My experience at Dancen was definitely very different from the other Korean dining experiences I’ve had before. Nothing I tried was anything with which I was previously familiar, at least in the Korean sense. The foods included duk pol gi (a spicy rice cake, very thick, almost like a canister in shape), pork skins (crispy, harder, dipped into a sauce and then a powder), cod roe soup (fish egg soup, the eggs tasted surprisingly like dumplings/noodles), and seafood pancakes (almost like a slice of pizza made out of seafood, with a light, crisp dough). All of this was interesting, but the item that actually surprised me was the cheese buldak, or the spicy chicken with cheese.
Why no cheese buldak picture? Well, I’m pretty terrible with pictures in the first place, and I looked online for a solid picture for this stuff, and there wasn’t really anything I felt good about. I could have, y’know, actually taken a freaking picture with my phone, but the place was pretty dark and I didn’t want to be a picture weirdo at the table with some people I didn’t know. It looks like… well, a bunch of chicken pieces baked together with a cheese sauce sort of enveloping the stuff. Maybe like baked ziti but with chicken.
I was surprised with the dish largely because of the cheese aspect. I really don’t think of dairy as being a component to any east Asian cuisine. The girls told me that cheese is an ingredient in Korean bar food, and its introduction into Korean cuisine is relatively recent.
The dish itself is a combination of sweet and spicy, and as a bar food it’s typically meant to be eaten with a beer. (We had some rice wine with pineapple juice added in instead.) It came with a ban chan made from sliced cabbage with a cream sauce.
If you have the buldak, you’ll want to be careful with your pace. I now know why it’s often had with beer -- if you eat it too quickly, the spice levels really accumulate. I (obviously) ate it too quickly and in just a couple minutes I went from “there’s a little bit of spice” to “oh, there’s more spice than I thought” to “CRAP, this was too much at once”. Still yummy, still interesting (especially for a Korean dish), but just take your time and enjoy the food and people before wolfing things down. Look! Free advice. You’re welcome.
Filed under: Menu Item Analysis