If you have ever traveled to South Korea, you have probably eaten at the popular Seoul-based restaurant OkDongsik, famous for its single-item menu dwaeji-gomtang served in the style of gukbap, a pork bone broth rice soup that won a Bib Gourmand award back in 2018.
Folks on this side of the world will be able to taste the delicacy for themselves as the eatery is opening a pop-up at 13 East 30th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues in the NoMad neighborhood, from November 22 through April 1, 2023.
Developed by chef Ok Dongsik, who studied culinary science at Kyunghee University in Seoul after serving in the military, the focus of the dish is the gomtang itself, which, traditionally, is a beef bone soup made by boiling various cuts of beef and ox. The gastronomic guru came up with a different version of the fare that is made by boiling the lean meat from a prized Korean variety of pork, a cross-breed of a purebred Berkshire pig from the United States and native hogs in Korea.
"The resulting consommé-like clear broth is rich yet weightless and packed with pork flavor," reads an official press release about the opening. "The other key component is the rice, which [the] chef sources from Brooklyn's Kim'C Market." The variety, which is sticky and savory, is dubbed simnihyang and it is actually imported from Korea's Rice Flowers brand exclusively for the pop-up.
The concoction is prepared using what Koreans call the toryeom method: the hot broth is repeatedly poured on top of and drained from the rice so that each grain can absorb all flavors. The whole thing is then topped with pork and chopped scallions.
But back to the 500-square-foot pop-up: open every day of the week, the eatery will only sit 10 folks at a wooden counter at once, where chef Dongsik will actually prepare the delicious bowl of fare in front of patrons.
Even the decor will be authentic, with hanji placemats—Korean papers made by layering laminated sheets of inner Mulberry bark—at every seat.
The menu will, of course, be identical to the one served at the various locations in Seoul. In addition to the $18 dwaeji-gomtang, diners will get to order kimchi mandoo for $12, a side dish of Korean dumplings filled with hose-made kimchi, braised pork and glass noodles. Also expect Korean soju and a small selection of beers on offer.
Who even needs to travel to Korea nowadays?