What remained of the animal - a few fat-laden morsels of succulent sirloin - were tossed into an empty plate, and our server removed the charred grill, still steamy hot, with her bare hand. With her other hand, she nestled a nickel silver pot on to the glowing bed of charcoal, flattening the lava-like wood pieces to balance the pot.
Dents all around, scars and scrapes both in and out, the pot looked as though it had been tossed around for decades. But as the contents began shivering from the charcoal's heat, the true beauty of this dish came out. Locally handmade kimchi aged for weeks, fatty chunks of meat pulled from beef ribs, and more hot peppers, garlic and scallions than all those that appeared in all of Anthony Bourdain's shows, combined. This is simply the best kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew) in Korea.
Nestled in a corner of the bustling port city of Busan, Uhnyang Bulgogi, as its name suggests, is famous for some of the best bulgogi in the country. Come for the beef, but stay for the kimchi jjigae, as the locals do. The rib meat adds unprecedented depth and heartiness to the broth, and the premium kimchi is aged to perfect sourness, to compliment the spice of the peppers and garlic. Watching a bowl of this boiling atop a glowing bed of charcoals is an added food porn bonus you will never forget.
So when visiting Busan, sweat through this fiery liquid gold. Or if you're grilling this weekend, throw a pot on those charcoals and create some magic yourself. Bon appétit.