what: Ttukbaegi Bulgogi
where: 929 Kitchen & Bar, 929 Gervais St., 803-764-3825, 929Kitchen.com
929’s sweater weather menu is decked out with tempting belly warmers including a spicy seafood noodle soup, pork belly lettuce wraps, and Korean fried chicken. But it was the beef stew cooked and served in a ttukbaegi (clay pot) and brimming with a fat tangle of potato starch noodles and toothpick-thin enoki mushrooms that rang my dinner bell.
The glistening and simmering broth is, as you might expect, dominated by the flavor of the marinated bulgogi, but it is no one-flavor pony. You can detect subtle notes of earthy sweetness emanating from the bobbing carrots and scallions, lending additional intrigue to each spoonful.
A ball of rice and a trio of banchan (Korean side dishes) accompany the bulgogi feast. My all-time favorite, cucumber pickles (perked up with gochugaru chile flakes), are definitely the star of the small bite lineup. As someone who chows down on the cool and briny, spicy and sour cucumber kimchi by the pint while binge-watching The Mandalorian, I was very happy.
Despite the overly generous portion size, it still took every ounce of restraint I could muster to leave a third of the meal behind, so that I could give the stew a second life as tomorrow’s lunch — and leave enough room in my stomach to cram in an order of hotteok, a cinnamon and peanut-filled deep fried pancake 929 serves à la mode.