03 May 2004


I haven't been excited in a while. That all ended last evening. On a cold and rainy evening, we headed out looking for dinner and, although we pass this place hundreds of time, we've never ventured inside. Last night Mr. Stomach urged me to give it a try ..... finally.

So in we went into Wonhalmoney Bossam (원할머니보쌈), a chain which is a pretty familiar sight everywhere. Who could ignore that bright yellow sign of Grandma (that's halmoni - 할머니) whom the chain is named after.

The inside is typical. I was pretty excited as I've never had bossam before. Looking at the menu, it's a pretty straightforward affair. You have a choice of :

(a) Kimchi Bossam (김치보쌈), which is boiled pork served with bossam kimchi (KRW19,000 - KRW27,000 - KRW35,000 for small - medium - large portions respectively);

(b) Baechu Bossam (배추보쌈), which is boiled pork hocks in bossam spices and served with baechu kimchi, salted cabbage leaves and fresh vegetables (same pricing as kimchi bossam);

(c) Modum Bossam (모둠보쌈), which is the combo mix platter of the two (KRW29,000); and

(d) Herbal Jokbal (한방왕족발), which is pork hocks boiled in herbs (KRW18,000 - KRW20,000 - KRW22,000 respectively).

Ordered the modum bossam thinking it would be a good sampler for first timers. Here's the modum bossam platter - well arranged and nicely presented.

Clockwise, the boiled pork slices of varying cuts, the bossam kimchi, fresh leaves of sesame and lettuce for wrapping, the baechu kimchi, crispy cold chinese cabbage leaves and a salad mix in the centre.

The standard side dishes are all there - samchang, sliced green chilies, raw garlic slices and a preserved shrimp condiment.

I'll spare you my pretend-know-all crap and just point you to their website here. There's a pretty good write-up in English, and it will be more factually accurate than my usual BS. So do check it out if you want more info about bossam, its history and even how to eat it.

For those who are too lazy to click, here's what you'll find on the site:

Bossam is an exquisite dish served with bossam-kimchi and high-quality pork boiled with special sauce. Bossam-Kimchi (Rolled Kimchi) is not your everyday kimchi, but a luxurious festive dish even for Koreans. It requires a very wide variety of ingredients and labor-intensive cooking process. Traditional bossam-kimchi greens are spiced with salted fish and shellfish such as oysters and octopus. Fruits such as Korean pear and chestnuts are added. The whole mixture is garnished with chopped chestnuts, jujubes and red pepper threads and wrapped in softened outer cabbage leaves.

Wonhalmoney-Bossam's bossam-kimchi is famous for its peculiar taste. Bossam kimchi of Wonhalmoney Bossam has its own cooking secret which has never been revealed for over 30 years. Distinguishing feature of normal kimchi is fermented food. However, bossam kimchi of Wonhalmoney-Bossam is not fermented to make it flavory.

True to form, the bossam kimchi is like none I've ever tasted. This cold kimchi is sweetish, the chinese cabbage crunchy with just the right amount of mild spiciness that compliments the steaming hot pork so nicely. Dig into the bossam-kimchi and you'll find its promised treasures - chestnuts, pears, jujubes etc.

It's a good cut of pork with just the right amount of fat in it to retain its moisture and tenderness. It doesn't taste overly porky, which was one of my initial concerns. Grab a portion of everything, wrap it up in any of the leafy vege and stuff it in your mouth all in one go. Wohooo!!

I've found a new love.

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