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3 Catt. 2: In re Seoul Food

2011 November 3

JEREMY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Cart. CATTLEYA, J., delivered a separate concurrence.

Some weeks ago—never mind how long precisely—I looked up from the Tupperware perched atop my dress pants, having just finished a ham and cheese sandwich and two clementines, to see a bright pink truck parked across the street. Knowing well my duties as a Justice of this Cart, I donned my robe, donned my freshly-powdered wig, and dutifully resolved to eat a second lunch. Purely in the interests of law and justice, of course. The things I do for thee, o, gentle reader!

We granted cartiorari in this case to once more review Seoul Food (“SF”), a “mobile gastronomic enterprise.” My sister has previously reviewed SF’s Korean Superbowl in chambers. See In re Seoul Food, 3 Catt. 1 (2011). Though that case ended in a remand, my sister noted there that, in the future, “[she] will return again, but when [she] do[es], [she]’ll stick to the more traditional bibimbap on the menu.” Id. We follow that wisdom in the present case, limiting ourselves to the question of SF’s “more traditional” bibimbap.

SF’s bibimbap is described as a “large bowl of sticky rice topped with mixed baby greens, carrots, daikon radish, red radish, a cage free sunny side up egg, and your choice of meat.” (A lovely Thai chili, whose skin shimmered bright red in the midday sun, also graced the inside of my Styrofoam container.) Your protein choices are three: (1) “Korean marinated local grass fed skirt steak” ($8.50), (2) “Korean marinated local chicken” ($7.50), and (3) “Korean marinated organic tofu” ($7). (Once again, “tofu,” though at times quite delicious in this Justice’s experience, is wrongly denominated “meat.” Cf. In re TaKorean, 1 Catt. 4 (2011).) Your bibimbap “includes your choice of mild soy sauce based sauce or spicy pepper paste sauce.” (The latter is alternatively described as “Korean chili” on the side of the truck.) We opted for the skirt steak, paired with SF’s alluring “spicy pepper paste sauce.”


Beef Bibimbap

I begin with the verdict. In a word: Fantastic. And two more for you: Highly recommended.

Egg. I’ll begin with the egg, because the egg is the star of the dish. I am quite a fan of the egg. I like mine runny. My perfect egg is perfectly poached. A 63-degree egg is a thing of near unrivaled beauty in the pantheon of proteins. But a precisely executed sunny side up, with its gently crisped underbelly and a still runny yolk is likewise a marvel of ovoid mastery. SF’s egg was marvelous. Since first tasting it, I have not ceased speaking of its wonders to the eager clerks who crowd the marble halls of this Supreme Cart. The underbelly of the egg was the result of an exquisite fry. The yolk flowed, upon puncturing, like the mighty Yellow River, unleashing its viscous, golden treasure o’er the sticky rice and the skirt steak. I stand in awe of any egg that good. I stand in even greater awe that such an egg could be so perfectly prepared within the limited physical confines characteristic of a “mobile gastronomic enterprise.”

Beef. The beef, as we indicate above, is “Korean marinated local grass fed skirt steak.” It is also delicious. It is tender, but has some of the chew expected of Korean-style beef. It is marinated in a delightful Korean barbecue marinade.

Rice. The glutinous rice was nicely glutinous, with a bit of crunch around the edges. I am certain my sister, renowned as she is for a certain childhood foible involving sticky rice paired with a certain American tomato-based condiment, will have more to say about the quality of SF’s preparation. See, e.g., In re AZNeats, 2 Catt. 3 (2011).

Korean Chili. The “Korean chili” derives from a “spicy pepper paste sauce.” It is, I believe, gochujang, a sweet and spicy chili-based condiment and yet another example of the wonders of fermentation. Cf. TaKorean, 1 Catt. 4. Gochujang may very well become the next Sriracha. You heard it hear first. (It is also reputed to have certain health benefits, so, here’s to your health!)

Namul. As noted above, the dish comes with “mixed baby green, carrots, daikon radish, [and] red radish,” in addition to a Thai pepper for garnish. I sensed some pickling. The freshness and the crunch of the vegetables pairs nicely with the rest of the dish, providing a welcome brightness and an interesting contrast.

Seoul Food

Seoul Food

Other Considerations. The dish is quite sizable. (Though I had already eaten a full lunch of a sandwich and two clementines, I still managed to devour the entire dish. It is that good. It is so good that one eats past that little voice in one’s stomach which, in a soft, sweet voice, insists, “Stop eating, sir! You’ve had quite enough for one afternoon, your Honor!”) At $8.50, I’d say it’s a good deal, considering the quantity, the quality of the ingredients, and the loving expertise of the preparation. (And considering that egg, dear God, that perfect egg!)

As I’ve said before, and as I’ll say again, SF’s bibimbap is “highly recommended.” It is fantastic, amazing, incredible. It is emphatically the province of this Cart to decide the case or controversy before it, “to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). It is perhaps well beyond the scope of those duties with which we are charged to dictate those precise future actions individuals not now before this Cart shall take. Nevertheless, I feel I must say to our readership: Get thee to SF come noontide next!


CATTLEYA, J., concurring.

Seoul Food’s beef bibimbap was “fantastic, amazing, incredible.” As much as it pains me to agree with the Chief Justice, I must. But it comforts me to know that he would not have discovered this food truck treat had I not suggested it in an earlier in-chambers opinion. See In re Seoul Food, 3 Catt. 1 (2011). My dear Chief Justice, you are very welcome.

Now, Chief Justice, I have one small question. Your opinion talks of the “eager clerks who crowd the marble halls of this Supreme Cart.” I do not have a single clerk serving in my chambers. Have you assigned them all to yours? Do they polish your silverware and fold your napkins into swans?

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