Blog

That’s all for now

We’re writing with some news to share. This Monday’s pop-up at PekoPeko Ramen will be haenyo’s last, at least for the foreseeable future. We will stay in Baltimore but our focus will begin to shift to new projects.

When we started this thing in May of last year, there was no agreed upon end-game. We wanted to start something, try to do it well, fail, succeed and see where it led. We wanted to share food, to travel, and prove to ourselves that we could build something worthy. Things feel ok knowing we accomplished what we set out to do.

Thank you to the restaurant owners who kindly, if not foolishly, welcomed us into their kitchens. Thank you Andrew, Ran, Matt, Brian L., Brian O, Stu, Ricky, David, Dylan, Evan, and Roseann. If not for you, we don’t get to do any of this.

Going out on your own takes some courage. But from day one, we knew that our own lack of experience would be offset by an inpouring of support. We were right. Whenever we needed it our friends (and families) stepped in and offered us their time and attention. They wouldn't let us fail and at times that was demanding work. Our deepest gratitude to Hana, Justin, John, Maeve, Gerald, Cai, Christine, Caroline, Michael, Sabina and many others for having our backs. You made it all worth it.

Finally, we want to thank you. You're part of a relatively small group that came to our dinners and sustained our business over the past 18-months. We’re extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to cook for you and we sincerely hope that this is not the last time we intersect. And with that, we’re inviting you to join us for one last haenyo dinner: A goodbye. We’ll get started tomorrow at 5 p.m. and go until we sell out.

Memories abide and we’ll keep in touch.

Love,
Collin + Irvin

noisy meals

A few weeks ago, we sat down for dinner at a Korean restaurant. The dining room was loud, not from music or a noisy kitchen, but from other guest's voices -- talking, laughing. At every table there was a discussion, often more than one, sometimes food related and other times not. Friends, families and coworkers were together spatially and in spirit. We agreed that this is what mealtime ought to sound like.

There’s a reason why Korean meals have sonic resonance. Traditionally, when gathered for a meal no one has their own food, there is only the food. Arranged are dishes belonging to everyone and no one alone. And in order to get what you want you have to speak up, ask questions, and clink plates as you pass to the left and to the right. The sound is significant, but what it represents is more important. It’s a reminder that a meal is more than what’s served.

A curious thing happens when we take a more individual approach to eating. When we have ‘our plate,’ gone is the biological imperative to be social. Everything we need is in front of us, unobstructed. The loop is closed, so please leave me to my food. But when sharing you wonder, “Did everyone get enough?” or, “Did I have too much?” I believe that the reflex to consider others is strengthened, if not born, at the table.  And the outward focus achieved through sharing an antecedent to a more meaningful discussion.

The combination of good food and good people has a fixative effect on memory. We hold onto these memories so we can relive and replicate in the future. When I reflect on meals where conversation flowed effortlessly and evenly, there’s a common thread – we shared what we ate. More than the food, the connections left us feeling sated. Our brain’s reward system accepts all kinds of currency.

Many of us are lucky enough to address our caloric needs with relative ease. With this luxury, we tend to sacrifice some of the cooperation and togetherness that once defined mealtime. But with some forethought and planning, we can to revert to a better and noisier way.