19 January 2005

Duck Bossam & Soondubu Jiggae

Today we're having dinner at Nolboo Bossam (놀부보쌈), one of the many branches of the Nolboo chain of restaurants. There's Nolboo this and Nolboo that everywhere in Korea.

You can't miss their branding, which looks like this:

In particular, I wanted to try out their duck bossam. I haven't had duck since the last time I had duck, and I've been craving for some ever since I started craving for some.

Scoping the place out.

Panning right.

It started off with a large pot-sized bowl of jang gook, Korean bean-paste soup. If I needed to draw a comparison, this would be the Korean counterpart of the Japanese miso soup. The soup had chuncky bits of mustard leaves and chinese cabbage in a dwenjang-based soup stock (bean paste soup). Warm, salty and a nice start to the meal.

This is the main course. Smoked duck bossam (오리훈제보쌈 - ori hoonjae bossam; ori=duck, hoonjae=smoked, bossam=stuffed kimchi). KRW20,000.

The side dishes are pretty straight forward stuff - mix of corn, diced cucumber, potatoes & carrots in mayo dressing, garlic and fresh green chili slices, samjang (mix of bean paste and chili paste) and pickled cucumber.

Clockwise from 12 o'clock : green lettuce (상추 - sang chu) leaves, shredded onions (양파 - yang pa) tossed in vinegar, sugar and light dash of dried chili flakes, the smoked duck, arrowroot (칡뿌리 - chilburi) kimchi and fresh chinese cabbage (배추 - bae chu) leaves. At the centre is the honey mustard sauce.

Grab either of the cabbage or lettuce leaves, pick a bit of everything and stack them on your vege, roll/wrap it all up and stuff it into your mouth in one go. Yummy!!

The duck is deboned and the resultant fillet is then rolled, tied and smoked. The smoked meat is then sliced and slightly baked before serving. The smell of smoked meat immediately hits you as the dish makes its way to the table. Think grilled bacon and you're not far off.

The meat lacked that "ducky" flavour that I had hoped for, with the "smoky" component overpowering any "ducky" elements of the meat. The meat is best savoured on its own; adding the other condiments to your palm wrap distracts you from enjoying the full flavours of the meat.

An interesting way of taking your duck nonetheless.

This is another house speciality, the arrowroot kimchi, or referred to here as kimchi bossam (김치보쌈). Sweetish, not overly spicy despite the misleading red and offers a nice crunch to the bite.

After a quick poke test on the tummy to confirm there's still space in there for more, I ordered another of the house speciality, the soondubu jiggae (순두부 찌개) + dolsot bab (돌솥밥) set.

The photo above is the soondubu jiggae, or soft tofu spicy stew.

There's some decent-sized prawns in there, some clams and just the right amount of silky smooth soft beancurd. The stock obviously benefitted from the use of fresh prawns (as opposed to dried shrimps which is more commonly used), and coupled with the right blend of chili paste, infused the jiggae with the desired oomph. Thumbs up.

This is the dolsot bab (돌솥밥), or hot pot rice. The sight of this instantly reminded me of claypot chicken rice, a favourite with the locals in Singapore and Malaysia. Anyway, getting back to this ....

Uncovering the wooden lid reveals this. The rice is boiled in this stone bowl over an open flame, and nearing the end, is topped with some kidney beans and a small cut of sweet potato. The rice is soft, moist, and just the slightest hint of sweetness and is the perfect companion to the soondubu jiggae. The soondubu + dolsot bab set costs KRW5,500.

Hope you enjoyed my meal as much as I did.

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