Swellfish, Blowfish, Puffer, Fugu, Bok
Daebokjip, in Bukchang-Dong, an enclave chock full of restaurants, specializes in bok, which is Korean for blowfish. In fact, that's really all they serve, prepared numerous ways. Not only was this my first time eating the potentially poisonous fish (known as fugu to sushi aficionados), but it was also an adventure in communication. The owner, Namhee Song, doesn't speak English, so it took several phone calls to his son Ken to help me get my order straight.
First of all it looked like there might be two kinds of fish, but it turned out the prefix on some of the dishes meant they were prepared from live fish. I went for live. Then there was some misunderstanding about whether I wanted my bok soup spicy (it's often hard to convince Asians that you like food as spicy as they do). We eventually got it all straightened out and my soup, which started mild, was spiced up.
They also serve a savory dipping sauce for the fish to which one adds wasabi.
Bok is rather expensive, I guess due to its rarity and the need for trained chefs. My fresh bok soup cost over $25, and for a multi-course bok dinner you can pay $100 in this unassuming room. I didn't really know what to expect, and to tell the truth, it didn't do much for me. The fish really isn't that flavorful. It's very low in fat and the pieces were full of cartilage surrounding the flesh.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the meal for me was my drink: warm rice wine with toasted bok fins.
Oh well, I did enjoy talking to Ken Song on the phone.
65-2, Bukchang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea,120-710
Tel: 82 2 755-0189
www.bokfood.net (Korean only)