Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chef Debbie Lee's Seoul Town Tapas at Breadbar + GIVEAWAY

Congrats to Dina Leigh for Winning the $50 Gift Card to Seoul Town Tapas from the Breadbar!

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Ever since I saw Debbie Lee compete on the America's Next Food Network Star Show, I was really interested in her cooking style that fused both her Korean and Southern background. Unfortunately, I had missed her first stint at BreadBar as a part of their Hatchi series, but I wasn't about to miss her second one. This time, her second appearance was going to serve as an introduction to the type of food she plans to serve at her own restaurant opening later this year. Simply, her concept is all about Seoul Town Tapas, where the food is a take on Korean pub food, but with a modern flair.

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Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Since tapas are fun to share with a good-size group, 9 of my dining club members, joined me one Saturday evening where we shared a total of 17 dishes plus a couple of kimchi dishes in place of bread and butter. Being a kimchi fan, I'd take it over bread and butter anytime. Besides, it's less filling so that over indulging in it means you still have room for your meal.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Both the daikon and the cabbage kimchi were very light in the sense that you get a taste of the chili and also some vinegary-sour flavor notes, but the vegetables still shined through. While I still love my kimchi very heavily fermented to the point that the vegetables take on a deep orange red, this lighter style of kimchi is good starter for the novice kimchi eater.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar
Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Although our group ordered all 4 skewers, I actually only tried two of them. First, there was the Bacon Wrapped Rice Cylinders with Jalapeno Ponzu. You can never go wrong with bacon and of all 4 skewers, this one was the absolute favorite of the group. The rice absorbed the smoky saltiness of the bacon and dipping it into the jalapeno ponzu gave it nice little hit of citrus heat.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

I also tried the Kimchi Roast Pork and Fuji Apple Skewers. Apples and pork usually pair really well together and in this case, the apple did its job and was crunchy and juicy. However, the roast pork was a little dry and wasn't as flavorful as I would have liked. If you're going to use kimchi as a way to describe an ingredient, you really have to mean it.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

As mentioned, I didn't try the other two skewers, but you can take a look at them below. The first is the Grilled Eggplant and Tofu Skewer with Pimento Scallion Glaze and the second is the Salmon and Scallion Skewer with Korean Miso Honey.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar
Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Next up was the Sesame Flatbread with Perillo Pesto, Soy Braised Pork and Chile Tomatoes. Other than wishing that the pesto was spread out a little more towards the edges of the flat bread so I could get more of it, I enjoyed this dish. The herbiness of the pesto sauce went nicely with the salt-sweet of the soy sauce braised pork with the tomatoes adding a nice acidity and since I love thin crust pizza, I appreciated the crispiness of the flatbread itself.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Since I enjoy bold flavors, the stir-fried kimchi, pork, rice cakes with a gochujang splash made my taste buds happy. The gochujang is a Korean red pepper paste and it definitely added an extra oomph to this dish, which I truly appreciated.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

When it comes to Korean dumplings aka mandu, I've had my share and there's only been two I've liked so far and one of them is Chef Lee's Modern Mandu with Pork Rilette and King Oyster Ju. At first, I wasn't quite sure of the whole oyster ju thing. Pork and oysters? Huh? However, the subtle brininess of the oyster jus actually paired well with this dumpling. In fact, many of us were spooning it into our dumpling as we took bites out of it.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

