Last week, my friend and I tried to eat steak. Well, we did eat steak, in fact. But it somehow still felt like a failure. I’d invited her around my way for dry aged meat and then couldn’t find the note I’d scribbled down about the restaurant I was thinking of. At the last minute, I did a quick Naver search and came up with the Butcher’s Cut on the main drag between Itaewon and Hannam.
It wouldn’t have felt like a failure had we paid 30,000 won for the steak instead of 50,000, or if their description of the steak as dry aged hadn’t been grandiose at best and flat out fraud at worst.
At any rate, it left me hankering for a properly dry aged hunk of meat, so yesterday I hauled myself down to Yangjae to see a man about a steak.
Someday I’m going to get up the nerve to take photos in public properly, I promise. As it was, I was nose to nose with the butchers in the tiny shop and only managed to snap a few sneaky frames from the side. I don’t know why I didn’t just ask them if it would be alright to take some photos, as we spent a good while just chatting about the meat while they gently fished for compliments and I eagerly supplied them.
They have some incredible sounding specials throughout the week, including wine and gochujang (fermented red chili pepper paste) marinated pork and wine and soy sauce marinated pork on Mondays, coconut donkas (breaded pork cutlets) on Tuesdays and tomato stew on Saturdays (the last one is new since the last time I’d been there), but I somehow seem to always end up there on a Wednesday.
I go for the 40-day dry aged T- and L-bone steak.
This bad boy comes in at 458 grams and cost only 40,000 won. I got two. Part of the reason the steaks are so cheap is because Gamseong specializes in lean meat and uses grades 2 and 3 beef. The owner of the shop prefers a lower fat content for dry aging. (They do offer higher grade pork, however.) He says he knows some people will avoid the shop because of the lower grade meat, but that he’s just decided to go ahead and do things his way anyway. I personally don’t put loads of stock into the grading system. Grass-fed beef, for example, is lower in fat and often lacks the marbling needed to get the highest ratings. That doesn’t mean it’s not good.
Gamseong is far from the only specialty, upscale butcher in Seoul — there seem to be new ones popping up every month, but Gamseong are my guys. If you ask (or often even if you don’t), they will happily tell you exactly how each cut should be cooked, for how long (and I mean, in great detail) and suggest a recipe or marinade that goes well with that particular cut. They even wrap my meat with an ice pack to see it makes it home safely after the hour-long bus journey.
Since this post is kind of brief and light on photos, and since I automatically associate Gamseong Butcher’s with the Yangjae Flower Market, I thought I’d tack on a few photos from yesterday’s visit. The market is only 15 minutes by foot from the butcher, so I always hit both in one go. The guys at Gamseong must think I’m a lunatic because I always show up hauling an armload of cut flowers and plants, but I’d rather haul my flowers across town in the heat of the day than do it the other way around and risk any harm coming to my meat.
The flower market is one of my favorite places, more for the rows of greenhouses that harbor endless floor-to-ceiling rows of live plants than the basement full of beautiful cut flowers, actually. A stroll through the densely packed stalls stuffed full of cacti, orchids, hanging air plants and jungle trees with the sunlight streaming in from above is an absolute sensory overload, in the best way possible.
This morning, B casually mentioned the possibility of buying some land in his mother’s hometown down south, “for the future,” and I told him not to tempt me. For now, an early afternoon walk through the flower market and along the stream that runs through Yangjae Citzens’ Forest right beside it will just have to do.
서울시 서초구 양재동 언남길 255-6
255-6 Eunnam-gil, Yangjae-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul
Yangjae Flower Market
서울시 서초구 양재동 232
232 Yangjae-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul
Fresh Flower Wholesale Market
Fresh Flower Stalls
Live Plant Vendors
(The two buildings alternate closing every other Sunday, but there will always be something open.)