Bibimbap is a Korean word that means simply "mixed meal." So basically, we've got rice, some sort of Korean barbeque-esque meat, some carrot-like vegetables, a bit of seaweed or kelp or kale or something, and a mysterious egg-like substance. It's quite an authentic recreation of a visit to a real Korean BBQ house. You'll recognize one or two of the items, and the rest of the foods...well, you might have some vague notion of what they could be, but unless you're dining with a bilingual Korean person, you're pretty much flying blind. You kind of just get in the habit of sticking stuff in your mouth and hoping for the best. It's kinda fun. Until you get a bite of something nasty. But then you can always go back to the meats. Korean BBQ meats are pretty universally tasty, in my opinion.
To my delight (but probably to the dismay of many others) there was no kimchi in this meal. I'm not sure which amazes me more: the fact that people actually enjoy fermented cabbage dishes, or the fact that more than one culture on our planet came up with the same idea. "Hey guys, let's throw this yucky vegetable in a barrel, let it rot for a while, and see if something yummy comes out!" Kimchi is kinda like Korean sauerkraut. It's spicier than sauerkraut, to be sure, but just as nasty.
Thankfully, the Bibimbap Bowl does feature some Korean beef. Absolutely delicious. It has an amazing tender texture and lots of flavor. Too bad there's only a couple bites of it in the bowl. In fact, that's my biggest complaint about this dish. I really wanted to give this a very high score, but I simply can't praise it as much as I would like to because of the lack of its best constituent part.
The second best part of the bowl? The sauce. It's red, spicy, and flavorful, and to me it tastes authentically Korean. I've only had Korean BBQ a handful of times in my life, but from what I remember, the best sauces are quite similar to the stuff included in Trader Joe's Bibimbap Bowl.
The other 4 ingredients are also pretty yummy, especially when coated with the aforementioned red sauce, but they're not quite as special as the beef. They're all reminiscent of things I've had in a Korean restaurant, and not one of them is gross or too strange to be eaten. I broke out some leftover chopsticks we had from our recent visit to Pei Wei. It helped to make the experience even more Asian.
In summary, my score can't be too high because of the lack of meat in the dish, but maybe that's just my typical American overenthusiasm for beef talking. I'm sure Koreans, health-conscious as they generally are, don't eat that much beef on a regular basis, but my visits to Korean BBQ spots would tell me different. Although, those restaurants I've been to are probably just catering to their "Viva-America" clientele. Conversely, I can't score this dish too low, either, since my natural inclination is to compare this Bibimbap Bowl with entrees I've had from relatively high-class Korean restaurants and homemade dishes. It didn't even occur to me to compare this to anything I've ever had from any other grocery store. And therein lies Trader Joe's genius: many of their foods, this product included, simply transcend the offerings of other grocery stores.
Let's go with a 3.5. Sonia was also annoyed by the lack of meat, but overall, she was truly impressed as well. She gives it a 4.
Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.