Back when Sarah Lee and I were putting ideas together for our first pop-up restaurant, our friend Linus gave me a call.

“Joe, it’s interesting y’all are doing a pop-up because I’m working on a secret project myself. I’m doing barbecue.”

Over some drinks a while back, Linus and I got to talking about ideas for future restaurants, and I mentioned that I wanted to eventually bring Alabama style barbecue to Korea. Or at least I wanted someone to. It looks like Linus already had that plan.


He held his first small pop-up in early summer. He was cooking ribs. I liked them. The smoke flavors were there. The sauce was almost there but not quite. Linus was really critical of himself, but we all had a great time.

Then late last month, he held another pop-up restaurant in east Itaewon trying out his pulled pork sandwiches and his improved sauce. I didn’t have a chance to go, but I heard it was crowded, and there was a line.

Yesterday, though, I made sure to make it over there for his third pop-up. There was an assembly line going, butter toasting buns, laying on sauce, portioning pulled pork–oh, the aroma!

A plate with sandwich, beans, and slaw was W10,000. I bought two. Good thing napkins were free. One of my guidelines is the messier the food the better it tastes.

The pork itself was very much like North Alabama, specifically the Decatur style popularized by Big Bob Gibson. I spent my first thirteen years of life in Decatur, so I knew that. The sauce for pork in Decatur, if ever used, is just white vinegar and cayenne pepper. Linus instead used a thicker vinegar-tomato sauce that pretty much nailed the taste of the famous Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Tuscaloosa.

By the end of the evening, I’d eaten three whole sandwiches. Right before the “Sold Out” sign went up, I made sure to get one more for the road.

I had to get one more for my baby girl.

And she downed all the meat and beans on her plate!

If you want to try Linus’ BBQ, he is getting a lot of requests. This weekend, he’ll be at Platoon in Gangnam, along with the cocktail stylings of Southern Sons.

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Joe McPherson founded ZenKimchi in 2004. He has been featured and sourced in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CNN, KBS, MBC, SBS, Le Figaro, Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, Harper’s Bazaar Korea, The Chosun Weekly, and other Korean and international media. He has consulted for "Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain," The Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, the PBS documentary series “Kimchi Chronicles,” and other projects in the UK, Canada, and Australia featuring celebrity chefs such as Gizzi Erskine and Gary Mehigan.Mr. McPherson has written for multiple Korean and international publications, including SEOUL Magazine, JoongAng Daily, The Korea Herald, Newsweek Korea and wrote the feature article for U.S. National publication Plate magazine’s all-Korean food issue. He has acted as dining editor for 10 Magazine and was on the judging panel for Korea for the Miele Guide.He spoke at TEDx Seoul on Korean food globalization, at TED Worldwide Talent Search on the rise of Korean cuisine, and in New York City on Korean Buddhist temple cuisine. The company ZenKimchi International organizes food tours for tourists and corporations and acts as a media liaison for foreign and Korean media and local restaurants and producers.
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