Mardi Gras devotees are destined to have New Orleans on the brain with the recent celebration of Fat Tuesday ― which, for those who have grabbed a bite in the city, probably includes a hankering for local treats like the iconic beignet.
The beignet is Louisana’s answer to the more widespread donut. While the fritter with a French pedigree varies from place to place, many view those from New Orleans’ famed Cafe du Monde as representative of a classic beignet.
Either way, there is something undeniably addictive about getting served up a plate of piping hot, golden beignets, nestled under a cloud of sweet powdered sugar.
One bite of that greasy, bouffant decadence chased by a sip of hot coffee is the perfect antidote to the morning blues.
Until now, these rare creatures were hard to come by here in Seoul, but two newly minted spots are currently serving up their renditions of Louisana’s official state donut, making it easier for beignet lovers to get their fix of eye-popping, fried sweetness.
Hannam-dong brunch darling Pancakes Original Story jazzed up the menu for their second outlet, which opened in Apgujeong last week, with two variations on the beignet.
|Pancake Original Story’s Apgujeong outlet dishes out a mean stack of decadent banana, Nutella and peanut butter pancakes. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)|
“Many people in Korea don’t know what a beignet is,” Pancakes Original Story general manager Song Eun-hee explained. “We wanted to do something new and wanted it to be a thinner variation on the donut.”
After much experimentation, one sweet and one savory interpretation of the fritter emerged.
The sweet version features two triangle-shaped beignets, one stuffed with peanut butter and the other with chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar for a donut-meets-Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup-type experience.
The execution of the dessert is spot on. The golden fritters are crisp, with dark chocolate and creamy peanut butter oozing out the centers, and powdered sugar liberally coats each triangle for an epic sugar blast.
As befits the second outlet of the brunch spot, which features a more diverse, experimental menu, a hearty, meat-filled version of the French donut was dreamed up for dinner-goers.
Christened moo-moo in beignets, two hearty, large fried pockets are filled with ground beef, jalapeo and cheese for a delectably piquant, near-empanada-like dish.
At Miki Creole, a new eatery in Hannam-dong, beignets are downsized into cream puff-sized spheres and emerge piled up in a basket and covered with powdered sugar.
|Miki Creole’s beignet basket features small, cream puff-sized fritters covered in powdered sugar. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)|
It would be a sin not to get a bit messy, biting into the hot, petite fritter, straight into the gooey center, before double-dipping (if fellow dining companions do not mind) into the sugar again for yet another moment of doughy sweetness.
Miki Creole director Kim Ju-young explained how she and her husband, who have visited New Orleans numerous times, hankered after beignets but were having trouble finding a place that sold them in Korea.
“So, we decided to make them ourselves,” said Kim.
Rather than serve a standard, larger beignet, Miki Creole dishes out smaller, bite-sized morsels with deliberately gooey, yet airy centers.
The beignet basket is just one of many Creole-inspired dishes on the menu of the eatery, which is located on the first floor of a multi-restaurant building in Hannam-dong.
Other innovative New Orleans-style eats include Creole chili topped with sour cream, capers and paired with grilled flatbread.
Studded with kidney beans, the chili gets extra oomph from nubs of chewy, delectable beef knee cartilage.
Just scoop a bit onto a torn piece of bread, top with sour cream and capers and voila: a tart, fresh yet hearty bite.
Of the decision to focus on a multicultural, Louisiana-based cuisine with aristocratic French origins, Kim said she and her husband were inspired by the Creole food they tasted during trips to New Orleans.
Initially intended for Miki Creole patrons only, the menu became so popular that customers seated on the basement floor, where the third outlet of the Mediterranean-style restaurant Tastingroom is located, can order it as well.
Kim, who is also the director for the Tastingroom, added the Miki Creole menu will also be available at the Tastingroom’s first outlet in Cheongdam-dong starting March 1.
Of the recent proliferation of New Orleans-inspired eats in Seoul, Kim said, “I think people looking for something new gave rise to demand for this kind of cuisine.”
Pancakes Original Story Apgujeong outlet;
646-23 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul; (02) 543-0508; open 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, closed Sundays; beignets cost 9,800 won to 21,000 won
744-29 Hannam-dong, Yongsan- gu, Seoul; (02) 797-8203; www.tastingroom.co.kr; open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to midnight daily; beignet basket costs 6,600 won
By Jean Oh (email@example.com)