11.307 Neungi Baeksuk


7 (Sat) November 2020

Neungi Baeksuk


at Iri Garden

-Changchon, Seowon, Hoengsong, Gangwon, Republic of Korea-

with the Family

Iri Garden (이리 가든) is a Korean restaurant.  Specializes in baeksuk.  A local landmark.

I’ve been there a few times over the years but always for lunch, so it’s never been featured on GMTD.

Located a little over 4 km from the cabin, which by rural standards is practically next door.
The knives and cutting board, found outside on the side of the building on the way to the restrooms, make for an interesting photo, but I’m hoping that they’re not in actual use anymore, at least not for customer food.
Reservations are a must at lunch and dinner times, but we snuck in at 1600.
Perhaps the busiest restaurant entrance that I’ve ever seen.
The initial banchan spread, one on either side.

When I commented to the owner that the array of side dishes had become more extra extravagant since our last visit, he explained that they’d felt compelled to up their game in the face of ever-growing competition among restaurants in the area to attract golfers from nearby courses (Oak Valley is a huge one); visuals of the food, including banchan, are critical to internet reviews.

More important than optics, the banchan were excellent in quality and taste, as always, in addition to increased number of dishes.

The chicken – traditional tojong dak – is pre-cooked in a pressure cooker, then cooked further on the tabletop as a hotpot along with aromatics – check out the paper cups used for potholders!
One of the local delicacies is neungi beoseot (능이버섯), aka sarcodon, a mushroom that looks like a cross between a shiitake and a portobello but with a distinctive medicinal flavor, which makes the chicken and the broth kinda bitter.
One of the meal’s highlights is the pot-cooked rice and the resulting burnt rice at the bottom of the pot, which is simply boiled with water to make nurungji soup.
In a classic W move, she ordered the neungi baeksuk but refused to eat the neungi.

I’m not a fan of neungi but enjoyed the meal overall – for any Korean golfers who play at Oak Valley, and also happen to be a reader of the blog, please note GMTD’s wholehearted recommendation of this restaurant.

Later that night, actually early the next morning, I was still up watching CNN when the election was at last projected for Biden – and by “at last,” I don’t mean just the past few days (see 11.304 Chicken Makhani), but also the past 4 years.

(For more details re food, see WHAT)

(For more details re venue, see WHERE IN KOREA)

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