The dearth of good Korean food options in the city is understated. Unless you're venturing into Northeast territory, Center City Philly is a barren wasteland. New Jersey/New York or bust, really.
So the GF was itching to get me to try Rice and Mix, where she's had lunch a few times with coworkers. So on a recent weekend stroll through Center City, we stopped in for lunch.
Rice and Mix has a contemporary design and there's plenty of seating for the weekday lunch crowd. Quite a few booths available for some comfortable seating as well. You place your order, receive a number, and grab a seat.
Kimchi Pork Pancake [$12]
The GF loves pajun, which is a Korean pancake. Most restaurant pajuns don't turn out as crispy as I normally like, so I didn't have high hopes. Sadly, and as expected, this wasn't as crispy as I normally like. Though a bit gluttonous, I'll admit it still had some good flavor. A decent mix of pork and kimchi helped it. But at $12, seemed like a bit of a premium for a dish that lacked texture.
Signature Dolsot Bowl & Korean Fried Chicken Combo [$16.75] & Shrimp [$3]
Carrot, radish, broccoli, red cabbage, egg, mixed greens
The GF's absolute favorite is dolsot bibimbap, which is essentially stir-fried rice in a stone bowl. The stone bowl helps to add a nice textural element to the dish, because there's a crispy layer of rice at the bottom, known as nurungji.
This was spot on in terms of texture, albeit overpriced. There was a nice mix of fresh veggies, though the shrimp were chewy/overcooked, and likely frozen. The egg was pre-scrambled a la Korean sushi style, so the lack of a gooey fried egg was disappointing.
Korean Fried Chicken
Korean Fried Chicken or KFC has been all the craze over the past 5 or so years. Popularized in NYC thanks to the likes of Bon Chon Chicken, the news that Philly would finally get an outpost came as welcome news. In the meantime, I was hopeful for Rice and Mix's version. This was a decent iteration, with huge, juicy pieces of chicken that were crisply double-fried. The spicy sauce had only a bit of heat, so don't be deterred. The accompanying sesame-vinegar slaw was nice, but I prefer Bon Chon's radishes.
Overall, I'm glad there is a Korean option in Philly that isn't completely horrid. I'd rate it average overall, though it is certainly one of the better ones that are available in Center City and I'll admit I tend to have a higher benchmark for my homeland cuisine. The fact that the prices are so high and kimchi isn't gratis is off-putting. But most of the flavors are there and it's a nice change of pace.