiar with the cuisine, it’s always a good idea to ask a food preparer directly. They know what they’re doing and are happy to give insight, but usually only to those who seek it out.
Location: 2404 N. Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21218
Hours: Mon-Sat: 11 AM – 9 PM, Closed Sundays
Katie Robinson is a writer and food-lover originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia who considers herself to have many homes in many places. She currently resides in Baltimore.