34: Bossam at Kobawoo House.
Kobawoo is one of Koreatown's older restaurants, having been established all the way back in 1985, and although it began as something of a late-night dive, it has transformed since then into one of the area's upper-echelon restaurants. Most of that reputation, rightly so, revolves around the bossam platter, an assemble-it-yourself combination of steamed pork belly spread out like a deck of playing cards, raw oysters, sweet and spicy kimchi, raw garlic and fermented shrimp paste, all of to be wrapped up into a sort of taco using a cabbage leaf or slice of pinkish marinated radish. It's a slippery carnival of flavors, textures, and colors — the fatty richness of pork, the crunch of radish, the potent marine funk of shrimp and oysters — and, happily, it's completely customizable.
Of course, Kobawoo isn't the only bossam practioner in town, though at times it feels like it might be. Some have suggested that the secret is steaming the pork belly in coffee, which lends a handsome brown color, or the addition of a particularly stinging variety of hot mustard into the kimchi. Whatever the “secret” is, bossam exists as both an elegant, elaborate dish — and the kind of thing you'd want by your side when finishing the table's final bottle of soju.
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