|Chili with fried sweet and regular potatoes gets its multilayered heat from cayenne, chipotle and ancho peppers. |
(Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
The only thing remotely complicated about high-profile chef Raymon Kim’s new restaurant is its name.
Christened “Sehrimnir; Days in Midgard,” the eatery opened its doors early last month near Seoul’s Garosu-gil, about two blocks away from the main street and on the fourth floor of a rather tall and narrow building.
Those who make the effort to walk up the long flight of stairs to the small, 28-seat space will discover that the restaurant’s lengthy name is a potentially misleading introduction to a straightforward and hearty repertoire of rib-sticking, primarily pork-based dishes.
Why the name?
Chef Kim explained he referenced Norse mythology.
In Norse mythology, an immortal boar called Sehrimnir appears as food for the deities, getting slaughtered and served up as a daily feast only to be resurrected again for the next meal.
The name Sehrimnir sends a nod to the pork-centric tack of Kim’s first solo endeavor.
After years spent working as an executive and head chef at various restaurants and starring in TV food shows, Kim ― now a celebrity in his own right ― has struck out on his own to start what he hopes will become one of several restaurants that all share the same “Midgard” concept.
“I want to open five Midgards, one every year, within five years,” the 38-year-old owner-chef said, elaborating that each spot would focus on a different star ingredient.
Midgard, in contrast to deity-populated Asgard (where Thor comes from), is where humans reside in Norse mythology.
“I am not talented enough to cook for the gods,” Kim joked. “I want to give folks a comfortable dining experience.”
Fellow Sehrimnir chef Sonny Kim, who stands to take over the new porcine restaurant in five years time, is on the same page as Raymon Kim.
“The goal is to make food that is very approachable,” said the 30-year-old chef.
Approachable is a word that does not do justice to the food at Sehrimnir.
Raymon and Sonny Kim do a gourmet send-up of hefty grub that comes out elegantly plated, but tastes best when mercilessly deconstructed, one delicious mouthful at a time.
|“Dark Beer Baked Pig Leg Midgard Style with Danish Red Wine Cabbage” arrives meltingly tender on the inside, crisp on the outside and crowned with a flaming sprig of rosemary. |
(Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
For instance, it would be a serious shame if one did not unabashedly massacre Sehrimnir’s “Dark Beer Baked Pig Leg Midgard Style with Danish Red Wine Cabbage” when it arrives tableside with a flaming sprig of rosemary on top.
A meaty hunk of pork that has been left to soak in a dark beer-based marinade for two days, the Midgard-style pig leg is slow-cooked in its marinade to melting tenderness before it goes into the oven.
“We continually spray the pork with cold beer while it is baking to ensure it comes out crisp on the outside,” said Sonny Kim.
Each soft, juicy bite of fragrant pork, coupled with all those luscious, jelly-like bits of fat and crisp skin, pairs wonderfully with the housemade sour-sweet cabbage that accompanies the dish.
Another dish that looks set to become a steady crowd pleaser is the chili, which gets its multilayered fire from a trio of cayenne, chipotle and ancho peppers.
Sharp old cheddar adds a nose-tingling pungency to the bean and pork stew, while extra-dark chocolate gives it a depth and thickness that completes the dish.
A topping of twice-fried sweet and regular potatoes takes the chili to the next level, with each crisp-fleshed, starch-centered cube acting as a filling foil to the heat of the stew itself.
By now one can guess that Sehrimnir’s chefs definitely know how to layer ingredients to achieve the right combination of textures and flavors ― a skill that also shines through in the restaurant’s taco casserole.
Raymon Kim’s penchant for eating smashed nachos spawned his breakfast-friendly take on the dish, served for brunch or lunch.
“I like to crush nachos and eat them with a spoon,” Kim explained how those salsa and cheese covered chips inspired him to put a taco casserole on the menu.
The actual dish tastes more like a cross between a breakfast burrito and Spanish omelet than a plate of nachos, but it is nachos that form the foundation for this concoction, which is as beautifully assembled as a multilayered pie.
Smashed tortilla chips are laid down on a pan, covered with cheese, scrambled eggs, spicy housemade sausage, refried beans, more chips and cheese before being finished off with tomatoes and cilantro for a fairly stand-up meal that hints at a bright future for the restaurant.
|Celebrity chef Raymon Kim’s new restaurant, Sehrimnir; Days in Midgard, opened near Garosu-gil in Seoul early last month. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)|
Sehrimnir; Days in Midgard
-4F, 561-11 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul/
-Open Mondays through Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
-Starters and salads cost 8,000 won to 15,000 won, main dishes cost 23,000 won to 36,000 won, brunch and lunch cost 15,000 won to 19,000 won
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org)