Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Curry Town Apprentice in Seoul


I ate some amazing grub at Curry Town about two months ago. The restaurant is tucked away in a typical Korean B1 style building basement. In the dingy, fluorescent lit space there exist four or five businesses which are perpetually empty. Go past the shop filled with miscellaneous boxes, next to the over priced dry cleaner and past the lifeless Korean soup restaurant and there lies the equally empty Curry Town.

The real shame is, it's just the location that is keeping the place from making it big -the atmosphere, food and service are all great! I've wanted to learn how to cook Indian food ever since I lived in little India, aka, Abbotsford BC. Today I simply showed up in my chefs garb wielding two knives and asked to go to work. There was one problem though... there were no customers.

Jay-R and his boss offered me some Chi Tea. Not wanting to intrude, I considered leaving, but then reconsidered, as that is what I always do and regret having done later. Low and behold, as we sat and talked business two Korean women walked in and ordered. I made straight for the Kitchen.

The order: Butter Chicken, Lemon Chicken, Garlic Nan and some kind of Masala Prawn Dish. My first hour, and already I would learn to make two of my favorite dishes. There wasn't much room in the tiny kitchen, as much as I wanted to help I also wanted to stay out of the way. I sat on my perch and took in every bit of information Jay-R was willing to share.

Jay-R is an interesting man who has lived all over the world, he spent 7 years in Iran right after the war. During this time he cooked for a number of embassies including the US and Norwegian Embassies. The money was never great, so he ended up coming to Korea. As I looked on, Jay-R did his dance, throwing in a little extra show for his new apprentice. There were no secrets in his kitchen, he made sure I knew EXACTLY what went into each an every sauce and offered me samples of everything he had made.

I learned more in one hour with Jay-R that I feel I've learned in the last four months, with the exception of my one week photography gig. Indian food isn't nearly as complex as one might think. Here's what I deduced from my hour of observation:

You basically have your primary colors in the kitchen except instead of paints they are sauces. Red, green and blue would be Tandori, Masala, Tomato Sauce and White Sauce (I know... there aren't 4 primary colors but flow with it). Black equals sour, usually lemon juice, and white equals hot, usually Jalapeno pepper. You can make virtually any Indian cuisine by mixing and matching those ingredients. It's that easy... or at least I hope it'll be :)


FlyingBurrito Photography said...

What was the one week photography gig you mentioned in your blog? I am curious because I am a photographer and currently reside in Seoul. My website is


Jayant said...

Where exactly is Curry Town?! I heard about it from someone, so planning to check it out...Gotta check if it is better than "Namaste", because that's where we get the real Indian food, and I'd rate it as the best Indian restaurant in S.Korea...

PS - Aaha, a budding photographer, nice, I myself have just ventured into the field of photography (Korean friend tempted me to try my hand at it :) )...