Can we just take a moment to celebrate how far Argentina’s culinary world has come in the last few years? Back in my day (yep, I hope you read that in a crotchety old granny voice), we had to settle for room-temperature empanadas de jamón y queso, orange juice that had gotten its start from a neon powder, and “creative” salads that included spotty arugula and suspicious-looking queso crema. Strides have been made, people! Sure, some trends tend to take on a life of their own and drive us mad – craft beer joints, I’m looking at you – but the reality is, the local palate has made leaps and bounds, incorporating more diverse flavors that finally include cuisine from around the globe.
We’re living the era of the “week” – that is, Buenos Aires Food Week, Japanese Food Week, MESA de Estación, etc. – which is the perfect format for introducing a certain theme or country’s cooking to new audiences. This time around, it’s Korea’s turn: Gastro Corea Food Week will take place from October 11th through the 18th across Buenos Aires. Twenty restaurants around the city have put together special menus at #macrisis-friendly prices, meaning you have no excuse not to take part.
Up until recently, only the most die-hard of kimchi fans have sought out Korean food in BA. Unlike its chino counterpart, the barrio coreano is located in a less-than-central area, shrouded in a bit of mystery (“Don’t go walking around alone after dark!”, “Restaurants aren’t marked by signs; you’ll only get in if you’re with a Korean!”) that has kept fair-weather foodies on the fringe for the most part. However, a new generation of young cooks are breathing new life into the scene. From hip gastropubs to sleek fusion joints to Palermo pop-ups, Korean food has never been this available – or delicious.
Read on for a roundup of our picks for where to eat, and remember, if you have any leftovers, please send them to my house. Also, you can check out the complete rundown about Gastro Corea Food Week at their website and on Instagram or Facebook.
Una Canción Coreana 향가
Una Canción Coreana is hailed as one of the more successful “crossover” Korean restaurants in Buenos Aires, maintaining its traditional style and location while offering a more open and friendly attitude to outsiders and tourists. It’s definitely not a best kept secret any longer: since 2016 the restaurant has been awarded with Trip Advisor’s coveted Certificate of Excellence. If you still haven’t been, consider Gastro Corea Food Week the perfect excuse to see what the fuss is all about.
The menu on offer includes one gun mandu (fried dumpling) and ojingo thiguim (fried squid); three different banchan (side dishes) – kimchi, qaktugui among them; rice; your choice of a main dish – cheyuk bokum (marinated pork loin stir-fried with kimchi and red chili pepper paste), ojingo cheyuk bokum (same as the first one, but with squid thrown into the mix), or bulgogi (stir-fried marinated beef). You’ll also get to choose a drink of your preference to wash it all down. The price? Just AR $600.
Sandra Lee 이 산드라
Hansik is the term used when referring to traditional Korean cuisine, and despite any associations you might make with that wacky Food Network “star” chef (or Dr. Pimple Popper, depending on your cultural totems), Sandra Lee provides the perfect entryway into the world of Korean comfort food. For Gastro Corea Food Week, the restaurant has prepared three different menu options for you to try at either lunch or dinnertime.
The first menu is available at lunchtime only, and for AR $450 you’ll get kongnamul bap (rice bowl with bean sprouts, kimchi, and pork belly) served with a magical sauce known as yangnyeomjang. The promo also includes cucumber kimchi and doenjang-guk, a soup of fermented soybean paste. The second menu, planned with two people in mind, costs AR $1,700 and is available only at dinner. It’s been labelled as a “soft” introduction to Hansik, and includes bulgogi, japchae, jeon, grilled fish, white kimchi and classic baechu kimchi; you’ll also get some bap, banchan, and doenjang guk – and a nice refreshing iced tea to help digest it all, as well as another non-alcoholic beverage or a glass of wine.
The third menu option – also for dinner only, for the same price of AR $1,700 for two – is a more advanced peek into Hansik cuisine. You’ll nosh on o-sam bokkum (spicy stir-fried squid and pork), nokdu bindaetteok (savory mung bean pancakes), miyeok muchim (seaweed salad), saengseon jorim (braised fish), two kinds of kimchi, and of course bap, banchan, and doenjang guk. Basically, it sounds like the greatest meal of your life that you didn’t even know existed, right?
Sandra Lee | Helguera 720, Flores | From 10/14 through 10/18, 12-4 PM and 7-11 PM | WhatsApp: 11 6965 7877 | Instagram
Na Num 나눔
It’s no secret that we have a total crush on Lis Ra, the mastermind behind Na Num. A young upstart who happens to be as gorgeous as she is culinarily inclined, Lis opened her pop-up Na Num within Palermo’s OPIO earlier this year. A reinterpretation of Korean food, felt through the eyes and tastebuds of the daughter of immigrants, it’s the perfect mashup between traditional and modern, never compromising on quality or flavor.
- Read More: 3 Can’t-Miss Foodie Pop-Ups Led by Women
Lis developed two menus for Gastro Corea Food Week, both of which are envisioned to be shared by two people. The first option is for a special brunch – available only on Sunday, October 13th at either 12PM or 2:30PM – and costs just AR $1,400. You and your lucky eating buddy will eat pork and shrimp mandu with a hot and sour coconut broth; there’s also a warm kale salad with braised beans, miyeok, shiitake mushrooms, and mango; you’ll continue on with a mini kimbap of morcilla, apple, and cilantro; next up are grilled kimchi bruschetta with ricotta, mushrooms, and egg. For dessert? Fresh fruit with lychee and lime cream, toasted merengue, and fried quinoa. Wash it all down with an Aperol Spritz and consider yourself #blessed.
