Ten of us from the ate dinner at Bewon last night. Chris, the proprieter was very generous with us, coming out and explaining in detail each dish, its cultural and gustatory significance. He also talked about his choices for the very reasonable wine pairings. He got the Han Jung Shik and tried everything.
I really enjoy Bewon. Everything is handled so exquisitely. Flavors are generally very well balanced. And things I don't expect to like, I do.
Some of the standouts for me last night were:
* The japchae, sweet potato noodles, as always, which he says they simmer in a light mushroom broth.
* The gu jeol pan, like miang kum for Thai, little crepes that you build yourself with eight different foods that represent the eight regions of Korea.
* Hobak juk, a three potato porridge with with a nice bit of sweetness from honey.
* The su jeong gwa, a cinnamon-ginger "cider" of sorts. So perfectly balanced.
* The chi ge, 9 different seasonal side dishes (he gave us 11), among which the crispy-fried seaweed with sweet rice was fantastic. I also really enjoyed the spicy kim chee, the black beans with walnut, the squid, and the slightly sweetened potatoes.
Honestly, Bewon probably isn't my favorite Asian food in Portland. But I think in many ways they deserve to be called the best because of the obvious care they take with each item and the obvious love they have for their own food. At $25, the 7 course han jung shik ($40 with wine pairings) is a great deal. You get soup and the 9 sides as part of your main course, too, which makes it in many ways more like 17 courses (and they'll replenish your sides).