Cycle 14 – Item 90
5 (Wed) April 2023
Chicken Rice Bowl in Chipotle Sauce
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
with dbBOOKS staff
By Day 3 of the book fair, actually 3+1 counting set-up last Friday, we’d already grown tired of the food in the cafeteria. Being so close to Itaewon, I suggested that we order delivery – anything non-Korean.
Cafeteria food at international schools in Korea, ranked according to taste and quality, as well as overall service, based on my experiences at book fairs (and other events):
- SFS (13.139 Kimchi Fried Rice) (13.288 Lentil Tostada Bowl) (13.309 Roast Chicken with Mashed Potatoes in Gravy and Buttered Vegetables)
- YISS (13.111 Fried Chicken with Soy Sauce + Fried Rice + Salad) (14.090 Chicken Rice Bowl in Chipotle Sauce)
- CI (13.337 Veggie Sweet Potato Hamburger Steak)
- CDS (12.107 Chicken Mayo Rice)
- DC (14.048 Ramen etc)
Vertex is an American chain restaurant. Offers rice bowls (white rice, brown rice, fried rice) topped with protein (chicken, shrimp, pulled pork) and sauce (chipotle, teriyaki, black pepper, yum yum) – supposedly “American-style deopbap.” Founded 2018, currently 19 locations.
What I didn’t know at the time, and realized just now in researching for this post, it’s one of those made-for-franchising businesses. The splash page of the website offers a discount for new franchisees to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the brand. Trying to avoid such places these days, mostly Korean in character, I’m getting better at sussing them out, but I wasn’t expecting it from an American establishment, especially in Itaewon. Then again, the “American-style deopbap” – which had struck me as odd, when my staff was explaining the menu – should in retrospect have been a giveaway.
The food was meh. While the primary components of chicken + cabbage were fine, the chipotle sauce was thick and creamy, making the entire dish feel quite heavy after a few bites. The sticky texture of the short-grain Korean rice made things worse. The chili sauce provided on the side helped a bit, but just enough to get through a couple more bites. I stopped eating less than a quarter of the way in. Maybe with a different sauce, and dare I say a big serving of kimchi.
I was tempted to go upstairs to the cafeteria.
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN KOREA)