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Humble sundae gets haute makeover at Lee Buk Bang

May 25, 2024 - 16:00 By Kim Da-sol
Lee Buk Bang's sundae, Korean blood sausage (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)

Sundae, a steamed Korean blood sausage stuffed with meat, rice and vegetables, is one of the most popular street foods in Korea. But, this humble dish is elevated to haute cuisine at a sundae omakase restaurant in Mapo-gu, Seoul.

At the hands of chef Choi Ji-hyung, the owner of a fine dining restaurant Lee Buk Bang, renamed to what is now in 2021, different kinds of sundae are served over a seven- to nine-course meal. As the name suggests, Lee Buk Bang offers food from "leebuk," North Korea in Korean. Recipes were handed down from his grandmother, a North Korean refugee.

Lee Buk Bang earned a Michelin Plate distinction in 2019, which is given to restaurants deemed of high quality but not yet worthy of a star, and has maintained the accolade ever since.

As you step inside, the ambiance of the wooden interior restaurant reminds diners of the comfort and nostalgia of a grandma’s kitchen. At the large, aged wooden slab counter, up to a dozen people can sit facing the open kitchen.

Pieces of different types of sundae are placed on your plate for this eight-course meal at Lee Buk Bang. (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)

At Lee Buk Bang, all sundae are made in the restaurant’s kitchen.

While the menu varies slightly by season, the signature and main dish of the course is a sundae plate with four different kinds of sundae. From baek sundae -- a white sundae that doesn’t use blood -- to the moist North Korean-style Abai sundae stuffed with meat, vegetables and pork intestine blood, the stuffing differs for each kind.

For certain kinds, as many as a dozen ingredients such as sticky rice, glass noodles, meat, vegetables, egg and even duck or lamb are used. Sundae served at Lee Buk Bang uses pork intestine or vegan casings.

One of the most creative experiences at Lee Buk Bang is the four different sauces that match each kind of sundae. Salted shrimp, Maldon salt, black soybean sauce and spicy dipping sauce with seeds are paired with meat sundae, baek sundae, Abai Sundae and duck sundae, respectively.

New ingredients and different ratios of original sundae stuffing ingredients give a modern twist with a savory taste and soft texture. Because the restaurant uses non-Korean spices in the stuffing, some even taste like European-style sausage.

Prices start at 49,800 won for the weekday lunch courses. The nine-course dinner is priced at 69,800 won. Lee Buk Bang also boasts extensive wine, soju and traditional Korean liquor lists.