Perched over the collegiate area’s hangout fixture, Burger B, Hongdae newcomer Beale St. lives up to its Memphis-inspired name, dishing out mouthwatering barbecue that has served its proper time in a smoker getting tender and juicy before doing a final, flesh-crisping stint on the grill.
“After opening Burger B, we wanted to do barbecue, the kind that we enjoyed in America,” said Burger B and Beale St. co-owner Suk Jun-choi.
Suk, who had spent some time in the United States, wanted his next restaurant endeavor to bring to Seoul the good old-fashioned, slow-cooked meat he had gotten a taste for while abroad.
|A half-order of Beale St.’s Memphis-style dry-rub spare ribs served with housemade coleslaw. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)|
Barbecue is not about using one kind of sauce on a cut of meat and cooking it one way. American barbecue, which has deep roots in the South, boasts a diverse range of styles that vary from region to region, and when it comes to Memphis, Tennessee, one of the styles the city is known for is dry-rub barbecue.
Basically, dry-rub barbecue is where meat is marinated in a mixture of spices and sugar and then smoked and grilled, setting it apart from barbecue where a tomato- or vinegar-based sauce is used.
It is a widely known fact that Memphis is famed for its dry rub, and Suk, inspired by the barbecue he had while visiting the city, decided that his new joint would serve ribs slathered in a spice rub.
Sending a nod of acknowledgement to the city that influenced the new establishment’s hearty, beer-friendly menu, the gastropub was christened after the famous Memphis street, Beale.
For anyone who knows, barbecue in the South starts with pork. In essence, great barbecue is a perfect marriage of pork and smoke, and so it comes as no surprise that Beale St.’s spare ribs, a classic Southern barbecue cut, more than merit a try.
Instead of going for a textbook, traditional dry rub with a mop sauce, co-owner Suk revealed that the ribs get brushed with a single layer of barbecue sauce before being coated in the establishment’s spice rub.
Nearly fall-apart tender, the sauce-meets-rub combination does the trick, giving the ribs a not-too-thick, not-too-overpowering, addictive, caramelized, sweet-and-salty crust that makes gnawing at each meaty bone in prehistoric fashion all the more enjoyable.
The crust is so good that the ends of each order of ribs, which offer up the greatest sauce-rub coated flesh-to-bare meat-per bone ratio, might induce some bickering between friends and family eager to claim their prize.
While barbecue almost takes the cake at Beale St., there are some other strong menu contenders.
As befits a gastropub, the establishment’s kale chips and fried pork rinds, both of which are dubbed “bar snacks,” make for excellent beer companions.
The leafy greens are fried into crisp “chips,” anointed with thick slivers of housemade bacon and paired with a chipotle mayonnaise for a savory, smoky, greasy experience that practically screams for an icy pint of draft beer.
Beale St.’s chicharrones are also a must. The Spanish-style pork rinds are fried to puffy airiness and coated with spices. Served still warm from the fryer, each morsel is so good it’s a shame that the whole dish doesn’t simply consist of pork rinds, sans the popcorn that accompanies it.
Just a month and a half into business, Beale St. is still settling down. Co-owner Suk revealed plans to bolster its selection of beer, which currently includes domestic craft beers on tap. Other plans are to add hanger steak to the menu.
In other words, patrons can expect more meat and more beer in the near future.
|Located in Hongdae, barbecue gastropub Beale St. serves up ribs, pulled pork and bar snacks in a wood-and-brick, 50-seat space with a vintage vibe. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)|
2F, 363-28 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul/(02) 322-0755.
Open noon to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, open till 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Dry-rub spare ribs cost 19,000 won for a half order, 37,000 won for a full order (barbecue sauce spare ribs can also be ordered instead), chicharrn popcorn costs 3,800 won, kale chips and bacon cost 4,000 won.
Domestic craft beer on tap 6,500 won to 7,500 won.
By Jean Oh (email@example.com