Upscale Korean restaurants in New York City have now concocted their own adaptation of ram-don, the noodle dish that had a starring role in “Parasite.”
Regularly consumed by non-Koreans, the dish has been as popular recently as the Oscar-winning movie itself, according to chefs in New York. And many who order the jjapaguri special are non-Asian, one chef told NBC Asian America.
"Most of our customers are non-Asians — typically white — so I feel like initially people are always curious what jjapaguri is," said Simon Kim, owner of Cote — a Michelin-star Korean restaurant that has been serving its $18 ram-don since Oscars season.
An alchemy of ramen, udon and steak, the dish is a spin on the traditional Korean dish jjapaguri. It combines the cheap ingredients of two Korean instant noodle brands, Chapaghetti and Neoguri, with the not so cheap ingredient of premium sirloin.
Price tags have ranged from $13.95 to $25, chefs and restaurateurs first told Eater. The irony of paying upward of $20 for an inexpensive dish featured in a film looking at wealth and class is not lost on its restaurateurs.
The price tag is justified, Kim said, because Cote doesn’t charge for the actual noodles. The cost only accounts for their housemade broth and a large portion of the American wagyu beef.
Esther Choi, owner and chef of the Brooklyn Korean restaurant Mokbar, added that she currently serves ram-don with housemade noodles. It “wouldn’t make sense” to serve instant noodles at an upscale noodle shop like hers, she tells Eater.
Twitter was quick to praise these restaurants for adopting the grifting characteristics that "Parasite" embodied in the first place.
Kim says his customers appear to be true fans of the director and the movie and that many who haven’t grown up with the dish just want to try it.
Kim says the dish is from his "childhood" and he's grateful to share it with other people, regardless of their identity. “I’m sharing a part of myself with them,” Kim said.
But if you’re looking for a cheaper version, we took a stab at cooking our own "Parasite" noodles in the office.