I lived an expat life in Buenos Aires for almost 3 1/2 years and what I remember most (besides the incredible friendships made that will last a lifetime) is of course, the food and wine. I can talk til I am blue in the face about the beef in BsAs but never thought I would have much to say about seafood (other than salmon which is in almost every restaurant in BsAs), let alone Asian food.
BsAs is known for its “Closed Door” restaurants. According to Wikipedia, “an underground restaurant, sometimes known as a supper club or closed-door restaurant, is a social dining eating establishment operated out of someone’s home. They are, in effect, paying dinner parties. They are usually advertised by word of mouth or guerilla advertising, often on Facebook, and may require references to make a reservation. An underground restaurant is also known as a guestaurant, which is a hybrid between being a guest in a dinner party and a restaurant.”
In honor of my friend Chef Mun (@Chef_Mun_Kim) . . . world renowned chef and former co-owner of the now closed Casa Mun in Buenos Aires and in honor of his relocation to Munich to launch a brand new restaurant, I wanted to share my thoughts about my dining experiences.
When Chef Mun opened Casa Mun in BsAs he felt that the country was ready for a better selection and variety of Asian cuisine. In 2010 Casa Mun was born. It was consistently ranked in the top restaurants of BsAs. That is something I can personally attest to.
I have dined on Mun’s food at least a dozen times at his restaurant or at other events in which he catered as I could never get enough. As I anticipate his new restaurant in Munich, I started reminiscing about my meals with Chef Mun.
“I am over the moon. . .dinner at Casa Mun!!”
What is a “closed-door” restaurant? An underground or closed-door restaurant, is an eating establishment operated out of someone’s home, usually the chef. As I have heard others say, it is a lot like paying to be invited to a dinner party. While the concept of closed-door restaurants exist in other countries, I had never heard of them until we came to Buenos Aires. I have been to a few since we moved here but our dinner last night at Casa Mun takes the cake . . .so to speak.
My husband and I, along with a few old friends, shared a very special dinner with a crop of new friends. While the food is Asian themed, I have to say that I ate one of the best onion rings of my life last night. How odd that should be first thing I say about our dinner. 😉 After a champagne reception where we were served Ponce Torres Extra Brut (for which they were quite generous with the pours AND the refills), we sat down for our first course. Chef Mun describes each course with an obvious passion for food and the specific dish he is presenting to his guests.
Our first course was a Tempura Assortment of lightly beer battered deep-fried shrimp and vegetables – carrot, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, sweet potato, eggplant, onion & asparagus paired with a tasty AVE Premium Torrontés 2009. As a lifetime dieter, Tempura is a dish I usually never order as they are inevitably over battered and greasy fried. This truly was lightly dusted (literally just the right amount) and fried to perfection. While each vegetable was delicious, that onion ring really stood out!! As the vino flowed, so did the conversation. While I did know 2/3 of us at our table, it was still an opportunity to learn some new things about some old friends as well as lots of things about some new friends.
Next up. . .sushi. Chef Mun presented us with Chilean Salmon Sashimi & Maki Sushi California Rolls, also served with the AVE Premium Torrontés 2009. To be honest, I am not a huge salmon fan in general (if it isn’t smoked on a bagel or raw on rice. . .I don’t eat it and to be honest, I rarely order it in a sushi joint either) but it is the most common sushi here in Buenos Aires. Tracking down fresh red tuna is a job in itself. But Chef Mun managed to change my mind. While I knew there was more food coming I could have kept eating that all night long.
Next up turned out to be my favorite dish of the night. I have been hearing about fish tacos for quite some time but never tasted one. Just never thought fish and the concept of a taco went together. Well, now I get it. Our next course was Fiery Fish Tacos – Korean style fish tacos with “gochujang” sauce, cilantro relish, julienned cabbage, and jalapeño wasabi guacamole on fresh corn tortillas matched up with a Rama Negra Malbec 2010. You read that right. . JALAPEÑO WASABI GUACAMOLE. HOLY MOLY!! During Chef Mun’s presentation of the dish, he warned us not to let the guacamole touch our lips. While it wasn’t quite THAT spicy. . .it really did have quite a kick. I told Chef Mun that next time he should just put out a bowl of tortilla chips and that guac. . .I would be set!!
Our final “main dish” of the night was a Korean classic, “Korean “Bibimbap” – Sizzling rice with 7-different vegetables served in a steaming hot pot with Chef Mun’s Mom’s secret spicy sauce which they paired with a Universo Austral Finca Roja Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. How do you say yummy?? While hot and spicy, I remember it more of just being delicious with a fabulous finish. It stayed with me for a while. . . but in a good way!!
But wait . . . there is more. Every good dinner should be followed by a tasty dessert. As my friend Lisa and I always say. . .”after sushi, I need a bisel sweet!!” (that is Yiddish for a little bit). The dessert bridged the gap of Asian flavors with Buenos Aires. For dessert we were served a Torta Alfajor Rogel with some fresh berries along with some of the best Green Tea I have ever had.
I am still basking in the glow of our dinner last night at Casa Mun. Looking at the photos I took . . .it is just making me hungry all over again. Cannot wait to go back again and see what is next up on the menu. Chef . . I can truly see your passion for food in the dishes you prepared last night. Thanks again for an awesome evening!!
Once again . . . I am over the Mun!!”
Having reviewed Casa Mun before after my first visit (see above), I felt compelled once again to provide an update after my 5th visit. If I thought my first meal there was spectacular, I don’t even know what words to use to describe my most recent culinary trip to heaven.
The menu (with accompanying vino) was:
Sesame Crusted Tuna Salad with Japanese Dressing (Rama Negra Sauvignon Blanc)
“Imjasutang” ~ Summer Soup of the Korean Royal Family – Chicken, shiitake mushrooms & egg in chilled broth that is a mixture of ginseng, Chinese herbs, chicken stock , roasted sesame seeds & mustard. (Chungha Sake)
Shrimp & California Maki Sushi & Spicy Tuna on Pan Fried Crispy Rice (Bodega Patritti Lassia Pinot Noir)
Momofuku-Style Pork Buns with “Oi” Cucumber Kimchi ( Desierto 25/5 Syrah)
The dessert was different from what was originally stated. . .some sort of Lemon mouse/ice cream something or other (Malamado Malbec Port).
I cannot even say which course was my favorite because as I was eating each one. . .right then and there, THAT became my favorite of the night. But I have to say I was most surprised by the soup. I had read about this soup before but really couldn’t imagine it would be as good as they say. But believe me. . . it was.
I can go on and on and on about the experience at Casa Mun. But I hope the fact I have been there 5 times already, says it all as well!! They recently moved to a larger location enabling an additional 8 or 10 people per evening. But no matter how many. . .it is still an awesome communal dining experience. You never know who you will meet or what you will eat. All I can say is. . .DON’T MISS IT!!
Time to book my flight to Munich!!