Back Kitchen Seoul, One Night Rebel

Underground Secret Restaurants, Pop Up Kitchens, Underground Supper Clubs, whatever you want to call it, it’s very exciting. One word for you – REBEL (with Good Food!) These are home grown cooks who want to feed and entertain friends and friends-to-be in their own home or a rented space, serve food from their own hearts. These cooks don’t own a restaurant but have always wanted to, people or friends who just want to share their love and vision of their own cooking creations for one night only. However we might hear of them again when we least expect. We all live a double life and sometimes our dreams can come through – albeit sometimes secretly! But that’s the exciting part isn’t it? πŸ™‚

I’ve read so much about Underground Supper Clubs popping up all over the world, I bought the cookbooks, I’ve imagined holding my own one day, coming up with creative use of local produce, cooking techniques and making them my own, twisting and turning them the way I want to and share them with anyone who would be game for something new. As soon as I saw a new post by ZenKimchi appear on my facebook news feed, boom, I was the first one up to RSVP, no doubt about it. I had to be part of this event, being the first in Korea, being part of history – well Korean foodie history anyway.

The menu was sent to us a week before hand and the list was 5 courses. The description of the dishes were very unique and creative and I couldn’t wait to try them out. They came up with utilising local produce and infusing them with other local products that have not been tried out before – at least ones that I’ve never come across yet – but it’s early days yet for us here in Seoul. We are due to venture out for more culinary delights that await us all over Seoul and Back Kitchen Seoul is definitely one that we couldn’t miss out on.

The pop up kitchen was held in Cafe Goundry in Anguk. This little intimate cafe was tucked in amongst home grown restaurants and convenient stores, very cosy and warm, saving us from the harsh wind, cold and rain outside. The cafe was already buzzing by the time we got there with only a few spaces available. So we tucked into a corner with 4 empty seats, waiting for another 2 spots to be filled next to us. The idea of dining with strangers as well as a menu that’s already chosen for us was very alien to us but we were really looking forward to it.

The kitchen was buzzing too which was nice, rich brown stock were bubbling in big pots, something was sizzling and smelling gorgeous, cooks and kitchen helpers were shuffling in and out, drinks were being served, oh it was all so exciting but I’m sure a bit nerve wrecking for the organisers!

Joe from ZenKimchi and Sarah from Seoul in the City were the host and hostess for Back Kitchen Seoul, who explained the pop up kitchen concept to us and explained the menu and organisation of it all.

Starter: Mushroom Soup with Caramelised Kimchi and Wild Sesame (Perilla)

Β The soup was creamy and thick, with visible chunky cubed mushrooms at the bottom for something to chew on. It was such a wonderful starter to warm the cockles of the body from the cold outside.

Appetiser: Cajun Boiled Shrimps with a trio of sauces – pepper wasabi cocktail sauce (gochujang), ketnip pesto and spicy aioli

The cajun shrimps were so fresh, we were told to get down and dirty with our fingers and make sure we dunked our shrimp into the sauces. We made sure we tried all three sauces! My favourite was the Ketnip Pesto and my husband’s favourite was the Spicy Aioli. The gochujang cocktail sauce was lovely too, but was a bit spicy for us. It was so much fun!! Just like eating at home with the family! Who cares about restaurant ethics huh?! πŸ˜‰

First Main: Sujebi Gnocchi with Soju Sauce

This dish was made to share! It was presented in a massive serving plate and we all just dug in. This is real sharing! The pulled, obviously home made gnocchi was made with flour and potatoes, tossed gently in a tomato sauce infused with soju (Korean Rice Fermented Wine), cheese and topped with sliced up sesame leaves. Rustic and delicious. Just like mama use to do it! Soft, slightly chewy, salty and sweet all in one. We tucked in with more sauce on the side.

Second Main: Braised Pork Belly – Galbi Jjim style

Stewed Pork Belly is always a massive welcome at our table. That part of the pork is like a slice of heaven especially when braised and stewed right and let me tell you, this little piece was done right. The pork and fat in between just melted in our mouth, it was so tender and soft, we could have eaten it with our spoon! The sauce was salty and sweetish, the pickled onions and quail tea eggs were wonderfully done. The crack lines on the eggs were so beautiful and clearly visible and the coriander kimchi added a nice fresh touch to accompany. Uumm… can I have seconds please?

Dessert: Cheese Makkolli Tart with Candied Ginseng, Blueberries and Glaze

And the piece de resistance, dessert!! Oh yes, we all got a lovely Cheese Makkolli Tart. They were a fair size but it all went down the hatch. A sweet delicious dessert to end a lovely experience. The tart was creamy and thick with a slight hint of makkolli, crust was crunchy, crumbly and very fragrant. We couldn’t put our forks down, savouring every little piece until they magically disappeared from our very eyes! Oh what a sweet ending!

We did wonder if they offered doggy bags for any of their left overs but were too polite to ask! I think the volunteers and organisers needed some for themselves, afterall, they didn’t even eat the entire night!

Would we go again if it were to pop up again? Um… you betcha! I’ll be first on the list. Inspirational? Definitely!

And most importantly, friends that we made!