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Bohemian Italian in Itaewon
Pasta knows no boundaries at Instant FunkBy Korea Herald
Published : July 26, 2013 - 20:21
And from the minimal box-like structure of the nearly all-glass space, down to the colorful mix of chairs and tables, it is evident this new eatery is going to be anything but boring.
Situated a good stroll from Noksapyeong Station in foodie-friendly Itaewon, Instant Funk brought its no-holds-barred grub to the masses this May.
“We wanted to make food that was laid-back, that you could eat with your hands,” said Instant Funk executive chef Park Chan-il.
Park, who trained in Italy before establishing his high-profile chefdom at numerous Italian restaurants in Seoul, took on his latest adventure with a determination to eschew formal, white tablecloth dining for a casual, “comfy” experience.
That aesthetic is fully reflected in Instant Funk’s food, which Park refers to as “food with an attitude.”
Take the establishment’s fried eggplant and tomato sauce bibim pasta, for instance. At first glance, it looks relatively straightforward, al dente linguine smothered in a light meat ragu sauce and topped with thin wands of fried eggplant.
A pause is necessary for a reconsideration of the name of the dish ― which has the Korean word “bibim,” to mix, in it.
It is called bibim pasta because one can take those wands of eggplant and swirl it in that silken, slightly tart sauce, wrap those strands of pasta around it and then eat, enjoy the crunch of the eggplant, the richness of the sauce seeping into everything, followed by the chewy bite of the linguine.
“Its like tteokbokki and fried food,” said Park, 48, referencing the Korean street food custom of buying spicy rice cakes and adding some deep-fried squid, deep-fried sweet potato and the like to the dish, letting the hot red sauce coat each crisp morsel with its piquant sweetness.
“When the fried eggplant meets the meat sauce, it is similar to how the fried tempura mingles with the sauce and rice in the dish called tendon,” said Park, referring to the Japanese donburi dish of tempura over rice. “That was the basis for my dish. When you mix the eggplant with the sauce you get a new taste.”
Instant Funk’s tripe pasta, which features shell-shaped pasta in a tongue-tingling tomato sauce jazzed up with peperoncino, is another dish that exemplifies the establishment’s tasty and fun approach to food.
While the inspiration for the dish is Roman, the way the slightly soup-like sauce pools up into the hollows of the shells for a spicy, juicy bite, brings to mind the nose-clearing heat of chili-seasoned Korean hangover soups.
“Our food is not bound to a single country,” Park summed it up in one sentence. “It is just food that tastes good.”
● 1F, 2F, 34-105 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul/ (070) 8811-6444
● Open 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily
● Appetizers cost 10,000 won to 19,000 won, pasta 18,000 won to 23,000 won, main dishes 42,000 won to 130,000 won
By Jean Oh (email@example.com)
Articles by Korea Herald
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