This new joint located in Williamsburg takes a new and exciting spin on the Korean dish: pork belly. BELLY Korean Bacon Shop opened a little over a month ago and is reframing how people eat Korean barbecue.
Typically, Koreans eat pork belly by going to a restaurant and grilling it themselves. They wrap this pork belly with lettuce, which can also include rice, kimchi, green chili peppers, and other side dishes. South Koreans are huge on side dishes. Rather than having a grill-it-yourself method like they do in South Korea, this restaurant developed the Omakase menu: a 9-course meal to fill up your belly. Yep, you read right, 9. If 9 seems intimidating, do not fret. The restaurant also allows individuals to order certain dishes from the A La Carte menu.
The first dish was a simple combination of a buttery breakfast toast top with pork belly. The combination of different textures and spices creates an explosion of flavors on your taste buds, giving you a glimpse of the rich flavors that will come.
The next dish was quite simple. Served with a sweet ball of rice and topped with a thinly sliced pork belly. Pork Belly Sushi was a clever combination of a Japanese dish with a popular Korean ingredient. We see the blend of Korean and Japanese food again in another dish: Bacon Schnitzel, which was a spin on the Japanese dish called tonkatsu. A piece of pork chop was deep fried and served with a very popular Korean sauce, red pepper paste. This red pepper paste was different from the store bought red pepper paste because it was sweetened and the level of spiciness was toned down. Thus, making this blend a whole new creation.
The Grilled Korean Bacon was a light salad with a great first impression. Right when it came to our table, the sesame oil scent was oozing from the plate. Although the smell was strong, it came with a nice zesty and fresh sauce that made the salad savory yet refreshing.
Two of my favorite dishes from the Omakase menu would be the Pasta alla Belly and the Chef’s Bacon Steak. The interesting thing about the pasta was the noodles the chef used. The dish did not come with Italian spaghetti, but the noodles felt more like Korean ramen noodles. This was definitely a creative way to incorporate another aspect of Korean cuisine in addition to the pork belly. The Chef’s Bacon Steak was another great addition to the menu because it showcased the pork belly itself. In Korean, pork belly is called Samgyeop-sal-gui (삼겹살). The “sam” means three. Once you cut into this juicy piece of pork belly, you open up its three delicious layers.
Getting close to the end of the meal with the Bacon-Eggplant Steamed Rice. Once you combine the rice and meat with the poached egg and the sauce, you are in for a treat. The steamed rice and meat may seem simple. However, once you break open the egg yolk and combine that with the rice and the housemade soy sauce it is a dish of no other.
To end the night, you are given a dessert with a one of a kind - savory whipped cream. Typically, desserts are supposed to be sweet. However, the chefs decided to continue with the savory route and kept the dessert on the same lane. The donut was crispy on the outside and sweet, but once you eat more of the donut, it is spicy and rich. Plus, with the spiced infused whipped cream on top, it really is a dish like no other.
This restaurant is located on 219 Grand Street in Brooklyn and is open from 5:30pm to 10:30pm Monday to Sunday. The wait staff is extremely nice and explains each dish with a succinct description. Another interesting thing to note about this restaurant is the Karaoke options. The restaurant can be split so that individuals can have a Karaoke session post dinner, which is another approach to incorporating the Korean culture.
Overall, this restaurant does an amazing job of reinventing the way people eat pork belly. It is astonishing the different approaches they use to blend different cuisines together. Plus, the setup of the restaurant shows you the immediate blend of different cultures.
- Vivian Chow