Food + Soju + Good Times
March 3 in Korea is Samgyeopsal Day because 3 is pronounced “ssam”, hence “ssam-ssam”. Yes it’s just another marketing generated holiday but it’s an excuse to eat samgyeopsal (pork belly), no complaints here.
Saturday night I convinced my friends to go to 등나무집 because it was my favorite samgyeopsal place. My first time here was 2 years ago with my ex-girlfriend and I thought it was great. I came back a year later with some buddies and I thought it was good, not great. Saturday night I learned that I will not be coming back here again.
This place is famous because it is located directly across the street from the entrance to BOSS night club and because the owner used to be an opera singer. All three times I have been there, the owner would belt out some opera while someone plays the piano. How many Korean barbecue places you know that have a piano? Also, the walls are covered with framed pictures of celebrities that have visited the restaurant.
Their claim to fame is that they were the first restaurant to marinate their pork belly in wine. I’m not sure what it does to the meat but I like that it’s not pre-sliced and I can cut the meat to my desired thickness.
The above is two orders of their wine samgyeopsal for KRW 13,000 a piece. I would venture to guess that the average samgyeopsal price in Korea is around KRW 10,000 per order, so it’s definitely on the high-end. I wouldn’t have minded the price if we got better cuts = more meat, less fat. The ideal slab of pork belly should have a 2:1 meat to fat ratio. The taste? Its pork belly, it’s never going to taste bad, of course I was expecting it be great.
After we were disappointed with the pork we moved onto their wagyu beef. The beef was only KRW 23,000 per order, so I was highly suspicious of their claim to “wagyu”. And upon seeing the meat slathered in oil, I got so disappointed that I forgot to take more pictures of the beef. It was very tender but it had no flavor and it definitely was not wagyu.
And to finish off the meal we order their other famous menu item, 김치칼국수, think kimchi noodle soup. Sad to say but it was the best thing we ate all night.
This is the perfect example of a famous restaurant that is past its prime. On my previous two visits, I distinctly remember getting better tasting cuts of meat. The service that night was also bad, our waiter had no idea what he was doing or what the customer needed. And lastly, the restaurant was practically empty on a Saturday night! I guess the word is out, I wish I had gotten the memo.
Rating: 5 out of 10.
등나무집: 02-540-4344, across from BOSS night club or Sunshine Hotel