Momofuku maestro David Chang is taking on a new role just for the 2018 Winter Olympics. This week, as NBC’s official food and culture expert during the Winter Games, he’s eating his way around South Korea for your viewing (and eating) pleasure. On Thursday, the network aired his first segment, a culinary tour that introduces Olympic viewers to all the different varieties of Korean food:
“Korean food is really an amalgamation of food from all over the world,” Chang starts off, while he visits a Seoul night market. “You have Chinese sausages, you have Japanese dumplings, you have American roast lobster with cheese. It doesn’t get more multicultural than this. So maybe you’ve tried kimchi or gone out for Korean barbecue, but that’s for beginners. The streets of Seoul offer a next-level way to explore what this country is and was—all served up hot.”
After giving a brief history lesson about colonization in Korea, Chang heads to a truck stop to enjoy a bowl of budae jjigae, or “army stew,” which traditionally has spam, rice cakes, kimchi, ramen noodles, hot dog wieners. (He grew up eating the dish sans wieners.) “It seems like a crazy concoction, but it’s actually a soup or stew that was made out of necessity and resourcefulness, and a delicious one at that,” he says. “This is what I like to eat after a big night out, for sure.”
His next two stops are at a temple, where he goes foraging for vegan ingredients with a Buddhist monk, and then a three-star Michelin restaurant called Gaon, which he calls the “pinnacle of gastronomy” on this culinary tour. “At Gaon, everything about the meal is designed to take you back in time,” he says.
Throughout his tour, David Chang sprinkles in bits and pieces about Korean history and culture, and ends with a challenge to broaden your horizons. “Next time you’re eating Korean food, just realize it’s so much more than barbecue and kimchi,” he says. “You’re only scratching the surface.”