If you can’t get enough, book a spot for the dinner menu as well – meant for two people and with a price tag of AR $1,800. Chow down on a fried veggie mandu with tamarind sauce, then move onto grilled kimchi with cauliflower purée and crispy panko; then treat yourself to pork belly with turnip kimchi and green apple purée, in addition to lettuce wraps with rice and ssamjang (bomb-ass sauce). If you aren’t full yet, enjoy the seaweed and shiitake soup with tofu, mung beans, and gochugaru (spicy red pepper). For dessert, spicy-sweet brownie with gochujang and cream. As for bevvies, you’ll get some soju and two non-alcoholic drinks of your choice.
Na Num | Honduras 4413, Palermo | Sunday 10/13 at 12 PM or 2:30 PM / Monday 10/14 & Tuesday 10/15 from 8-11 PM | Tel: 2173 5031 | Instagram
The Kunjip 더큰집
The Kunjip is the place to go if you’re undecided, or just really, really like having options. Also, Korean BBQ is the bomb.com so you *know* we had to include at least one restaurant of its kind on our list. It’s because we love you. You’ll have your pick of four (!) menus that have been put together just for the occasion, so please don’t complain about a lack of variety. Menu No. 1 costs AR $1,500 for two people and includes rib-eye steak, pork belly, bulgogi, and jeyuk (spicy marinated pork) – as well as the requisite banchan side dishes, rice, kimchi, and soup. You’ll be in charge of the grill, preparing the meat at your own table, so please don’t be an idiot and burn yourself.
Menu No. 2 is available only at lunchtime for the budget-friendly price of AR $530 and includes squid marinated in spicy gochujang paste, bap, kimchi, four different banchan, and soup – and a drink! Your sad desk almuerzo has never looked sadder in comparison. Moving on to Menu No. 3, the “bulgogi combo” costs AR $430 and includes – you guessed it – bulgogi (either beef or pork), bap, kimchi, four different banchan, soup, and a non-alcoholic beverage. Is your stomach rumbling yet?
Finally, Menu No. 4 – meant for two people and with the low price tag of AR $530 – is a bibimbap combo. You’ll be served loads of different kinds of vegetables alongside a bowl of rice, to mix with gochujang, kimchi, four different banchan, soup and …. yes, a non-alcoholic beverage. Remember, variety is the spice of life.
The Kunjip | Felipe Vallese 3209, Flores | Monday-Friday 5PM-Midnight; Saturday & Sunday 12-4PM and 5PM-Midnight – last entry at 10:30PM | Tel: 4612 1385 / 11 5717 7252 / 11 6010 6852 | Instagram
Zuti is the hot new Korean fusion kid on the block. Also located in Palermo, the locale appeals to the younger, hipper crowd that talks a big game but is also maybe kind of scared to go to Flores? They’ll tell you it’s because they don’t want to spend money on an Uber, but you know the real truth. Anyway, this is a brand-spanking-new restaurant and you’ll definitely want to be one of the first to check it out.
The menu options both cost AR $750 and are equally as tantalizing so you might have to flip a coin if you’re having a tough time deciding. First up is a kimchi bokkeumbap, folllowed by a bulgogi-tteok-bokki mash-up: spicy marinated pork and beef stir-fried to perfection, served with rice and four different banchan. For dessert, discover the wonders of hotteok, Korean pancakes with different sweet fillings that sound like the greatest invention ever. You’ll also have your choice of non-alcoholic beverage to ensure you stay hydrated.
Menu No. 2 includes the aforementioned kimchi bokkeumbap as well as japchae – stir-fried glass noodles served with bulgogi, vegetables, and banchan. Dessert is the same delightful hotteok – seriously, why hasn’t anyone encouraged me to try these before? – and a non-alcoholic beverage.
Kyopo was one of the first eateries to bring the hipster fusion fun to Floresta (rather than the other way around). Its “streetfood” menu – the first of two options – costs AR $690 and includes tteok (fried rice cakes) with hot sauce, seeds, and green onion, as well as the Kyopo burger – marinated bulgogi, cheese, spicy mayo, kimchi slaw; on the side you’ll get kimchi fries, with pulled pork, kimchi, cilantro mayo, Sriracha, onion and more. Wash it down with a non-alcoholic bev as well as a beer or glass of wine.
The second menu takes a “fusion” focus and costs AR $890. You’ll get yukhoe – beef marinated with kimchi, similar to a tartare – with perilla leaf, cured egg yolk, and pear – followed by the Kyopo bowl, a sort of bibimbap fusion that adds mango, avocado, carrot chutney and a peanut-coconut sauce into the mix. As for drinks, you’ll have a choice of a non-alcoholic beverage as well as a bottle of wine for every two people. File under: YENDOOOOOO.
Kyopo | Dr. Juan Felipe Aranguren 3053, Floresta | Friday 10/11 & Saturday 10/12 from 11:30 AM – 3 PM and 7 – 11 PM; Monday 10/14 & Tuesday 10/15 from 11:30 AM – 3 PM; Wednesday 10/16 & Thursday 10/17 from 11:30 AM – 3 PM and 7 – 10 PM; Friday 10/18 from 11:30 AM – 3 PM and 7 – 11 PM | Tel: 4637 3465 | Instagram