So when you first see the name 'Bean Table' what immediately comes to mind? To be honest, tofu wasn't it...hahaha. Good friend and Chef Wonil Lee opened the doors to his tofu haven early this May. When he first tried to explain the concept of his new place, I was like 'uh what? what was that again?' Traditional Korean served on beautiful earthenware with modern presentation...hmm. I seriously questioned this at first, because to be honest, there are tons of amazing Korean restaurants in Seoul. Lee has a background in contemporary European, but has an impressive palate for Korean cuisine. Thus, this is his true ambition.
When I dined there with friends just a few weeks ago, I got it. What he's got going on, it works. It works because each dish is thoughtfully played out beautifully. Everything from the soups, salads, banchan (small side sides), the meats, tofu, to the dessert. The appeal: all the tofu is made in house!
I honestly have nothing less to say than that it's just purely delish. I do have a tendency to slightly discriminate Korean food when its served outside of its norm. Meaning, when it's stemmed away from the tradition (because let's face it, our mom's are the best Korean cooks!), it could be kinda inventive or just terrible. When I think of modern Korean, molecular gastronomy comes to mind. And yes, this trend is at the early beginnings of making a statement in Korea. But sometimes, you just want good, simple food. What Chef Lee does with tofu is more than just inventive...he does is right.
Banchan on the tray right before serving
Love the Korean tiles with textiles used for holding silverware...
Reserving a spot for us on a post it!
The starters above: pumpkin porridge, cold dongchimi kimchi soup, & seafood salad with asian mustard dressing
I would have to say, this is one of the most clean and organized kitchens I have seen!
Ahh, my favorite makgeolli (Korean rice wine)-Neurin maeul (느린마을) from Baesangmyun Brewery
Chef Lee is a closeted makgeolli expert (Korean rice wine), and our thing to do is to go to makgeolli expos and breweries together. Yup, he got me hooked. When Lee and I used to work together, he would always sneak samples for me to try the latest creations from the Kitchen, while I had his iced Americano ready to go...we always enjoyed the banter about our dreams to open restaurants, to giving each other dating advice...hahaha. What do we know...
It's pretty cool for such a young chef with his background, aspiring to one day bottle his own makgeolli! I may have to stick around to taste test and pick his brain on the process of making makgeolli. He attributes most of his love for food to his mother, and the passion for makgeolli to his grandmother who actually has her own makgeolli recipe! Lee hopes to one day revive his grandmothers makgeolli, and bring it to the market. Just you wait...a revolution of this beloved rice wine is going to make a different wave...
One of their signatures: 두부해물전골 (similar to a seafood fricasse with tofu)
The Sik-sa or the final course before dessert...where you get the banchan spread, rice, along with soups. They served tofu soups, three ways: 청국장, 강듼장,고소콩탕
Another rice/tofu porridge 'juk' made with fresh soy milk, in which they squeeze out from their tofu directly!
Chef Lee pretending to work...
Korean pancakes '반반전' 2 ways: kimchi and tofu. Seriously, the styling and concept of having 2 kinds of the jun is beautiful!
Their dessert-tofu ice cream with lemon zest topped with blueberries was to die for!
Picked up the phone while we were about to take this photo...
With the amazing staff!
Smiling with Sue and Linus, my partners in crime when it comes to food...
Let's get down to business...
They have a beautiful gazebo and garden outside, and their walk in cooler is right below the gazebo!
Just had to take this photo of the nearby stream...
I could just imagine what the neighborhood used to look like...
*The restaurant sign and menu is only in Korean. However, Lee will help you navigate through the menu (as he's fluent in English). You can also call the restaurant and speak to Lee if you get in a cab, so that he can give specific directions to the driver.
*Menu price: course starts at 15,000-30,000 won/person. A la carte menu available as well.
Bean Table 두둑한상
Gyeonggi-do Sungnam-shi, Soojung-gu Geumto-dong 87-2 (경기도 성남시 수정구 금토동 87-2)
Subway directions: Yangjae station line 3, exit 11. Then take a cab (10 minutes).
Unfortunately the best way is to take a cab from Yangjae station because it's tucked away in a secluded area.