19 (Thu) January 2012
-Geumgok, Bundang, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
with W and DJ
Mugeunji (묵은지) is a type of kimchi. Technically starting out as the standard napa cabbage kimchi, it’s left to continue fermenting far beyond when it would normally be eaten. No exact standard for duration, anywhere from a few months to a few years. The process intensifies the pungency while mellowing out the sharp spiciness. It’s typically used as an ingredient in certain kimchi dishes, such as kimchi jjigae, rather than eaten on its own.
Here, the restaurant pared down the mugeunji by removing the fillings and rinsing off the juices. The remaining cabbage leaves, now clean and tangy, provided a pleasing contrast to the fatty, smoky grilled eel.
I was disappointed to find that, for whatever reason, the eel didn’t seem nearly as good on this second visit to this restaurant. On my first visit a few weeks earlier, I’d raved about it. All else being equal, the eel itself may have been the problem, which wasn’t as thick and juicy as I remembered. W commented that the eel lacked eel flavor. Even DJ, who usually goes gaga for eel, wasn’t very impressed and declined to eat more than a couple perfunctory bites. I still thought it was very good, but not worthy of the prior 4.0 rating.
The restaurant employs a nifty logistical system in which the trays act as insertable/removable tabletop for quick service/cleanup.
Maybe my opinions are more capricious than I’d like to believe, even though I try to maintain objectivity and consistency where the ratings are concerned. Admittedly, I do tend to vacillate in the presence of a third party, as in my recent encounter with Lisa (see 3.007 Nokdu Bindae Jeon).
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