Buttered, grilled corn-on-the-cob, sweet potatoes, kabocha squash, cherry tomatoes and roasted baby potatoes dished out with a sour cream-based dip bring the barbecue to the table without the hassle.
A creamy omelet topped with spicy tomato sauce and a salad drizzled with yuja dressing complete the portable meal.
Lee ― who, like the establishment’s owners, has catering experience ― said that their packed fare business started to take off a few months after they opened, when boxed meal orders put in by celebrity fan clubs attracted notice.
Though they had not originally intended to focus on the pick-up-and-go aspect of their business, customers have been getting their rice plates and other options cooked up fresh and done up in a neat box with handles.
“Now I think we sell a greater ratio of take-out meals to other items,” said Lee.
While boxed lunches (called dosirak in Korean) only form a part of owner-chef Ong Soo-min’s sophisticated fusion hansik restaurant Ongkasomsi, they are highly popular.
The beautifully plated tray of goodies that sells in-house for 13,000 won and 15,000 won when ordered as take-away starts rapidly disappearing during the lunch hour.
“The set sells out everyday,” said Ong who only prepares a limited amount. “We only make enough for 32 people.”
The lunch special changes weekly, giving regulars something new to look forward to. Ong also provides special packaged meals for 25,000 won to 55,000 won.
For more bang for the buck, order the 15,000 won lunch. This week, it comes with rice topped with spicy stir-fried pork. Ong says that next week they will be serving japchae (stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables) over rice with pork sirloin.
Picnic-goers looking for a decadent spread can try the 35,000 won set. Moist and tender Korean-style hamburger steaks are laid over rice. A huge, succulent hunk of pan-fried smoked salmon accompanies the meal.
Julienned perilla leaves accent two squares of deep-fried tofu that have been crowned with stir-fried kimchi and dressed with a sauce made from balsamic vinegar and doenjang (fermented soybean paste).
Soft tofu cream sauce over a scoop of a kabocha squash-based creation, a plump shrimp salad with pine nut mustard dressing, pickled octopus and other delightful nibbles showcase Ong’s ability to create innovative and wholesome sides.
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Located in Samseong-dong, Ongkasomsi is open from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. daily.
Packaged meals cost 15,000 won to 55,000 won. For one to two people, take-out needs to be reserved one to two hours in advance. Large groups need to reserve at least a day in advance. For more information call (02) 562-3451 or visit www.ongkasomsi.com
Under the Tree, Park
Located in Sinsa-dong, Under the Tree, Park is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and is closed Sundays. Meals cost 8,000 won to 15,000 won. For more information call (02) 514-6733 or visit www.foodstyling.co.kr.
Located in Sinsa-dong, Dorothy Table is open from Mondays through Fridays from 10a.m. to 8 p.m., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and is closed Sundays. Salads cost 3,500 won, sandwiches 4,000 won to 4,200 won, onigiri 1,800 won to 2,200 won with 1,000 won extra to pack it in a box. Groups of one or two can order on the spot though ordering in advance is recommended. Large groups need to order in advance. For more information call (02) 6242-3377 or visit www.dorothy-t.com.