The mission was to hit Beale st BBQ, an American style BBQ restaurant, for dinner. Executing that mission was far easier said than done, due to the oft mentioned issues with lost cab drivers, hangul, limited wifi/google maps usage, and the address system in Seoul. Beale st is located in the Hongdae University area, which is best described as a hipster hive, with alley upon alley of eating, drinking, and shopping, each place looking more fabulous than the next. I would hazard a guess that there is a hell of a lot of good food to be had in that neighborhood.
Our night began, per usual, with the cab driver dropping us in the general vicinity of the restaurant, even though we gave him a specific address penned by the front desk at the hotel, which he winced at as though we had handed him a turd. I spotted a white guy standing on a corner using his phone and hoped that he a) spoke English and b) could use his google maps to point us in the right direction. That poor bastard was French, spoke limited English, and, after he wasted a somewhat significant amount of his time helping us, he vaguely wagged his finger towards an alley, said “in there,” then bolted. It was not at all “in there” so we wandered slack-jawed through the alleys basically hoping that we would have the good fortune of simply stumbling upon it, and, that it would miraculously have a sign written English so that we would recognize when said stumbling occurred. When that didn’t prove effective, we went into a bar and reacquainted ourselves with Jim Beam black (tip of the hat to you, Jim) and tried to get a wifi connection so we could further misinterpret our own google maps.
Randi decided to use some of the international data minutes that she had purchased back home, so once the app found us, we went back outside with the hopes that it would then guide us to our destination. It did not. We returned to the previous method of staring like idiots at every sign we walked by, until we did, actually, stumble upon Beale St.
The restaurant is upstairs, above B Burger, a pretty well-known, and much written about, pub. We reached the second story and thought, momentarily, that it was closed, (que hysterical tantrum) but, it was just an illusion cast by the James Bond style sliding door with no apparent handle (you press a button mounted on the wall and it slides open). Soon we were granted access into a quiet, hip, little sanctuary, up above the neon streets. Beale St. felt a lot like San Francisco in terms of style and décor, made even more US of A by the campfire smell of the imported commercial smoker.
Our enormous (literally, I’m talking physical size) menu’s arrived
and we ordered cocktails…cocktails!! what a refreshing departure from magkeolli and beer. Not that I don’t love them both, but we were about two weeks into drinking that combo all day every day at this point. Our martini’s arrived, and just like that, all was right with the world.
We started with this wedge salad, topped in spectacular fashion by a big old hunk of smoked pork belly. I still think about that damn wedge, it was one of my favorite things we ate in Korea. The pork belly was so smoky and sweet, the portion so generous…just look at the size of it! The tangy dressing brightened it up so perfectly. I was in hog heaven. Pun intended.
Our martini glasses were suddenly empty, and we were really wanting some hearty red wine to go with our BBQ, so we asked the adorable owner (who was serving our table) for a wine list, and he revealed to us that there was a $6/glass special. What’s that you say? Yes, I will take five of those, thank you very much. It wasn’t bad wine either, full-bodied enough to accompany our meaty order. Also, the owner, a Mr. Choi, I believe, was sweet, and kind, and welcoming, and open to chat about his experiences in the United States and how he came to be in the BBQ game.
This alluring pile of pulled pork nachos showed up next, with cheese sauce on them as opposed to some stupid lattice of half melted shredded cheddar. I’m really tired of ordering nachos and getting a dry old pile of chips. Cheese sauce is the foundation of a great nacho, period.
This dish was a terribly satisfying, not too sweet heap of salty, fatty, meaty, calories.
These little cornbread madelines showed up. Adorable.
And then, the main event, the half rack of ribs, with what I remember as being one super amazing pickle on top.
I like the little touches, like the fried onions on top of the slaw. Well, if they make sense anyway, and they totally did. The ribs were wonderful, beautifully barked, nice pink smoke ring inside, still adhering to the bone (sorry, all you “fall of the bone” folks, but that’s an over cooked rib) with some give to them, the sauce a little sticky and the right amount of sweet.
The beans were a saucy blend with nice, soft hunks of smoked meat.
We really could not have been happier. I mean, we were in Seoul, for crying out loud, and we were eating some pretty legit American BBQ with the added bonus of a delicious and unbelievably reasonable red wine. Success.
2F, 363-28, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea