2007_08FoodNo1.JPGA Korean restaurant is not something one would expect to find on the border of Forest Hills and Rego Park. If anything the neighborhood is better known for the plethora of Central Asian kebab joints. Nor is Korean chow something you'd expect to find at an old-school spot like the #1 Coffee Shop. Years ago local legend Robbie Richter, pitmaster of Hill Country, worked the flat top one day when the grill man was out sick. Despite it's improbability, there they were, handwritten signs advertising bulgogi and bibimbap. We hastened inside out of the rain to see what #1's bibimbap was all about.

2007_08FoodBibim.JPGIt was quite the disconnect to order bibimbap, considering that most of the folks in the shoebox-sized spot were having eggs and coffee or sandwiches. The owner told us that the ancient coffee shop has been serving Korean fare for about two weeks. It was somewhat unsettling to see the Spanish short-order cook drop something in the fryer. Dear God, he can't be frying the bibimbap, can he? Our nervousness was dispelled when an older Korean woman came out from the back with the ingredients for our rice dish and proceeded to prepare it.

As you can see, the stainless steel bowl of white rice came topped with a bounty of vegetables, strips of beef and a fried egg. Adding the contents of a little container of fiery gochujang gave the whole affair a nice chili kick. It was served with three types of kimchi, including some refreshing water kimchi. All in all, it was the best bibimbap Gothamist has ever eaten in a diner.

#1 Coffee Shop, 100-12 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills, 718-544-5766