Dressing down for authentic Korean BBQ
If you’re looking for an authentic taste of Korean barbecue in Shanghai then look no further than Bae Chansoo’s new restaurant, Botong Sikdang, on Jiujiang Road, where you will find the finest cuts paired with the tastiest side dishes.
Bae chose a very old concept when opening his new joint and focused solely on barbecue pork.
The young Korean entrepreneur is not new to the Shanghai food and beverage scene. He has opened several Korean concepts in the city, including Belloco, Professor Lee and the widely talked-about Jeju Izakaya, the most expensive Korean food in town.
At Jeju Izakaya, they use the best ingredients, best artisan soju and provide impeccable services for a well-designed seasonal menu.
“We actually enjoy the taste of street restaurants run by Korean street chefs,” he said. “In those easy-going venues, one doesn’t need to dress up, make a reservation and you can speak loud with friends. We wanted that kind of place.
“We have talented chefs with splendid techniques. But for this concept, I asked them to be ‘normal’ and ‘humble.’ That’s why we created the name Botong Sikdang (normal canteen) serving grandma-style pork barbecue, accompanied by a very old-fashioned Korean cooking method.”
The very “normal” concept soon gathered momentum after its opening, despite the novel coronavirus outbreak. The small but cozy restaurant accommodates 40 people and is smartly designed with tightly packed tables.
The popularity of the joint has seen dozens of foodies queue outside every night, as the restaurant doesn’t take reservations.
The menu is straightforward. Pork belly is priced at 68 yuan for thin slices, and 88 yuan for thick slices. Each person is required to order one portion of pork and 15 yuan is charged for an unlimited amount of banchan (side dishes).
On each table there is an aluminum foil-layered metal pan atop a portable gas canister stove, where attentive staff come to your table and grill pork to perfection.
Another restaurant highlight is the variety of sauces on offer.
“I always try to break with stereotypes. Our chefs have explored different provinces in Korea and brought back traditional and provincial sauces. For example, the oyster sauce (spicy fermented chili sauce with fresh oysters) is Tongying City’s traditional way and the pollack roe is Busan style,” he said.
The well-designed menu shows different ways to enjoy your pork so simply follow and wait for flavors to explode.
Though pork is definitely the menu’s star here, Bae also offers plates expressing a “simple, normal” concept.
Volcano cheese egg and grandma spicy tteokbokki (rice cakes) are popular orders that go well with sojus and beers.
“The grandma-style BBQ table has provided the happiest food memories for me in my lifetime. And I’m delighted to realize this uncomplicated, satisfying concept in Shanghai,” Bae said.
Remember, the restaurant doesn’t take reservations and you may have to wait outside for a little while before you’re seated inside.
Opening hours: 4:30pm-11pm (Monday-Friday); 11:30am-1:30pm, 4:30pm-11pm (weekends)
Address: 101B, 1/F, 660-686 Jiujiang Rd
Average price: 170 yuan (US$24)