28 (Thu) April 2011
Dak Han Mari
at Apgujeong Wonjo Dak Han Mari
-Sinsa, Gangnam, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
w W and DJ, MtG
Apgujeong Wonjo Dak Han Mari (압구정 원조 닭한마리) is a Korean restaurant. Specializes in the chicken dish dak han mari.
Dak Han Mari (닭한마리) is a Korean dish. As the literal and unhelpful name of the dish suggests – “one (han) chicken (dak); the “mari” is a counter word for animals (akin to something like “one head of cattle” in English) – it contains a whole chicken, cut into pieces and cooked in a thick spicy broth with potatoes, carrots, rice cakes, and other items. Somewhere between baeksuk and dak tori tang.
At this restaurant, the name would seem to be less than fully literal. As I was stirring through the broth, I couldn’t find any breast meat. W and MtG immediately began to groan, anticipating the scene soon to ensue. I called over the server and asked her if “dak han mari” here actually meant that one entire chicken was in the pot. She confirmed: one entire chicken was in the pot. When I replied that one entire chicken was not in the pot, that the breasts were missing, she claimed that the breasts were in fact there. They’re not, I said. They are, she said. Where, I asked. In the broth, she said. They’re not, I said. They are, she said. At this point, I was intentionally half-shouting to make the conversation audible to the other customers. She suggested that the breasts weren’t readily visible because the chicken was so small. Even if this patently absurd explanation were true, it would then seem ridiculous that they charge 18,000 won for a dish in which the chicken is so small that the breasts are invisible to the naked eye. On my own, I would’ve walked out, but the dish as is was actually pretty good. And W, already mortified to the extremes of human tolerance, probably would’ve collapsed into a coma had I insisted that we leave.
A bit later, we ordered a noodle dish, which came topped with huge chunks of breast meat. At this point, I’m convinced that they set aside the breast meat from the one dish and use it in the other. At the register, the owner claimed that they purchase additional breast meat for the noodles – right, I’m supposed to believe that a chicken restaurant purchases the most unpopular cut of chicken (Koreans hate breast meat) for their main noodle dish, while their signature eponymous dish features a whole chicken too tiny to have breasts.
This restaurant is forever BANNED.
(For more details re food, see WHAT)
(For more details re venues, see WHERE IN KOREA)