Galbi Restaurant in Rome, Italy: Discovering Kimchi and Other Korean Food

When it is about two thousand years old, has three hundred versions, and is considered as one of the healthiest dishes that exists, then I think kimchi should gain a rightful spot among the list of food that we should take note of eating. Kimchi is a Korean dish made of fermented vegetables and a variety of seasonings. Being fermented, it is rich in probiotics, the good bacteria that aids our digestive system extensively and specifically in kimchi, you can find lactobacillus kimchii.  It is also rich in dietery fibers, vitamins A, B and C and other minerals. It may have a certain strength is spiciness (have a glass of water at hand) and aroma but if you are into food that your body will benefit from, then kimchi is something to include in your regular diet.

Having kept the ancient tradition of making kimchi which is called kimjang, it was inscribed in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in December 2013. According to the Korean tradition, the women commence in preparing the kimchi in November then store them in large clay jars underground that can be eaten during winter. During the celebration of the grand Kimchi Festival, kimchi is shared among the poor families. 

Chef Daniel Kim
On the third year anniversary of the recognition of being included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Stefano Chung and Deuk Uoo ferretti Min, co-proprietors of Galbi Roma, programmed the whole month of December to inform and to give tastings of kimchi to their diners.

The 15th of December had been a particular night because Chef Daniel Kim gave an informative demonstration of making the kimchi plus a full dinner using it as an ingredient afterwards. The most popular of version is the Baechu Kimchi, the recipe of which is here. The preparation is surprisingly simple and it starts with brining the Chinese cabbage overnight to tenderize it. A paste mixture of chili, sugar, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, daikon, chili powder, pears, and spring onions is mixed together then this paste is spread liberally on each of the length of the cabbage leaf before it is kept in a container filled with brine to ferment. The fermentation can be from just a day until a few years which strengthens the flavors as time progresses. 

Kimchi is prominent in all Korean tables and it is something that you will always find on a small plate along with your food. It is usually eaten as a side dish with rice and meat or fish but it can also be used as an ingredient to other dishes like kimchi jjigae (stew), kimchi guk (soup), or kimchi jeon (kimchi fritters).

For that night, Chef Daniel Kim of Galbi prepared a five-course meal using kimchi as one of the main ingredients. Its versatility is one of its exceptional facets in the Korean cuisine. 

Top left: ttzok mandu guk    Bottom left: kimchi jeon   Top & bottom right: kimbap
For starters, there were two kinds of kimbap (rolls of nori, rice, vegetables and kimchi) along with kimchi jeon (kimchi fritters).  The warm ttzok mandu guk (soup with kimchi-stuffed dumplings, slices of meat, small meatballs, small slices of tteok or rice cakes and vegetables) came after. 

Top: tong samgyopsal gui  Bottom: bokkeumbap
The bokkeumbap that came in two versions: fried balls of fried rice with kimchi and fried rice mixed with kimchi and topped with sunny side up quail egg. As the main course, Chef Daniel Kim made tong samgyopsal gui (pork belly with kimchi) served with a slice of cooked apple with pepper and cooked clove of garlic.

A dinner is not complete without something sweet to conclude it and our sixth dish was a delicious crema bruciata ai pinoli (burnt cream with pine nuts, cardamom and cinnamon). Koreans are not so much into desserts like in Italy so for this reason, Galbi created a number of Italian desserts with touches of Asian flavors.

Galbi has a very interesting menu which makes it imperative to check out and make another dinner of discovery. Two nights after, I was back again with my kids in tow to try their specialty: the deungsim gui (table barbecue). The grills (for 4 people, you need 2), are set in the middle of the table with a big platter of slices of raw top sirloin, pineapples, avocado, and mushrooms. When the meat are cooked, there are three condiments to choose from which are barbecue sauce, chili sauce and coarse salt with chili flakes. Order a side dish of kimchi to go with it. When you have kids, this is the best way to make them participate in understanding what they are eating and discovering Korean cuisine together.

Other dishes to take note of are: dak twighim (fried chicken served with Galbi ketchup), mandu jjim (grilled dumplings stuffed with vegetables, beef and tofu), and japchae (sweet potato spaghetti with Korean mushrooms, vegetables, and beef). If the beef of the deungsim gui comes free of any marinade, the other barbecued beef (outside the menu) that we had had been marinated and grilled to perfection. The flavor of the outer part was strong enough to make the whole slice of beef tasty but without giving any overpowering taste.

Oh yes, do try the Galbi semifreddo which is a black sesame semifreddo with crunchy peanuts and salted caramel sauce before you finish your dinner.

Top left: dak twighim  Top right: mandu jjim  Bottom left: Korean beef barbecue  Bottom right: japchae

Galbi Restaurant

Via Cremera, 21/23/25
00198 Rome, Italy
Tel: +39 068842132
Open: Mondays to Fridays for lunch and dinner / Saturday dinner

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