One of my almost favorite dishes of the meal was the Chicken Meatballs with Magnolia Pepper Sauce and let me tell you why. I absolutely loved the crispy texture of the meatball and the sauce it was cooked in was absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, the chicken meat itself seemed under seasoned. Maybe, just a little salt and/or pepper and hand's down, this would have been tops on my list.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Following the chicken meatballs was Mama Lee's Meatloaf made with ground rib eye, soy onion demi and crispy shitake mushrooms. We weren't initially going to order this particular dish, but after Chef Lee came out to tell us about some of the dishes on the menu, her description of this one sounded so scrumptious, we had to have it. I'm so glad I did. That meatloaf was so juicy and flavorful, I almost wish that we ordered another 2 or 3 plates, just so I could have seconds, maybe, even thirds.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Up next was the Shrimp and Scallion Cakes with Ginger Soy Vinegar. To tell you the truth, although I know that liked this dish, I don't remember any specifics about it at the moment; however, if you order it, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Ok, three more dishes before dessert and next to hit our table was the Halibut Jeon Style, Egg Battered with Kimchi Stir Fry and Seoul-Style Chimichurri. I liked the kimchi stir fry and the chimichurri. Unfortunately, the fish itself was a little too dry. Perhaps, it was overcooked? I'm not quite sure. Of everything we had that night, this was my least favorite dish.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Seeing Korean Fried Chicken on the menu, I knew we had to order it. The chicken itself was moist and tender, but the garlic glaze needed to be more garlicky than it was, but that could also just be a personal preference.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Our last savory dish was the Spicy Chilled Buckwheat Noodles, Sashimi Trio, Scallion and Crisp Apples. I really like cold noodle dishes and this version was quite good. I could have easily just eaten the whole bowl by myself if I hadn't already been getting full.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Of course, I'm never too full for dessert and we decided to sample 3 of the desserts on the menu. Although we only ordered 3, all 4 actually came out, but when we had mentioned that we hadn't actually ordered that fourth dessert, they let us have it anyway and took it off our check. Now that's good service. That fourth dessert was a Nutella and Blueberry Sandwich on a Pan di Mie Bread. Usually, nutella could be really sweet, but the addition of the blueberry cut into that sweet and gave the sandwich more of a tartness, which I thought was genius.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Next was the Fuji Apple Egg Rolls with Ginger Mascarpone. I enjoyed the crispy egg roll wrappers and the sweet apples. The ginger mascarpone could have been more gingery, but I still enjoyed slathering it on my egg roll and even just eating small spoonfuls of it.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

With bacon being one of my favorite food groups, I absolutely loved the Bacon Coffee Sponge Cake Roll with Coffee Cream and Almond Butterscotch. I liked how the soft, mild sponge cake was the foundation for all the other stronger flavored ingredients around it. I could even seeing myself eating this for breakfast. After all, doesn't bacon, coffee and eggs (albeit in the sponge cake) say breakfast to you? It does to me.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Of our four desserts, my least favorite was the Sesame Buttermilk Beignets with Chocolate Drizzle. When I think of beignets, I'm thinking light and airy and these beignets were too dense for my liking. Even the chocolate syrup didn't add much to it. Maybe, if it was filled with cream, but then I don't know if that's a typical ingredient for beignets.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee at BreadBar

Overall, while there some minor misses, this meal was one I enjoyed a lot and I'm looking forward to seeing what else Chef Debbie Lee comes up with when she finally does open up her own restaurant.

Seoul Town Tapas with Chef Debbie Lee
717 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles CA, 90048
(310) 205-0124
Seoul Town Tapas Ends May 1st!
Breadbar on Urbanspoon


Now that you've read and seen pictures of my experience with Debbie Lee's Seoul Town Tapas, now you're chance to win a $50 Gift Card that will give you a chance to check out Debbie Lee's food at Breadbar for yourself. Please note that this gift card will only be good for Seoul Town Tapas and you should only enter if you can make reservations between April 22 and May 1st.

There are multiple ways to enter, so check them all out below.

1. Leave a comment and tell me why you'd like to you'd like to try Chef Debbie Lee's Seoul Town Tapas. (Please leave your email so that I can contact you. Spell it out like abby at pleasurepalate dot com)

2. Follow Debbie Lee on Twitter (if you aren’t already doing so)

3. Follow Breadbar on Twitter (if you aren't already doing so).

4. Fan Breadbar on Facebook (if you aren’t already doing so)

5. Tweet: Win a $50 gift card for @seoultosoul Seoul Town Tapas from @breadbar_la via @pleasurepalate

You can have up to 5 total entries each; however, please note that you have to comment back and let me know which of the actions you took, so that I can keep track of them. This is especially true for 2 through 4. If you don’t let me know which actions you took, then I won’t count them as entries.

