A Taste of Korea: Hanwoo 한우 Homegrown Korean Beef

Words by Joyce Kong, shots by Annie Otto


Hanwoo beef is a source of national pride to Koreans. In fact, I cannot imagine anything more patriotic than Kim Yuna chomping down Hanwoo steak while driving a Hyundai. Beautifully marbled with fine veins of flavor-bearing fat, Hanwoo steaks are a marvel. As it cooks, these delicate white streams of fat slowly melt, adding juiciness and enhancing beef flavors. A thin, salty sear on the outside crackles as a warm gush of beefy, buttery pudding fills your mouth. One does not chew Hanwoo beef; it melts in your mouth.

It comes in various grades such as B, A, A+, A++, and even A+++, and each jump in grade can cost you dearly. These cows are treated better than humans. They are fed fermented feed because the alcohol is said to bring out the high quality of the meat. They are massaged and pampered, and I wouldn’t find it surprising if farmers played classical music to soothe these cows into being the best steak they can be.

Hanwoo beef is only accompanied with salt. Nothing else must constrain the rays of beautiful beef flavor that radiate from each morsel. While many Hanwoo steak barbeque restaurants exist, I would recommend sticking to one and developing a close relationship with the owner. The best way to get the freshest, choicest cuts is via phone call from said owner.

 [Netizen’s Picks]

Supsokeui Jeongwon (숲속의정원, Garden in a Forest)

Enjoy all-you-can-eat hanwoo beef for 1.5 hours. Though this place is hidden away in Gyeonggi-do, there is always a long line for seats. Buffet price varies depending on the cut of meat you order. Prices range from W29,000 to W69,000 per person, plus W3,000 for charcoal and sides. 575 Yeongdong-ri, Toechon-myeon, Gwangju-si, Gyeonggi-do. 031-767-7676

 Yukhoe Zamezip (육회자매집)

This restaurant in Gwangjang Market sells only yukhoe, beef liver and beef stomach. Its market location makes it cheaper than comparable restaurants outside. Yukhoe is W12,000 for a plate. Parking is very limited. Near Jongro-5ga Station (line 1, exit 8). www.zamezip.com 02-2272-3069

 ______Joyce Kong is a foodie blogger who works at MangoPlate, a mobile app for restaurant discovery in Seoul. www.mangoplate.com________