Often outshone by Japanese Wagyu beef, Korean beef has flown under the radar outside of its own country. However, Mugung Hanwoo Beef Specialist, a Korean restaurant in buzzy Soho, is looking to change this by introducing Hong Kong meat lovers to the refined taste of premium Korean beef.

Historically reserved for royalty and the elite class, Hanwoo beef is perhaps one of Korea’s best-kept secrets and is rarely exported. In particular, the 1++ premium grade of Hanwoo beef is revered for its intense meaty flavour and exquisite marbling.

Mugung Hanwoo is the first restaurant in Hong Kong to specialise in this type of beef. To give diners the most authentic taste experience, the restaurant imports whole cattle from South Korea’s prized farms, and its Korean meat specialists expertly butcher the animals in Hong Kong to ensure minimal waste. Each slab of beef is then wet-aged in-house for over four weeks to intensify its tenderness, flavour and juiciness.

Classically trained chef Kim Seungwoo prepares the prized beef in a variety of dishes, with special attention paid to searing the top blade, outside skirt and thick skirt cuts, parts coveted for their flavour and rarity, as they make up only one to two percent of an entire cow.

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Seolleongtang, or beef-bone broth ($148), is characterised by its flavourful and creamy consistency. The milky broth comes from hours of slow-cooking beef bones with an assortment of aromatics. Mugung Hanwoo’s version is cooked in South Korea and flown fresh to Hong Kong owing to South Korea’s regulation against the export of Hanwoo beef bones. We tried this unique bone broth and found it soothing and satisfying yet relatively light.

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The grill is heated to 230°C before any grilling can start. Our server actually used a temperature sensor to zap the grill in order to get that optimal cooking temperature. We sampled a variety of aged Hanwoo beef, out of which we highly recommend the rib-eye ($200 for 100g). Buttery with snowflake marbling, this cut of beef melted in the mouth and had a robust, beefy flavour – more flavour, we dare say, than the highly marketed Japanese Wagyu. The coveted outside skirt ($240 for 100g) cut had delicious texture, which gave the beef more chew and an even more intense flavour than the rib-eye.

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The braised beef short rib ($228) had more robust beefy flavour, although less seasoning than similar dishes we’ve had at other Korean restaurants.

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We’re excited to see Korean beef in Hong Kong; we’ve been craving its robust marbling since we first tasted it at Wang Bi Jib in Seoul during our Food Nomad expedition. Carnivores can get a free upgrade to an even more exclusive range of Hanwoo beef, classified as aged 1++, when they order a beef barbecue platter at Mugung Hanwoo from now until 31 August 2018. Now, that’s something to chew over!

33 Staunton Street, Central, 2505 1723

This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.

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Editor-at-Large, Jetsetter Food Nomad

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