March 24, 2024

50 Best and then some day 4: the temple of Hanwooooo

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I'm spending the whole day with the Man in White T-shirt.

He wanted to grab a coffee before we headed off to lunch together. After cleaning up, I headed his way via the subway. This was when I encountered serious problems for the first time in 3 days - both in terms of inter-line transfer as well as the train not reaching my desired destination. After switching to taxi, I managed to arrive at Nudake for the second time in 3 days... albeit much later than I had wanted to be.

Since I was incredibly late and we were running out of time, I just got myself an iced long black and kinda gulped it down.

Lunch today was at Born and Bred in Majang-dong (마장동). Almost 7 years after I first experienced the magic of the best Hanwoo around, I finally had the opportunity to come back. Except I'm not dining at the original "speakeasy" upstairs from the butcher shop. This is the newer, multi-story restaurant that owner Jung Sang-won (정상원) originally described as inspired by the movie Kingsmen before the restaurant opened.

Once everyone had arrived, we moved to the private counter in the basement. I had missed a group outing here in late 2019 not long after the place first opened, but at the time I was already so busy flying around the world for work that coming in just for a weekend - in the middle of an already hectic schedule - just didn't make much sense. What followed was 3 years of effective border closures for Hong Kong, and here we are.

Chef Min Kyung Kwan was taking care of us today while his kitchen team works on their upcoming collaboration with Dave Pynt of Burnt Ends. He wants to showcase the best they have to offer, but is well-aware that everyone here has been - and will continue to - eating nonstop. He has chosen to serve us smaller portions of each item, so that we wouldn't feel like throwing up by the end of our meal from being stuffed...

One of our dining companions very generously brought a bottle of Krug to share with the Man in White T-shirt. The rest of us became beneficiaries of this generosity by default...

2000 Krug, ID 313058

Galbitang (갈비탕) - the morel was stuffed with different types of mushrooms, and we also had finger meat. Gotta say that stuffing was really tasty, as was, of course, the soup itself.

Yukhoe (육회) - made with chuck tender, and mixed with oi gochu (오이고추) peppers. This was really nice, with a little fermented sauce that wasn't quite spicy but very flavorful, and worked well with the caviar and the umami.

Bone and Brew - brewed with bone marrow and koji. I could definitely taste the flavors from fermentation. There's good acidity here, and also a little grippy on the palate. The nose was showing some bone marrow notes with that fatty richness.

We were next presented with a platter bearing big chunks of beef ham, along with Korean strawberries.

Beef ham with Korean strawberries - the ham was served in thin slices along with some vanilla oil. The strawberries provided some refreshing acidity along with fruity sweetness to go with the ham.

Chateaubriand - this was what we started with on my first visit.

This was cooked medium rare, and served with black truffle, although the truffle was fresh today and not marinated like last time. Good flavors in this beef, as one would expect.

Striploin - this comes from a young cow between 28 and 30 months old, and undergoes 2 weeks of wet aging.

Served with pickled mustard seeds, like last time. This was really marbled and fatty.

Pickled napa cabbage - we need our veg, of course.

Sea pineapple - meongge (멍게) is something I have never tried before.

This was served with three different types of seaweed, along with puffed rice, lemon juice, and doenjang (된장). The acidity of the lemon juice helped to balance the iodine, and the toasty flavors of the puffed rice were really nice.

Skirt - only the middle part under the striploin was used, and it is the muscle used by the animal to regurgitate.

Served with "mountain burdock" pickled with soy sauce and gochujang. There's still marbling here, obviously, but the texture was pretty springy and this was more flavorful.

Top blade

Tenderloin chain - this was first cooked on the edges of the grill so that it gets the lower temperature treatment.

This was very, very, very chewy with sinews.

Kumquat - cooked with Champagne vinegar.

The kumquat came stuffed with gelée made from the kumquat's juice and infused with perilla. Then it was sprayed with a perilla syrup. The skin was very soft, and this was really refreshing.

Flat iron steak - this alternated between cooking on the grill and then being cooled on the crushed ice, as the process was repeated several times.

The beef was marinated not in soy sauce, but in Suwon (수원)-style marinade using pear and leeks.

This was so, sooo tasty. Unbelievable.

Outside skirt

This was really tender, with lots of flavors here.

Celtuce stem - dried gungchae (궁채) was rehydrated.

Tri-tip tataki - served with truffle ponzu (ポン酢) made with truffle juice. The acidity from the ponzu balanced out the fat.

Next came something wrapped in paper, which was unpacked to reveal a "chain" of alternating chunks of "finger meat" from the ribs and cod. Chef Min mentioned that this is similar to the en papillote technique to keep the moisture in.

After spreading some soy bean paste on top, which kinda reminded me of Japanese chefs with saikyo miso (西京味噌) on cod, Chef Min took a torch to finish cooking the dish.

Saseul jeok (사슬적) - the dish is described as a "chain" due to the interconnection between life in the sea and life on land, with the alternating pattern resembling a chain. This was definitely a very interesting dish that I've never had before in Korean cuisine.

Jeolliptu (전립투) - next came the Korean hotpot that's cooked in a pot shaped like an ancient soldier's steel helmet.

Plate - cooked on the rim of the pot. This was nice with the kick from freshly-grated wasabi from Shizuoka (静岡) as well as the pickled wasabi leaves.

Ribeye - this was cooked in the broth along with the vegetables. Normally the jus from beef cooking on the rim would drip into the broth to add flavors.

Today, though, the broth was made with beef brisket along with with mushrooms stock and was so, so nice.

Ribeye bulgogi (불고기) - this was, of course, done Seoul-style over a copper dome with mushrooms in broth.

We are reaching the end of our meal, and this is where the rice and banchan (반찬) come out. These include: bone marrow broth, raw scallops marinated with soy sauce, herring paste, shrimp paste, and ssamjang (쌈장).

The bulgogi comes from Jeonju (전주)- style rice which has been cooked in a bone marrow broth.

Of course, I had some bulgogi wrapped in greens as ssam (쌈).

We also had pickled sea pineapple.

Gejang (게장) - I normally don't touch this stuff, but I just had a tiny bit with rice.

Galbi (갈비) - they wouldn't dream of letting us leave without having some galbi.

Of course, this had to be taken as a ssam.

Cheeseburger - Chef Min asked whether we had room for their cheeseburger, knowing that he's already given us plenty of food. But of course we wanted to try it!

We each took just a quarter of the burger, but needless to say it was really, really good - especially the well-charred bits around the edges... and those onions.

Phở bò - the finale here is always a bowl of beef phở, but the difference today is that we got just a small bowl - enough for a proper taste, but not too big that it would kill us.

This was made as a "hangover soup" with brisket, oxtail, and shank. Very happy.

Lychee bingsu - with lychee, lychee sorbet, and granita.

I can't believe we ate all that beef and then some! Truth be told, the portions were better-sized than on my first visit, and we got to try a few more interesting dishes. We all left very, very happy, and I really would have liked to have bought some of their beef to take home to Foursheets. Alas, I have a detour to make after Seoul, so carrying Hanwoo around just isn't possible...

Very, very grateful to Sang for the treat, and thankful for Chef Min and team for taking good care of us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update . We look forward to more posts


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