Wednesday, February 8, 2012

BopNGrill's Korean Dinner

“The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Chicago and Chef William Song cordially invite you to a Korean Cuisine tasting event featuring classic Korean street foods as well some never-before-tasted fusion dishes created especially for this event.   
All we ask in return are your honest opinions and for you to enjoy the food and company.”

I get a lot of invitations to eat out. One of my favorite invites is for Korean food so when I got this invitation and found I was booked, I sent my young friend Andrew who loves to cook and eat Korean food. He cooks it often when he is not at his mom’s house devouring authentic Filipino.

Here are Andrew’s animated notes from the night…
Susan from Cupcakes and Crablegs was generous enough to pass on her tickets to bopNgrill's tasting event.
Traditionally, I am not one for fusion food, as it tends to mute the flavors of either cuisine.  However, I came to really appreciate Chef Will's seamless integration of traditional Korean elements into classic American food. 

Burgers, fries, risotto, and cocktails were all given a very refreshing Korean flair; traditional Korean dishes were also treated to some unexpected American flavors as well.
Upon entering bopNgrill's new restaurant location, Kristin was there to greet me and direct me to the cocktail table. Score! There were 2 kinds to choose from, a traditional rice wine, and a cocktail mixed with a pomegranate blend and vinegar.
We sat down to three different dipping sauces, gojujang, saamjang, and a sesame soy mix. 
The first dish we were brought was a traditional duck rice cake, wrapped in bacon and interspersed with fish cake in bamboo skewers…they were fresh out of the kitchen; the crispy salty bacon played well with the soft textures of the cakes.
Next, we had a preparation of bulgogi, a garlic, soy marinated beef, sliced thinly. Traditionally you would use a sweet element like pear juice in the marinade, but this was stuffed inside horizontally cut eggroll wrappers and slathered with Velveeta. Wow.
After the bulgogi, we had a hefty crab cake. The exterior was nice and flaky, and had a drizzle of kimchi tartar on top.  This was a fine example of how a slight Korean touch really gave a traditionally American dish an unexpected Asian element.
Guess what, finished this one as well.
We had a few moments to contemplate how full we were getting, before we were brought Styrofoam clamshells with toothpicks protruding from them. I wonder what could be inside?

Aah yes, Chef Wills signature kimchi burger and fries. A perfectly done slider, with a kimchi topping and cheese. 
This blows your standard texmex bar and grill faire out of the ocean. A salvo of kimchi fries, also greased with cheese ensured we would get 3x our recommended calorie intake for the day but I didn’t care. This was a feast.
As a departure from the dishes we enjoyed, we were treated to juk ( rice porridge) but prepared as a risotto. Kimchi and an orchid flower sat atop. 

This was a very refreshing presentation of the porridge. The texture was amazing.
At this point I questioned the strength of my stomach. I sat down to a presentation of greens and homemade kimchi and wondered what this was all about?

I snacked on some mild jalapeno slices and suddenly, a huge slab of pork shoulder was placed in front of us.  The size suggested the pigs that graciously donated themselves for our high-living were upwards of 275lbs.
They were cooked slow and low, using a dry rub of salt pepper and brown sugar. Roasted heads of garlic were at the perimeter of the presentation.  Will said the shoulder was uncovered the last few moments to build an appreciable crust. 

Whatever, enough with the scientific banter, LETS EAT!