Last year, Eric Christopher Ehler, a chef working at San Francisco’s Serpentine restaurant, took a trip to South Korea, opening his eyes to the cuisine of his ancestors. (Ehler was adopted and raised in the Midwest.)
He came back inspired to create food that had the taste of Korea. It wasn’t going to be authentic Korean food, but a mix of both worlds, probably like how a lot of Asian Americans feel cooking in the United States. Chef Ehler started a pop-up called Seoul Patch, serving lunch at Rocketfish. But tonight he had a rare dinner pop-up service at the relatively new Mission bar Dear Mom.
I checked out the Seoul Patch pop-up, in the very hipster Dear Mom bar, and while the menu had some sprinkling of Korean references like kim chi (of course) and bulgogi, it was more like a blend of cuisine from several Asian countries, like the bahn mi (Vietnamese sandwich) and ramen (Japanese noodle soup).
The Seoul Patch ramen ($12) was supposed to get its Korean influence with the addition of bulgogi, the thinly sliced marinated beef. But I don’t know if it was missing or I just didn’t have enough to even notice it because I don’t recall eating any bulgogi, although the ramen was still satisfying with its rich broth, braised greens and a whole soft-boiled egg that nearly exploded with fluid yolk as I bit into it.
The short rib dumplings ($9) reminded me of Chinese won tons, and the side of wok roasted cauliflower ($5) was tasty and representative of California eating, but didn’t blend in any Korean influences.
Seoul Patch, especially in the Dear Mom space with billiard tables and video games, was a fun pop-up to check out. But if Chef Ehler really wants to connect with his Korean roots, I hope he digs deeper and brings out more of the Korean flavors in this mish-mash of Asian-American food.
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