It’s called Galbi, hidden in a small street behind Piazza Fiume, in the heart of northern Rome’s elegant neighbourhoods. The restaurant opened a few years ago and mixes tradition with innovation, design, culture and attention to the harmony of flavors. An open kitchen sets the stage spectacularly, surrounded by sleek wood, long counters, a communal table and a constellation of smaller, more intimate tables. Indeed, we are transported to the heart of North Korea, at least judging by the flavors and aromas.
Its founder is Deuk Uoo Ferretti Min, one of the four children of the beautiful aristocrat Pyung Cha Min, a descendant of one of the last branches of Korean royalty. His mother was forced to flee to avoid the arranged marriage her parents desired, and that was how she arrived in Italy, in 1964, with a scholarship at the University for Foreigners in Perugia. From there, she enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and met her future husband, an economist with whom, after showcasing her sartorial work in Washington, she has four children with.
And here we are at Galbi, the latest project by this chic, radical, sophisticated and reserved family. Their places are a shelter for many of today’s intellectuals, artists and celebrities who take refuge to converse with them in Isola di Eea, a Bed and Brunch hidden among the bush of Monte Circeo, or at Apuleius, the restaurant they opened on the Aventine Hill in Rome, dotted with archaeological remains that were probably artifacts from the Temple of Diana. And, indeed, also at Galbi.
The menu is rife with pleasant surprises and everything is entirely cooked according to techniques that date back more than 200 years: you can travel through their meats, marinated for a long time with various types of spices, or their vegetables, subjected to accurate fermentation, or their barbeque embers that are rigorously made with fine oakwood.
But the apex is achieved by their Korean Ramen: made with beef (with noodles in meat broth topped with chard, beef and egg) or pork (with noodles in meat broth flavored with pork belly, spicy cabbage, tofu and egg), you can choose between various versions, from ones enriched with Kimchi (fermented and spicy cabbage, typical of the Korean tradition, rich in nutritional benefits, whose production process, kimjan, entered into the intangible heritage of UNESCO in December 2013), to the ones with seaweed. Obviously the gauntlet is drawn towards Japan, better known for its Ramen.
Every evening, the selection at the Galbi Cocktail Bar offers Korean reinterpretations of classic western cocktails, making them perfect chasers to their rich and diverse menu.