SK2USA: Deok Galbi

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As I have mentioned multiple times before on this site, I love Korean food. One of the best foods I have encountered is Deok Galbi (떡갈비.) Deok galbi is a menagerie of meats, noodles, and vegetables simmered in a kettle implanted in the middle of the table you are eating at.

It’s wonderful. The sauce that they use is just the right amount of sauce and the noodles they use range from deok (덕) to ramyeon noodles to a pseudo dumpling filled with sweet potato. There are a variety of meats as well. This dish somehow transforms spam from a mundane canned meat to something edible. However, I usually choose the chicken deok galbi. In some places they allow you to hand choose your ingredients ala salad carte. The best deok galbi that I have ever eaten had chicken and noodles in the kettle. Surrounding that was a ring of cheeses that melted from the excess heat. You would use pick out your bites and dip it into the molten cheese moat. It’s divine.

I’m unsure if deok galbi would take off in the USA. Although the flavors would suit the American palate, the experience itself might not work. Many restaurants here value communal eating, meaning that a whole group will eat from the same plates or kettles. Americans, as I’m sure you know, aren’t as into that. We’re germaphobes. Also, we value eating alone. We’re not afraid to hop into a restaurant and eat a full three-course meal while watching Netflix off of the restaurant’s WiFi. I don’t believe it would be possible to have the same, deok galbi dining experience as a solo diner. Unless you’re very hungry.

I wish I could take this wonderful dining experience back with me to America. Sadly, I don’t think it would be able to compete in today’s market with fast and casual dining. A way-gook could only dream, though.

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