Last night, I was lucky enough to be invited to try the newly opened restaurant in Kimberly Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, where you usually find the authentic Korean restaurants but this one definitely stands out among them as it is the first restaurant that features such a wide range of Makgeolli in Hong Kong.
Just in case if you’re not familiar with Makgeolli, it’s a traditional rice wine with slightly sweet flavor from Korea. Makgeolli has had a long history in Korea, Korean farmers were known to enjoy Makgeolli in containers made of copper during their breaks from the field in older times but it has become a trendy drink among young customers in the past few years due to the success of the first contemporary Makgeolli bar in Seoul, with Korean dishes pairing with Makgeolli on its main menu, such as pancakes and spicy dishes. Despite of the popularity of the Makgeolli Bars in Korea, the owner of Ssal Bori Ssal, SJ, can barely find the Makgeolli in Hong Kong that he enjoys and this is how Ssal Bori Ssal was born.
Boksoondoga Makgeolli ($260)
Hodam Wild Ginseng Fresh Makgeolli ($128)
We tried 3 different Makgeolli during the meal. The first one is called Tiger Fresh Makgeolli ($130), I fell in love with Makgeolli after a sip of it, it tastes really gentle, smooth, and not too dry. The sweet flavor is subtle and not fruity-like at all. The second one is my personal favorite - Boksoondoga Makgeolli ($260), which is naturally carbonated and fizzy, it reminds me of champagne (it’s served in champagne flutes too) but with more milky texture and tart flavor. I can imagine that will be a perfect party drink, even for those who are not so keen on alcohol beverage. The last one is Hodam Wild Ginseng Fresh Makgeolli ($128) and also really surprising for me as I’m usually not a big fan of ginseng because of its bitterness that I have experienced before but this one is quite refreshing and delicate. The Makgeolli and ginseng compliments each other very well.
Boksoondoga Makgeolli ($260)
Spicy Seafood & Fishcake Soup ($170)
For the food to pair with Makgeolli, we were served with Pig Trotter ($260) which is boiled and braised with 15 Korean herbs and then the Pork Belly ($220). While the pork rind of Pig Trotter has the texture like jelly and quite chewy, the Pork Belly literally melted in your mouth. Both pork dishes are tasty on their own but even better with the bean paste or seafood sauce, and the lettuce helps to freshen up the meat while combined. The Pork Ribs ($290) has a modern twist of the traditional dish - the ribs are cooked with a hot sauce that is specially made by Ssal Bori Ssal and top with mozzarella cheese. They are surprisingly not that spicy and go really well with the cheese. The Kimchi Pancake ($80) is made of kimchi, egg and fresh kimchi broth. The pancake mixture is pan-fried and served with Ssal Bori Ssal’s homemade pickle onion dip. It’s a simple dish but perfect to pair with Makgeolli. We finish off with Spicy Seafood & Fishcake Soup ($170) which I think it would be a nice appetizer too.