South Korean culture is dominating the world, from its K-dramas, K-pop music to delectable cuisine, which goes beyond your typical Korean barbecue. So, if you’re craving for more than samgyeopsal or beef bulgogi, you’ll be glad to know that former Kimme head chef Louis Han will return to the F&B scene as the chef founder of modern Korean restaurant Naeum. It’s set to open its doors in Telok Ayer Street come July 1.
The restaurant (whose name naeum is a description of a fragrance that brings back memories) is the amalgamation of Han’s South Korean heritage, love for the arts and global culinary influences after working at lauded establishments in Seoul, Abu Dhabi and Singapore. These have shaped his personal cooking style, dubbed ‘contemporary Seoul cuisine’, which is based on the culinary diversity of Seoul but takes inspiration from Korean provincial flavours and international influences to create distinctly unique and innovative dishes.
These are crafted with the finest seasonal ingredients from Korea and the rest of the world and served in menus (that will change based on episodes) that showcase different food stories in Han’s personal journey. Episode one is all about the chef’s favourite ingredients he grew up with, came to love and now work with in the kitchen. One of these is hwae (sashimi), which he uses to make his own version of the popular summer dish called mulhwae. While it’s traditionally served as a cold spicy raw fish soup, Han elevates it by pouring chilli sauce over aged fish, shaved cuttlefish and koji-fermented daikon. The ingredients are then rolled in Korean sesame leaves and accented with Korean herbs.
Gochujang is ubiquitous in Korean cuisine and another favourite ingredient of Han. But instead of using the fermented chilli paste to marinate meat or vegetables, he uses it as a marinade for the Challans duck that’s been dry-aged in-house. It’s then seared, roasted and grilled over binchotan to books the flavours and served with pickled beetroot and onion puree.