This could be the best or worst of times to be a tartare lover. Every new menu seems to include a version (thanks, faddish protein diets!), and to stand out, many chefs feel compelled to commit terrible, unspeakable acts, like adding foie gras, puffed quinoa or six varieties of grain mustard. The tartare at Leemo Han’s latest spot sounds no less wrong: he combines ruby slices of beef with squid sashimi, Asian pear, a sprinkle of sesame seeds and (the one nod to tradition) quail egg yolk. Instead of toasts, there are sheets of nori. Against all odds, it works brilliantly. Getting away with culinary mash-ups is Han’s thing: Vietnamese-American at Pinky’s Ca Phe and izakaya-meets-McDonald’s at Hanmoto. Here, he’s importing kimchee, ssamjang and gochujang into Central and South America (tacos al pastor, beef rib grilled parrilla-style over charcoal). I fell hard for a potato mash mixed with roasted kimchee, eggplant romesco sauce and a fried egg. It’s breakfast for dinner with a chili kick that calls for another cocktail—bourbon, lime and sparkling Korean rice wine in a milkshake glass.
Seoul Shakers, 1241 Bloor St. W., No phone, @seoulshakersclub