If one walks by in the afternoon, between 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., one might be able to catch a glimpse of the two busy kneading, rolling and shaping the dough for their baos.
Not surprising, given the name of their restaurant literally advertises the increasingly prevalent Chinese sandwich- or dumpling-like treat as their specialty.
Yet, it is not the baos alone that make this new spot worth a try.
What gives this hard-to-find joint potential as a promising addition to the increasingly populated backstreets of Hannam-dong is its surprising combination of Asian flavors and French techniques.
|Bao 27, an Asian-French restaurant, opened in January in Hannam-dong, Seoul. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)|
Both Kim and Oh worked at French restaurants before joining culinary forces at Bao27.
“When we developed the menu, we went for Asian cuisine with a French base,” said Kim, 35.
That approach shines through in dishes like their endive salad.
“We changed this dish three times,” Oh, 28, revealed the amount of work over the course of three months -- since Bao27 opened in January -- that went into this veggie-centric salad.
Oblong cups of endive are filled with fragrant green shiso and crushed peanuts.
Oh and Kim create a filling with charred and chopped brussel sprouts, pickled shallots and dehydrated tomatoes, peanut and sesame sauce. Fish sauce adds an extra umami layer to a filling that is at once smoky, nutty and tangy sweet.
Spoon that tasty filling into curved endive leaves for a flavor-packed bite that mingles the delicate fragrance of shiso with crisp endive and a rich filling.
After the last crisp bite, that smokiness from the brussel sprouts leaves a slight trace of addictive bitterness on the tongue.
Oh, who racked up experience at the grill while working at a French restaurant before joining Bao27, demonstrates his knack for infusing his ingredients with a smoky finish in their baos as well.
|Bao27’s shrimp bao features smoky shrimp draped with sriracha mayo, cilantro and crushed peanuts in a housemade steamed bun. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)|
|Bao27’s endive salad features a filling of charred brussel sprouts with a tangy peanut and sesame sauce meant to be spooned over curved endive leaves garnished with shiso and crushed peanuts. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)|
Plump shrimp are succulent with that same smoky flavor, swaddled in housemade buns and draped with sriracha mayo, crushed peanuts and cilantro.
Oh says another popular eat is the beef steak, which is grilled and paired with a sauce crafted from a soy-based Korean pickle juice, truffle paste and dehydrated black olives.
Plans are to add more seafood dishes to their tapas-style menu, Oh said.
In the meantime, Kim and Oh will be busy behind the counter, whipping up small dishes for hungry customers eager to dig into messy baos and other eats.
729-91, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 3:30 p.m., 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sundays from noon to 3:30 p.m., closed Mondays
Baos cost 6,000 won each, small plates cost 8,000 won to 44,000 won
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org)