By Aaron Keck

“Mixed” Emotions

By Aaron Keck Posted November 17, 2013 at 1:26 am

Shoot, I’m a day behind on NaBloWriMo! A couple shorter posts to follow, so I can catch up.

An anecdote:

Last night my friend Ted and I made plans for dinner. He wanted to go to that new Korean place in Chapel Hill, the one that specializes in bibimbap. So he gets in the car and I’m blithely driving along Franklin Street, when suddenly he looks around and says, “Um—where are you going?”

“To the new bibimbap place,” I say.

“No, no,” he replies. “I meant the other new bibimbap place.”

So congratulations, Chapel Hill. You’re never allowed to call yourself a small town ever again.

Where we ended up was “Mixed,” the new restaurant in the former Tedesco’s location at 1404 East Franklin, at the bottom of the hill near Estes Drive. (It’s actually been open since early summer, but this was our first time.) It’s been getting great reviews, and word of mouth seems to be spreading: the place was hopping on Friday night when we went in. (Word of mouth is how we ended up there too: Ted had heard about Mixed from a coworker.)

Bibimbap, by the way, is a standard Korean dish: a mixture of rice, meat, vegetables and sauce served together in a hot stone bowl and topped (if you want) with a fried egg. You mix it all together before you eat—hence the name of the restaurant. (The word “bibimbap” means “mixed rice.”)

I’m still a Korean-food newbie, incidentally: counting last night, I’ve maybe had Korean five or six times in my life. So I can tell you: if you too are a Korean-food newbie, Mixed is a great place to start. At Mixed they let you build your bibimbap from scratch—you go through a line and pick out all your ingredients, so you can tailor it to your own personal taste.

As Ted described it: “It’s basically like a Qdoba for bibimbap.”

(I think they’re going for a little more upscale, but that’s still pretty accurate.)

And the inside looks great: spacious, open, well-lit and inviting—and for the uninitiated, a nice description of bibimbap in giant letters on the wall. The line was long but moved pretty quickly.

I went with bulgogi—that’s Korean beef, always a safe bet—with mixed-grain rice, miso sauce, five different vegetables (you select from a list of 15), and a big hell yeah to the fried egg. (Ted went with chili sauce: he likes it spicy, I don’t.) Depending on your meat selection, the cost ranges from $8.00-8.75. It’s a two-dollar upcharge for the hot stone bowl, but that’s worth it. I think they charged me 50 cents for the egg; it doesn’t add too much—you can take it or leave it—but you might as well get it for the full experience. It was very good. (And huge: for ten bucks you get about enough for two meals.)

We also ordered dumplings, which come stuffed with ground beef, shrimp, or kimchi. Don’t think I’d get them again, though: they were fine, but the bibimbap was much better.

As we were wrapping up, Ted ran into the same coworker who’d recommended Mixed to him in the first place. She and her date were going with dessert, so we had to stick around to see how that turned out. Dessert at Mixed comes in the form of “bingsoo,” sweet shaved ice with a variety of toppings. (Again, your choice, but the traditional topping—and also the best—is “pat,” or sweet red bean.)

At Mixed, bingsoo comes in small, medium, or large. Ted’s friend ordered a “medium” ($6.75, with five toppings) and got an enormous bowl the size of a flower pot. Seriously, y’all, I cannot overstate the size of this thing. I do not know what a “large” would entail, but I imagine you’d have to pick it up outside. (It was quite good, though. It all got eaten.)

So, conclusion? Great experience, great atmosphere, friendly service, generous portions, excellent food, decent prices. I highly recommend Mixed; it’s a great addition to the Chapel Hill dining scene. (That location has cycled a few restaurants in and out, so here’s hoping Mixed is able to stick around.)

Now. Off to try that second bibimbap place. (Ted says it’s even better.)

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