Duck pasta features from-scratch casarecce. (Bistro Anthro)
When owner-chef Yoon Areum quietly opened her gem of a restaurant in southern Seoul’s Sinsa-dong this February, she was determined to take a hands-on approach with the menu.
Everything from the pasta to the bread to the bacon served at Bistro Anthro is made from scratch.
While one might find such an undertaking to be ambitious, Yoon and the crew seem to have mastered it all.
Their take on pan de cristal, a high-hydration bread hailing from Catalonia, is airy with a textured crumb and the right amount of sturdiness to hold up against the grilled chicken, tangy pumpkin seed salsa and fresh greens that are sandwiched in between.
Bistro Anthro’s housemade chorizo is equally toothsome -- plump, smoky and luscious and served with a beautiful carrot top salad.
“We put a lot of herbs in our chorizo,” Yoon, 27, said in a video interview. “We use pork that is ground fresh daily.”
Bistro Anthro's chorizo is made in-house with pork belly, prok nect meat, smoked paprika, garlic, onions, persley, chiles and more. (Bistro Anthro)
Yoon revealed that domestic pork belly and pork neck meat are used to craft their sausage, which is a Spanish-style chorizo.
In addition to the customary smoked paprika, garlic and pork fat, Yoon also flavors her chorizo with parsley, onions, chilies, cumin and at least five more ingredients.
Not only does Yoon and her crew make sausage from scratch, their bacon is also cured in-house.
“We cure it for a week,” said Yoon. “Then we smoke it the old-fashioned way with wood chips for three hours.”
tro Anthro's fried baby potatoes are peppered with house-made bacon, fired sage and an aioli-based sauce. (Jean Oh / The Korean Herald)
Given all the hard work that goes into the bacon, one might be surprised to discover that this rich, unctuous bacon actually appears as a sidekick in a dish of crispy, fried baby potatoes.
Shards of slick bacon pepper a dish featuring starchy bite-sized potatoes, fragrant fried sage and an aioli-based sauce that has been amped up with caraway, smoked onion and tart Champagne vinegar.
In addition to bread -- including the housemade brioche for their grilled cheese sandwiches – sausage, and bacon, Yoon and team also make their own pasta.
“We use Caputo flour and egg yolks only,” Yoon explained how their take on the Sicilian pasta, casarecce, is made. “We use a whole tray of egg yolks for one batch of pasta.”
Those dainty, curled tubes of pasta are perfect for sopping up the umami duck jus that it is bathed in while the aromatic greens that top this dish act as the perfect foil to the richness of the dish.
Bistro Antrho's eggplant fries served with smoky paprika-laced hummus. (Jean Oh / The Korea Herald)
Yoon and crew also whip up a healthy-ish starter of eggplant fries with paprika-laced hummus.
“The hummus is made with seven spices including smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, pepper and sweet paprika,” said Yoon.
After studying cuisine in Korea, Yoon worked in various kitchens in Toronto for seven years.
“I first worked at a French restaurant,” said Yoon, who then went on to work at several other places before working at a prominent Spanish-style tapas restaurant for three years.
When Yoon returned to Korea, she wanted a casual fine dining spot and thought that she might as well open such a place herself.
In February Yoon opened Bistro Anthro.
“I am influenced by Spanish, by Mediterreanean flavors,” Yoon said, adding that the cuisine at Bistro Anthro, however, has “no boundaries.”
For the space, she envisioned an “open space” and achieved that vibe with a veranda-like space out front, a patio in the back and plenty of floor-length windows.
While Bistro Anthro is a dine-in spot at the moment, Yoon revealed plans to introduce takeaway, including a picnic basket in the near future.
1F, 567-25 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
(02) 6448-1887; @bistroanthro
Open 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily, closed Tuesdays
Lunch appetizers range between 8,000 won and 12,000 won, lunch main dishes range from 17,000 to 29,000 won, dinner appetizers cost 8,000 won to 21,000 won, dinner main dishes run from 29,000 won to 54,000 won, and desserts between 5,000 won and 16,000 won
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org