One of the most delightful things that may occur during dinner service might be the amuse-bouche, a relatively unknown feature of French culinary tradition that, once introduced, immediately became standard fare. Chefs at many fine restaurants offer guests an amuse-bouche, a bite-sized treat that excites the tongue and delights the eye, before the meal is served. According to Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a popular New York celebrity chef with restaurants around the world, “The amuse-bouche is the best way for a great chef to express his or her big ideas in small bites”.
But the amuse is not necessarily for the fine dining set, if you will allow room here for free movement with the term. Anyone having visited a Korean restaurant may attest to this fact. In Korean restaurants it is almost certain you will be familiar with the word banchan. Banchan are set in the middle of the table to be shared and served in small portions, meant to be finished at each meal and are replenished during the meal if not enough. Usually, the more formal the meals are, the more banchan there will be. Although not traditionally an amuse, the banchan are definitely an offering from the restaurant at no additional cost. The more banchan the more whimsical the meal may become. Perhaps I have over-extended the term, but walk with me. Continue reading