Hidden behind a small window right off South Hotel street, is this savory small business that is beginning to take flight in Honolulu by serving up a well known Korean dish but doing so in an epic way! Plan on stopping by TOPPED to sink your taste bud into a "Bibimbap" worth writing home about!
Bibimbap (bee-bim-bap) is a Korean mixed rice dish. It's served with rice on the bottom and topped by vegetables, a protein, and an egg. At TOPPED in Chinatown, their claim to fame is perfecting this particular dish.
As an award winning restaurant, you can imagine that the food must be good. But one thing that caught my attention was the ambiance of their restaurant. When I visit a small business, I pay close attention to the details. Not so much that I'm rubbing a white glove on the edges of windows, but more-so to see if the business gave thought to what would keep customers engaged and happy! TOPPED really hit it out of the park!
The interior of the restaurant was clean and tasteful. The lighting was just right as to take selfies and food pics.
On the door before coming in, you get a dose of full disclosure to answer most questions that may enter your mind prior to being seated.
I wasn't expecting outdoor seating but this truly sold me on the ambiance of the restaurant! We were sat on the lanai in this beautiful environment and I had to take a minute to let it all sink in. You go from the streets of Chinatown to this oasis...it was just surprisingly superb!
This was my first adventure to TOPPED and I brought a few friends who have never eaten Korean Bibimbap before! At first, I was a bit worried as I didn't know how to describe the food and how to eat it... but that was conveniently addressed when the menus were place in front of us! (PERFECT!)
Now, it's time to eat! We ordered Mandoo, Tofu with Kim Chi, and Bibimbap (of course). Before our apps came out, a few tasting dishes were delivered to our table along with miso soup to get us started (the kim chi was insanely good). There was so many colors on our plates and the smell of the food just made you salivate as each plate was delivered! The main dishes all came out at the same time so not one person was sitting and waiting for others to receive their meals.
(Tofu KimChi - House made stir-fried tofu w/ steamed tofu)
(Mandoo - Korean dumplings stuffed w/ pork and kimchi)
(Bibimbap - Signature shoyu marinated boneless short-ribs, egg, zucchini, carrot, shiitake, beansprouts, cabbage, nori, sesame oil)
Overall, I must confess that I was extremely impressed with not only the delicious food but with the service and the environment. When we were first seated outside, I kept thinking.. "this is beautiful... until it rains". Sure enough, sprinkles started falling from the sky. I started to look around thinking they were going to come outside and transfer us to an indoor seating. That's when I looked above and saw them opening up a roof to cover everyone! BRILLIANT!
No one had to move and we all enjoyed our meals without complaint! It's thinking outside of the box that makes a small business leave an impact on customers and keeps them referring business along with returning again.
I was quite satisfied with my experience at TOPPED and encourage you to visit them for yourself!
66 North Hotel St.
Honolulu, Hi 96817
Tel: (808) 369-1991