Korean dramas have become wildly popular in India because of a mixture of reasons, ranging from good-looking casts to the fact that they embrace the gloriously indulgent romantic and dramatic tropes Indians know and love. On the other hand, Korean pop music from the likes of BTS, EXO and BLACKPINK have been topping the charts because of their catchy music. In the lanes of South Mumbai, you'd be hard-pressed to not find a teenager or young adult who's a fan of one, if not many, of these pop culture phenomena. It's no surprise, then, that the end of 2020 brought another Korean delivery service into existence in the tory locale called Seoulmate.
In times of rising uncertainty, we at Team IFN like to not just escape into entertainment and music, but also the comforts of food and sometimes that means Korean food like bulgogi or samgyeopsal. That's exactly how we ended up ordering vegetarian and meat dishes from this delivery kitchen.
Pork Samgyeopsal and Chicken Jajangmyeon
We ordered in with enthusiasm (and this writer's manic desire to eat as many mandu as possible) and had ourselves a little indoor picnic at a colleague's. As we ordered, we immediately noticed one important detail: Seoulmate doesn't have any jiggae (spicy stew) or soups to offer, despite being mainstays in classic Korean menus. However, it's got a wide range of vegetarian options, such as kimchi mandu (a Korean dumpling), two types of jeon (savoury pancakes) and deopbap (a gravy-and-rice dish) along with veggie noodles and fried rice. This is probably fuelled by the awareness that South Mumbai's crowd isn't the kind to exclusively love pork and chicken, as the majority tends to lean towards vegetarian food.
The mushroom bibimbap (a rice dish typically topped with seasoned vegetables, gochuchang and kimchi) and chicken jajangmyeon (a noodle dish in a black bean sauce) were an immediate success with everyone at the table. In fact, we even had a minor tussle later to decide who would take the leftovers home, given Seoulmate's generous portions. Next, we tried the pork samgyeopsal, which came neatly packaged with vegetables, lettuce and pork in separate containers along with accompaniments, like rice, sauce, spring onion, pajori salad, and radish kimchi. It's not often that pork is cooked in a way that it survives a home delivery, but it made it to our table tender and juicy. Shoutout to the dubu deopbap, which was a tofu-based spicy sauce served with vegetables on a bed of rice. Tofu impresses meat-lovers seldom, but here it managed to shine through.
What didn't work:
The kimchi mandu didn't live up to our expectations. While the dumpling skin had the right texture and mouthfeel, the filling—mimicking a cabbage roll—did not leave us wanting for more. The dak bulgogi paled in comparison to the other dishes, like the jajangmyeon. While I fought for and won, the battle for leftovers, I have to admit that the food was lacking the kick of flavours one usually expects from bona fide Korean food. In a country that introduces spicy food to toddlers, why hold back? Bring on the heat.
Delivering a consistent experience, this order from Seoulmate was mostly a hit. While there were some issues, we had to nitpick to identify them. Would we order again, while settling in for a binge session of a new KDrama? With the thought of that jajangmyeon irresistibly stuck in our minds, we have to say, yes.
Sroojana is an award-winning creator of fandoms. Her first love is her mother's rum cake, and her second love is baking cakes just like it. Controversial opinions range from liking citrus flavours more than chocolate, and pineapple on pizza - she WILL fight you on this, as long as you're not asking during a binge-session of Korean shows or food.