A Perfect Steak Set Date: Byeol Jin’s in Hongdae
Now that the baby is 6 months old we are making a concerted effort to get out and about and drag her along with us. Luckily, she’s an easy going little thing and just watches as the world goes alongside her stroller. My husband gets slightly flummoxed and feels bad for others when she decides to test her lungs and by that I mean, almost every time we are in a place with music playing, she likes to yell out. “It’s what babies do,” I say and considering she’s a musician’s daughter, what can he expect? But, he looks around to see how people in our vicinity are reacting. Other than wanting to sing along with the songs playing, she usually sits nicely munching on her rice or apple snacks and so we’ve been testing the getting-out-and-about waters.
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Yesterday, we headed into Hongdae to enjoy a meal prepared by a French trained chef.
I should say the restaurant is owned by a friend of my husband’s but if it wasn’t good, I wouldn’t write about it at all, so you can trust me when I say it was good. Oftentimes my husband’s friends will tell me that such and such a restaurant has delicious western food and I’ll head there to find that they really have no idea what is good or not when it comes to western food and yet I still listen to them. I’m always hoping they’ll start to catch on and always hoping that one day they’ll be correct.
Heading to this restaurant, I had that in mind but was surprised to find steak cooked to medium-rare perfection, sauces to die for and more. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
The restaurant is a small space with maximum occupancy of probably around twenty-five. Decorated simply with a few shelves on the walls lined with knick-knacks, wood and iron tables and chairs make a rustic impact against the bright yellow wall in the back. The main menu gives visitors just two options: the flank steak set for W18,500 or the pork roulade set for W17,500 (more options for dinner and lunch have been added since this review). Each set consists of five courses. The first course is a simple appetizer. With the steak came a chicken with mushroom puree dish and with the pork came a salmon in a citrus glaze. Both were followed by a simple salad and then a dish of rice topped with a dollop of a special cream sauce prepared by the chef and topped with roe. Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the rice dish with the special cream sauce that we were told was a mixture of a variety of sauces. Secret sauces you say?
Like I said before, the flank steak that came out was cooked perfectly. I’m often annoyed in Korea when the waiter doesn’t even ask how I would like my steak cooked and then when I pointedly say that I want it medium-rare, it’s served to me well-done anyway. Yesterday, he didn’t ask, but I said how I’d like it cooked and in response, he said, “oh yes, it’s always medium-rare” and in fact it came out perfectly medium-rare. The pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon was also juicy and delicious. It’s difficult to go wrong with anything wrapped in bacon in my opinion.
The desert was a simplistic helping of a variety of foods from a cranberry and almond to a tomato with sweet cream. Having since visited on a few more special occasions, the desserts change on the chef’s whims but luckily my favorite rice bowl has stayed the same. Though there are only two main set menus, there is also a “Side Dishes” menu, but the dishes on the menu aren’t necessarily sides. This menu just has foods that aren’t served in a set, but are available in just the main dish version. Options include a smoked salmon, a handmade grilled burger, a cheese plate, a sausage plate, tomato ricotta cheese salad, a mini steak plate and two “beaver” sets that are up to the chef. The owner’s nickname is beaver, so that’s where that comes from. These “side dishes” range in price from W8,000 to W27,500 and are made to cater to the drinking groups that stop by. There are a variety of drinks available with bottles of wine around the W20,000 range and beers and sodas, too.
I would definitely recommend this restaurant for a little date afternoon or night out enjoyment and they were also perfectly fine with us wheeling our stroller in and eating with the baby and not just because we’re friends.
There was another couple with a toddler that stopped in too. If you don’t want to sit with the baby/toddler couples, head there in the evening when the babes head to bed and it’ll be a much more romantic establishment I’m sure.
I found the food honestly delightful and a nice chic option in the quite student friendly neighborhood of Hongdae where most joints are catering to the rowdy late night drinkers. The meals were filling and had a bit of everything to hit the spot. Going with my husband was also fabulous because we got to see what both of the options were like.
Byeol Jins (별진s)
서울 마포구 상수동 310-11 와우산로 39-21
39-21 Wausan-ro 310-11 Sangsu-dong Mapo-gu
Directions: out of Sangsu station, exit 1, walk straight and turn right at the first alley, follow it around the curve to the right and Byul-jin’s will come up on the right.
Hours: ~12:00pm – ~12:00am