The story goes that there was once a well-known and respected doctor that had everything going for him in life. He had a loving family, he had a successful practice, and many friends. Everything seemed to be going well, maybe too well. Like, Job that was struck down by God in order to test his faith, the same was for this doctor. This doctor, ironically, was diagnosed late with a deadly form of cancer, so advanced that not even modern medicine could cure him.
Not knowing what to do, he looked to the small, simple soybean. He saw how food could be a medicine and so he focused on how natural food could nourish his body and cure him. Through a diet of naturally fermented food made from soybean- especially cheonggukjang, he was able to magically reverse the tide of cancer and return to health.
In tribute to the bean that saved his life, he decided to open up Hong Yeong Jae Cheonggukjang: a Korean restaurant that focuses on natural, curative food that emphasizes food made from fermented soybean paste.
Besides being healthy, the food is delicious. Each dish is prepared creatively and with an emphasis on flavor. One of the first courses had a whole tomato filled with a bean sauce with a mustard dressing. There was also natto (lightly fermented soybean) with bean sprouts. Their poached pork belly dish (bossam) was served with sour, aged kimchi- a wonderful counterpoint for the savory meat. A salad I really enjoyed had almonds, green chives and a wild sesame seed dressing. There were so many dishes that came out such as a grilled, marinated beef patties, corvina fish in a sesame, soy sauce, and even spicy octopus.
The last dish to come out was a simple bowl of Rich Soybean Paste Stew (Cheonggukjang) with a bowl of rice. This soup made from the magical beans that was able to save a doctor’s life was enlightening. The rich, creamy stew was soothing and I felt satiated. Food is medicine and we should keep that in mind.
Hong Yong Jae
3-stars out of 4 (All natural food in a modern Korean atmosphere. Food is creative and nourishing)
Seoul, Gangnam-gu Samseongdong 109-8 (서울 강남구 삼성동 109-8)