Contest ends Wednesday, April 21 at 11:59 AM, PST and a winner will be randomly chosen from all entries. Good Luck!



Julie said...

This looks awesome! I need to try this place, being Korean American, I recognize the large majority of the dishes you profiled, and would love to see how these traditional dishes get the tapas treatment.

The concept is ingenious, I hope to experience the execution!

juliejkang at gmail dot com

(I also became a fan of BreadBar on Facebook)

TNT said...

I love Korean food and love southern food. Would love to try Debbie Lee's creations.

cchung at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

dinaleigh here again.. i also tweeted #5. thanks!

Anonymous said...

The pictures look amazing... would like to try this twist on korean food!

I've completed items 2-4.. twitter: dinaleigh. facebook: dina pepito
email: dinaleigh at yahoo dot com

michelle woo said...

I've been wanting to try Seoul Town Tapas forever! Pork belly + kimchi = OMG.

michellewoo at gmail dot com

weezermonkey said...

Bacon-wrapped rice cylinders! Nice shots. :)

Nicola said...

Two big loves of my life: Spanish tapas comfort food (my family is Spanish) and excellent Korean BBQ.

Would love to see how two of my favorite things come together, and love The Bread Bar! Fingers crossed!

nicolapiggott at gmail dot com

Nicola said...

ps. I'm a fan and follower of all on Facebook and Twitter!

nicolapiggott at gmail dot com

Sam said...

i should be there this week! i follow both of them on twitter.

was bummd to miss her dishes at gyenari so i should go and try it here before i go out of town..

Paula said...

Hi Abby, is Paula, your AO. I saw Debbie Lee on The Next Food Network Star, and was intrigued by her food. I'd love to win this opportunity to try it!

sophia said...

Me again: Follow Breadbar on twitter, and am a fan!

sophia said...

I follow Debbie on twitter...

sophia said...

I've tweeted!

sophia said...

OMg. I'm absolutely DYING to try all her dishes!!! I'm a huge Korean-fusion fan!

smilinggreenmom said...

These photos are amazing and really making me hungry! I would love to try a flatbread like the one shown....we love recipes like this. I have fallen in love with using Kamut Khorasan Wheat for anything requiring flour and now I feel like I have to find this family would be bonkers! Thank you!

burumun said...

I've been wanting to try her Korean+Southern fusion cooking, and thought I would get to do so at Gyenari but alas I didn't ...

This Breadbar event will be the perfect chance!

burumun said...

2. now following chef Debbie Lee! :)
3. already following Breadbar

5. Tweeted the giveaway :)

gourmetpigs at gmail dot com

LPH said...

Abby, when I went to Seoultown tapas we did not order as much as you did because there were only two of us. But, I think I agree on lots of things you liked. My favorites were the nutella sandwich dessert, the meatloaf and the pork dumplings. I thought the fried chicken was a big disappointment. Everything else was just okay to me. Chef Lee is really nice, though and spent a lot of time talking to us about her cooking philosophy.

Kelsey P said...

Just got incredibly hungry looking at these photos - think i need to take the man here to broaden his foodie experiences beyond the normal burgers+pizzas+beers... Okay maybe I need to do that for myself too..

pleasurepalate said...

LPH: I always love going with a larger group when I can. It's a way of being able to try a lot of dishes at one time. When it came to the Korean Fried Chicken, I'm definitely more of a Kyochon fan. :)

Mr Ron said...

I so would have loved to go with your group on this one, although I don't mind that I caught Chef Debbie the following week because I got the K Town Cheesesteak! lol. I'm following Debbie and Breadbar on Twitter & retweeted the contest