For Ach So! owner-baker Heo Sang-hoi, making authentic German bread and serving it properly is important.
The tradition of eating bread is deeply ingrained in the fabric of day-to-day life in Germany, according to Heo, who equates the role bread plays in the German diet to the role that rice plays in the Korean diet.
“Germans do not eat bread plain, just as Koreans do not eat rice without banchan (side dishes),” Heo, 45, said.
Heo’s goal, since he first started selling German bread in Korea in 2002, has been to make “real German bread” for “people who understand and like it.”
|Ach So! bread is located behind the counter so that traditional German sandwiches of belegtes Brotchen filled with meat and cheese can be assembled to order. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)|
That meant serving bread like Brotchen, a German roll, as it is customarily eaten: in the form of belegtes Brotchen, sliced in half, buttered and filled with fixings like German sausage and Gouda cheese.
It was that desire to provide the full, authentic experience that seems to have driven Heo to renovate Ach So! last year, to add more seating so customers would be able to order belegtes Brotchen and eat them on the premises.
For Heo, Brotchen, which he says is generally eaten for breakfast or lunch, was not designed to be enjoyed plain and unadorned.
Heo, who makes nine different types of Brotchen, says it is meant to be dressed up with fixings like cheese or cream cheese and enjoyed on the day of purchase.
|Ach So! sells classic German bread like volkornbrot, roggenbrot, the bretzel and up to nine varieties of Brotchen. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)|
“The lifeblood of Brotchen is its crust,” said Heo, explaining that the classic roll easily found throughout Germany is a fickle bread to master. “The key is in how it is baked. It is very temperature-sensitive and what you want is that very thin, crisp crust.”
Heo seems to have more than mastered the roll. His Brotchen boast an eggshell-like crust that gives right away to a soft center.
Coupled with creamy butter and salty Gouda cheese and thin slices of German sausage like bierschinken or jagdwurst, the Brotchen transforms into a satisfying cold sandwich.
In addition to Brotchen, Heo also makes a traditional bretzel, slightly dense and heavy and sprinkled with salt.
“Our bretzel is a classic South German bretzel,” said Heo.
If one does not want to eat it plain, Heo suggests slicing it partially in half and buttering it down the center, for a tasty butterbretzel.
Then, of course, there is his volkornbrot and roggenbrot, the rye-centric loaves prevalent throughout Germany.
These breads, says Heo, are ideal as a customary light dinner meal consisting of bread topped with a slice or two of cheese or cold cuts.
These are the staples to be found in Heo’s bakery, all bread that has a why and wherefore.
This is what Heo, a purist at heart, wanted to bring to his patrons ― a lifestyle that he dove into the moment he transitioned from architecture to baking while studying in Germany.
And that is precisely what he has succeeded in doing, first at Backerei Heo in 2002, then at Ach So! in Hannam-dong since 2005.
“My goal is to keep putting out good-quality German bread,” said Heo.
|Ach So! renovated and reopened in December 2012. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)|
- 109 Richensia, 72-1 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, (02) 794-1142
- Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, till 3 p.m. Saturdays, closed Sundays
- Bread costs 1,200 won to 8,000 won, belegtes Brotchen costs 2,800 won to 4,800 won, Brotchen lunch set costs 6,000 won
By Jean Oh (email@example.com