14.199 Birthday Banchan

Cycle 14 – Item 199

23 (Sun) July 2023

Birthday Banchan


at Gogi Nara

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

with the Family, DJ’s friends


As previously noted, we have unused farmland at the cabin, which we loan out to neighboring farmers.  Whatever is harvested throughout the year, they give us a couple boxes/bags as a thank-you (see GAMJA PROJECT).

This time, we were just in time for the corn harvest.  No, I will not be doing OKSUSU PROJECT.


For DJ’s sweet sixteenth birthday, he invited his friends to an overnighter at the cabin.  Wanting to impress them, he asked if we could eat dinner at Gogi Nara – aware of the high prices, he offered to forego any other gifts.  With 7 growing teenage boys to feed, as well as IZ, I estimated that the bill – at 38,000 won per serving of beef, likely everyone to consume at least 2 portions – would come out close to 800,000 won.   But what the hell – he’s a good kid, works hard, and doesn’t ask for much (doesn’t need to ask because his mother anticipates his every need and serves him preemptively – I call him: “The Sahib”).   And better value than the 420,000 won at my mother’s birthday this year (see 14.047 Dimsum Hahaha) or the 727,100 won at my father’s birthday last year (see 13.127 Bone-In Strip Steak).

10 years ago, we spent an extended weekend at the cabin with DJ’s friends and their families (OMG – from nursery school!), which had included dinner at Gogi Nara (see 4.342 Modeum).  Pictures on that trip remind me of how cute my babies used to be (see 4.343 Raclette).

In the end, I was rather disappointed and embarrassed that the boys had barely touched the banchan – so much waste!

A meal at Gogi Nara comes with 15 + 2 banchan, made with vegetables sourced from the restaurant’s onsite gardens (see generally 12.200 Banchan).  While I’ve raved about the banchan on several prior occasions (see most recently 13.276 Banchan), this is the first post to show each of them individually.  The composition of the banchan change slightly with every service, depending on what vegetables are available.  In my experience, no restaurant has ever bested Gogi Nari in the quantity and quality of banchan, though one place had greater variety overall (see 2.289 Hanjeongsik).

The photos are arranged roughly in order of personal preference (perhaps next time, I’ll describe them in greater detail) (click to enlarge).

I tend to prefer the milder savory banchan, followed by the namul, then the mushy stuff.

16. Mixed greens: not exactly banchan, just raw leafy vegetables for wrapping the meat, though leftovers can be requested to be made into an exquisite bibimbap (see for example  12.258 Happy Things Happen Every Day).
17. Mugeunji: the ultimate banchan, served with rice and soup at the end of the meal (see for example 12.054 3-Year-Old Kimchi).

Upon arrival, the owner was very pleased to inform me, with a gleam in her eye, that the restaurant had a batch of ultra-primo top-grade 1++ hanwoo: a bargain, so she said, at 60,000 won per serving – “Doesn’t your dear son deserve the best on this special occasion?”  Fuck it.

Ultra-Primo Top-Grade 1++ Hanwoo: 2 servings, 300 grams, 120,000 won.
The newest thing these days in Korean BBQ is the so-called “saewoosal (shrimp cut),” a portion of the ribeye that’s curved, vaguely like a shrimp (see top right piece), which is supposedly the tenderest and tastiest piece of the entire cow.

The bill came out to 889,000 won – not as much as expected.  Totally worth it.

(See also HANSIK)


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