A short walk from Corso Buenos Aires in Milan, at via Nino Bixio 21, there is an authentic family-run Korean restaurant that will make you feel pampered as at grandma’s house. I went there with my friend Nicole and together we had a chat with the affectionate owner.
Once inside, we found ourselves in a comfortable environment with warm tones. Exhausted by a long walk under the sun, we were immediately greeted with fresh water and excellent green tea.
Taking a look at the menu, we immediately find that it is very focused. The owner himself tells us that it is constantly evolving since it follows the seasonality of the ingredients. Among the appetizers, ginmi of various ingredients (including those with really tasty artisan kimchi), ciorong and mandu. Among the main dishes there are great classics such as arari, bulgoghi, bibimbab but also surprisingly Korean tempura (very difficult, if not impossible, to find) and cod fillet. There are also soups (duenjang guk, yukejang and kimchi guk). We are recommended according to our tastes and our curiosity, here we go out of our way to relax the customer. The dishes are explained in a meticulous way and when they arrive at the table the freshness feels for real.
Full and satisfied, we discover the history of this Korean restaurant. The owners, husband and wife, arrived in Italy in 1983 but neither was involved in catering: the husband was in fact an established fashion designer and his wife (Chiara Boo, the chef of the restaurant) was a well-known soprano. Both had made careers in their respective professions until the turning point in 2002. When it came time to return to their hometown of Seoul, they decided instead to stay in Milan. Advised by close friends, they decide to start their own business and start a business. Once the space is found, in 2003 they open a shop in Via Raffaello Sanzio 16 where they will stay for 10 years. Initially they were involved in the sale and transport of ready-to-eat Japanese and Korean foods. In 2010 they turned it into a small restaurant. During all this time, the restaurant becomes very well known and appreciated. But from then they decided to close for three years: this event severely undermines the name that had been made in Milan, especially in terms of visibility. The owner explains:
Reopening was quite tiring, but the genuineness of our kitchen was once again the key to our success. Many newspapers have been interested in us and in fact we have had several publications.
But that’s not all. We also talk about Korea, how important it has become in the world market, how fast it is and how Italy has very important fixed points that should not be underestimated and lost:
Korea is a different country from other Nations, unique in its kind because it has the ability to understand the world and to do things a third of the time compared to others. This can definitely be good, but in all these years that I have lived in Italy I realized that here there is a great value, that of respect for tradition. Italians always look suspiciously at the novelty and accept change in a gradual way. This is a good that you should not lose. Similarly, Arirang Plus, whose name is a classic term as of a traditional song from the past, wants to present an essential, true and authentic cuisine. Our dishes are cooked at the moment, the ingredients are fresh and carefully selected.
And this love of detail and the desire to do your best is definitely palpable from Arirang Plus. Just like getting a caress.