When it Translates Into Fire Meat, You Know it Means Business

Todays News

The spicy pork bulgogi from Korean Ssam Bar shows how a good cut takes simple to sublime. Photo by Andrew Fabian.

The problem with most dishes that feature sliced or diced pieces of meat is that cheaper cuts are often used. This leads to dishes in which the dryness and toughness of the meat must be masked with copious amounts of sauce or spices. While incredible sauces certainly deserve commendations for the heavy lifting they do in turning mediocre meat into something mesmerizing, Korean cuisine suffers no such problem.

That’s not to say that Korean sauces are lacking by any meaningful metric—they’re complex, balanced, rich—it’s to say that even their stir fries spare no expense when it comes to meat selections. Korean bulgogis—a word that translates literally into “fire meat”—use rich cuts of meat known for their characteristic fat content. A beef bulgogi most commonly is made with sirloin or ribeye, while a pork bulgogi is most commonly made with pork belly. At Korean Ssam Bar on 301 just North of 12th Street, the spicy pork bulgogi shows how big a flavor can be attained in such a simple dish when a good cut of meat is used. The stir fried plate has all the umami of the most unctuous tonkatsu ramen, all the complexity of a slow-braised short rib ragu, and just enough kick to get leave a lingering tingle. But it’s the fat from the pork, tender to bite and rendered into silky goodness, that makes this particular bulgogi exceptional.

Try it for lunch, when it comes in at a paltry $9. Sit-down diners also get an assortment of kimchi and small bites.

Korean Ssam Bar, 1303 North Washington Boulevard, Sarasota.

The spicy pork bulgogi from Korean Ssam Bar shows how a good cut takes simple to sublime. Photo by Andrew Fabian.

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