If you're looking for Seoul food and a place to eat, arrive early at Ssamthing Together
Over the past few years, the cosmopolitan food scene in Bangkok has relentlessly been entertained by Korean culinary culture.
Ssam, or to wrap the meat in vegetables, is typical to Korean barbecue dining.
The K-food popularity has covered several market sections in the city, from snacks, desserts and beverages to noodles, fried chicken and tabletop barbecue grill.
Actually, eateries serving Korean-style grilled meat have been well-loved by Bangkok diners for decades.
But it's just recently that you may simply tell from their names what type of diner the proprietors are targeting. A new generation of bulgogi restaurants, usually with a phonetic pun name that suggests convivial gathering, has emerged in the city to cater to younger, fun-loving crowds of foodies.
Ssamthing Together, this week's subject of review, is included.
Opened four months ago at Megabangna, Ssamthing Together is a new Korean barbecue restaurant by homegrown Maguro Restaurant Group.
The word ssam in Korean means wrapping and refers to the DIY bite-sized delicacy of meat and condiment wrapped in leafy vegetables.
Ssam is a very typical Korean barbecue experience. Diners enjoy the grilled meat by wrapping it together with side items and sauce inside vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage or sesame leaf.
In Korea, eating ssam is a fun feast that also signifies good fortune. It is believed the bigger you open your mouth to eat ssam, the more prosperity will come into your life.
I was visiting Ssamthing Together, located on the 2nd floor of the Food Walk zone in Megabangna, at lunchtime on Monday.
Despite the usual Monday slow, and interestingly amid the local alert of Omicron, the restaurant was phenomenally busy.
Rameon noodle hotpot accompanies the premium barbecue set.
Customers, mostly families and young adults, kept pouring into the 104-seater decorated with LED neon signs and enlivened by belated Christmas pop tunes.
I was told that a long line of customers waiting for the restaurant to open at 11am is common on weekends when the place usually keeps busy until closing time.
A meal here is basically enjoyed through set menus of beef and pork. Options include premium beef set (789 baht), premium pork set (699 baht), Together set of premium beef and pork (985 baht), ultimate Wagyu A5 set (999 baht), regular beef set (539 baht) and regular pork set (359 baht).
Each comes with the expected set of small dishes, known in Korean as banchan, that are always refillable, including kimchi (spicy preserved vegetables), namul (steamed vegetables seasoned with sesame oil or soy sauce), fresh green chilli peppers, garlic, lettuce and sesame leaves as well as a selection of sauces such as savoury sweet gochujang chilli sauce, salted sesame oil and Thai-style jaew sauce.
The Together set that I had features beef belly marinated in fruit-based barbecue sauce, black Angus striploin, pork belly cured with pink Himalayan salt, pork shoulder marinated with gochujang sauce and pork jaw. To help wash the meat down is a large hotpot of rameon noodle soup also to be cooked on your table.
Your DIY barbecue can be ensured with cooking perfection through grilling service, automatically provided from the beginning to the end of the meal by the staff who also suggest which meat cut goes best with which sauce.
We very much enjoyed such service, although it is offered upon availability of the crew at the time.
For beef fans, there's also selection of a la carte items including Matzusaka Wagyu, Akita Wagyu, Australian Wagyu, short ribs, oyster blade, small intestine and beef tongue. Pork eaters are offered options such as pork bulgogi, pork ribs, pork jaw, smoked bacon and marinated diaphragm.
If grilled meat doesn't fit your appetite, there are a nice collection of side dishes, soups, rice bowls and noodle dishes on offer.
Best-sellers are bibimbab (rice casserole, 155-199 baht depending on your choice of topping); japchae (stir-fried glass noodles, 129 baht); milky beef cheek soup (249 baht); buttery egg souffle with mozzarella topping (150 baht); Korean-style truffle risotto (95 baht); tteokbokki rice cake with cheese (225 baht); and spicy soy sauce-cured she-crab (350 baht per crab).
Desserts are limited to Korean-brand ice cream sandwich and ice pops.
Briskly attending the dynamic dining room was a team of 15 service staff who were always prompt to please.