LIFE&STYLE

‘Collective kitchen’ GBB defies boundaries

By Korea Herald

Brunch, cooking classes and collaborative events in one space

  • Published : Sept 9, 2016 - 15:36
  • Updated : Sept 9, 2016 - 15:36
GBB Kitchen, a new grub-centric spot that opened this April in Cheongdam-dong might have more than one foodie scratching his or her head in confusion.

There are no signs, no indication it exists on the sixth floor of a building near Hakdong Intersection and the menu-less brunch, only available on Saturdays, requires a reservation.

Cooking classes are held twice a day, Tuesday through Friday, and spontaneous dining events are announced via the spot’s Instagram account.

In short, GBB, which stands for “Good Better Best,” is not a cooking school or an eatery in the traditional sense. 

“It is a playground for gourmands who love food,” said co-owner Jane Hur Lee to sum up GBB’s vague but intriguing philosophy, which is also posted on its blog.

Lee explained how she and co-founder Lee Kyung-jin brainstormed an idea for a space that would showcase a sort of lifestyle, a place where grown-ups could play, where brunch would feel like one was visiting a friend’s place.

For those who have nabbed a reservation on a Saturday to check out GBB and its brunch fare, the space really does have a homey vibe, albeit an upscale one, with marbled counters, customized stools, white-tiled walls and accents of eggshell blue, gold and warm wood. 

GBB Kitchen’s pancakes with strawberries, blueberries and homemade honey grain butter (GBB Kitchen)

Brunch itself feels like a casual affair, with Jane Lee explaining the day’s lineup of dishes in person, sans menu.

Yet underneath that veneer of spontaneity, there is an earnestness to how these two foodie friends approach the act of eating.

Jane Lee takes care in arranging plates and placemats, and serving up ceramic mugs of hot coffee, foamy on top and literally overflowing, while heaps of food arrive, with culinary school alumnus Lee Kyung-jin occasionally explaining the components of each dish. 

GBB Kitchen’s avocado toast with six-minute eggs (GBB Kitchen)

Dishes, on the whole, are satisfying both portion- and flavor-wise and have a thought-out, curated feel with spreads ranging from the increasingly ubiquitous avocado toast to a lush, decadent pile of French toast strewn with toasted coconut and topped with caramelized banana and honey grain butter made in-house.

“Her fare is not pungent, it has a subtle sweetness and nothing is too salty,” Jane Lee, 25, said of Lee Kyung-jin’s food.

At GBB it is not unusual to have a third person in the kitchen, as was the case with chef-at-large Kim Byung-ha, who was in town from Milan to teach pop-up classes and help out with brunch. 

GBB Kitchen co-founders Jane Hur Lee (left) and Lee Kyung-jin are seen in the collective space that took them a year to create. (GBB Kitchen

Kim took the time to hash out the details of the brunches that he helped prepare during his stay in Seoul.

“One whole avocado” goes onto each slab of crusty, airy sourdough, said Kim, 30, elaborating how sriracha, chili flakes, lime juice and six-minute eggs -- “so that when you slice them in half the egg yolk runs out” -- are used to complete a delicious take on the breakfast dish.

Kim divulged how “milk, eggs and honey” are used to create GBB’s French toast, which manages to fuse rich honeyed butter with crisp coconut flakes, fluffy sweet bread and nearly creamy slices of sugary banana.

Kim, who met co-owner Lee Kyung-jin while studying in the US, added how he was surprised with his friend’s take on the classic brunch dish -- despite all the sweet components in GBB’s French toast, the resulting fare was not cloying.

Those who want to try GBB Kitchen’s brunch for themselves, however, may not have long as according to Jane Lee, brunch “is a temporary pop-up” that is by “reservations-only.”

By Jean Oh (oh_jean@heraldcorp.com)


GBB Kitchen

6F, 3-10 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
(070) 7719-8800; instagram.com/gbbkitchen

Open for brunch (by reservation only) from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, for cooking classes at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. from Tuesdays through Fridays

Brunch costs 33,000 won ($30) for a chef’s choice set and around 25,000 won for a la carte dishes

Classes cost 500,000 won for five sessions and 150,000 won for one session