Bana 1924, which opened in Sinsa-dong on July 25, serves up craft beer and rib-sticking fare from its quiet, posh nook. It is the kind of watering hole for folks who want to linger over a cold glass or two in a spot that feels more like an old neighborhood haunt than an establishment smack dab in the bustling heart of Seoul.
Sporting a terrace and olive-and-beige accented interior, the new gastropub is neither casual nor formal but somewhere pleasantly in between.
Several craft beers are available on tap, including Primator Polotmavy, a semi-dark Czech lager.
As befits a brew that has amassed multiple awards, the lager delivers a nice bitter bite and rich notes of chocolate, making it a tasty, hearty addition to a tap that sports several craft beers like Ballast Point Sculpin India Pale Ale and Lost Coast Brewery’s Great White.
As for the fare, it is simple and straightforward for the most part, served up generously, and leans towards what Bana 1924 CEO Jay Song aptly refers to as “food that goes well with beer.”
Pork belly, for example, is just that, a whole, uncut hunk of protein, with a thin, crisp skin and an unapologetically meaty center, scored to make it easy for diners to dig in to with a knife and fork, and plunk a little bit of housemade, mustard-tinged applesauce on top before chasing each hefty slice down with some cold beer.
At around 350 to 400 grams per order, this is a dish that is meant to be shared, though some might rise to the challenge and scarf it down solo.
Poutine is yet another beer-friendly dish on the menu, dished out piping hot in a cast iron skillet with mozzarella instead of the usual cheese curds and with a thinner gravy sauce that pools up around the fries, a gravy that head chef Kim Ji-hoon revealed is made from stock, brown roux and beef.
Then there are those po’ boys ― one shrimp, one burger ― which send a nod to the Louisiana sandwiches of the same name without adhering fully to tradition.
For the shrimp, head chef Kim divulged that the shrimp are dunked in Sriracha-infused egg before being coated in bread crumbs and parsley.
|Bana 1924’s spicy shrimp po’ boy features shrimp that is dipped in Sriracha-infused egg before being coated in bread crumbs and parsley. (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)|
The beef version rides the line between a deconstructed meatball sub and po’ boy sandwich, featuring 150 grams of gravy-slathered, cayenne-spiked ground beef.
Nowhere near dainty, this submarine of a sandwich is really about its boatload of beef, a one bun meal that earns its merit by its sheer, unforgiving size and its well-seasoned, gravy-soaked, coarse-ground protein.
Starting this week, the sandwich will be served up with housemade pickled okra that Song reveals was sourced from a local farm.
Despite the occasional nod to cuisine from American’s Southern region, Bana 1924, the second brand of the multiple outlet-toting, Southern food-centric Shy Bana, is different from its older sibling, says Song, who first launched Shy Bana in 2006.
While Shy Bana, which has four outlets in South Korea and another on the way, specializes in what Song calls “American soul food,” there is “no set concept” for the fare at Bana 1924, giving head chef Kim free rein to experiment.
Kim, who also acts as head chef for Shy Bana, is already working on new additions, including a blue cheese burger and some variations on topped toast.
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org
● 522-17, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
● (02) 511-1924
● Open 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends
● A la carte dishes cost 9,000 won to 35,000 won, po’ boys cost 12,000 won to 13,000 won, draft beer costs 8,000 won to 9,000 won