World-class chefs — playing, experimenting and creating, in a cozy room resembling a friend’s kitchen. From July 30th to August 3rd, the pop-up restaurant venture One Star House Party, with a unique philosophy of play and innovation apparent in its culinary journey, will have made its temporary mark serving the earthiest of flavors gathered from the multi-elemental terrains of Korea, bringing truly immersive dining experience to the Seoul culinary scene. And no doubt, eager diners will miss the honor of conversing with chefs like James Sharman, an alumni of the world-renown, two-Michelin- starred Noma, now head chef of the internationally nomadic pop-up brand. His passion is obvious in his walk from one DIY bamboo table to another (crafted by the chefs themselves), having his audience involved in the dishes he and his culinary team had concocted down to every inch, every layer of taste, and the origins of harvest.There’s one mark with the expertise reared from the likes of Noma and The Ledbury in London which Chef Sharman and Co. will imprint on those privileged to taste their dishes with prospects for word-of- mouth marketing among family and friends: going on excursions—that is, as a learner, with an open mind—as the chefs embarked on for a whole month, to investigate the raw flavors of Korea. Here are several highlights of the seven-course meal which Chef Sharman and his longtime partner-in- crime, Chef Joseph Lidgerwood directly marinated, chopped, and handcrafted. These innovations left diners captivated and immersed in the team’s collaborative adventure.
After scraping the rocky crevices off Jeju Island while also observing the 500-year- long tradition of female divers, or haenyeo, the One Star team kicked off the evening with just the right treasures that represent their journey: delicate and creamy sea urchin meat, balanced with the palate for thin slices of pickled radishes, and topped with sprinkles of shredded Korean seaweed, also known as gim. The presentation was no less impressive, with every pair of shelled urchins resting on porous volcanic rocks for plates, apparently mined from the shores of Jeju. Creativity on the audience’s own end through its selection of BYOB white wine couldn’t be more suitable for this course. An assortment of crunchy legumes native to Korea—most of which lack a name in the English language—that were aged in water, blended with other pulse grains, was gathered from the many ecological regions of Korea and elegantly presented next. What made the assortment an appetizing portion of the course was not just the curd with egg whites pasted underneath—perhaps taking the role as a salted savior for taste buds—but also the woody and enriching qualities so gently yet playfully executed in each bowl. Matching the variety in this course which invited the audience to interact, juicy slices of steamed pork neck freshly bought from the butchers of Majang Meat Market in Seoul, was served with zesty arrangements of juniper and kimchi- themed salts, a fusion concept of butter and doenjang, ssamjang, and a blended eggplant sauce, wrapped with braised cabbage or fresh sesame leaves. Aside from the variety of seasonings to choose from, either of traditional or experimental combinations, you can also have the pork neck without any of the flavorful enchantments presented to you. However, if curious, apply a teaspoonful of the eggplant sauce for subtle briny pleasure. Following the five-course barrage of savory entrées, sorbets with hints of ginseng picked from Eumsung- gun, Chungcheongbuk-do by Chef Lidgerwood and a six-inch- long custard with a natural frosting of rehydrated persimmons were served to offset the very last bit of craving and to showcase the team’s creative expression.
On their culinary pilgrimage, of learning and experimenting with each region’s unique offerings, One Star House Party won’t cease to inspire their boundary-less demographic of diners as their pop-up journey continues—in Beijing, Hong Kong and Cambodia. As the finale of the five-day culinary immersion, tonight’s the only chance to catch these inspiring and playful nomads in Seoul. ■Kyung Lee