Baos and Bread Rolls Get Messy at Chef Boo Kim’s Dirty Buns SOBO

Chef recommends: Ditch the fork, knife and dig in.

Shraddha Varma

Chef Boo Kim likes to keep things messy. Don’t believe us? Watch our video with the expat chef. The contemporary, comfort food at Dirty Buns SOBO, is all about making a merry mess.

Kim became a regular on Mumbai’s party scene during his three-year stint in India as the chef de cuisine at One Street Over and Bastian. He returned home to the US in September 2018 with a promise to come back. After a five-month long sabbatical, he was back in 2019 to launch his passion project, Dirty Buns, under the aegis of Aallia Hospitality, the same company that runs One Street and Bastian, a favourite with Bollywood denizens. At Dirty Buns, you are served dishes from Kim’s hometown Chicago, influenced by his South Korean origin and time in India; in a setting that’s eclectic, with graffitied walls, a life-sized disco ball, a classy bar, and a neon pink sign that provokes you to ‘get dirty’.

LF caught up with chef Kim to know how he’s having fun getting dirty!

Messy Food is My Mojo
The menu at Dirty Buns is what he ate growing up in Chicago. Dirty, because that’s how your face and hands will be once you eat one of these indulgent dishes. Think mac and cheese rolls, butter poached lobster bao, fries loaded with housemade sauces, and mud pie pancakes. “I’ve grown up eating store-bought boxed mac n cheese and homemade Korean-style fried chicken. No matter how bad my mood, these foods are a great pick-me-up. It’s easy-going, has bold flavours. It’s messy yet comforting, food that you can indulge in any time of the day.” Diners are encouraged to ditch the fork and knife and eat with their hands.

Mushroom Teriyaki Bao

Not without my South Korean heritage

“I learned to cook from my grandma, mom, and sister so there’s a South Korean influence in whatever I cook. I do it on purpose, it’s my heritage, my roots and I like to get people familiar with these flavours,” says Kim. From grandma he got his passion, and from his mom and sister, the intuition to fuse flavours. “Whenever I would go back home, all three of us [Kim, his mom, and sister] would have these fun competitions to make different versions of the same dish.”

The dirty cocktail menu

Kim teamed up with Afzal Kaba, brand ambassador, Diageo, to curate a bunch of signature cocktails—old and classic favourites with a twist. “Sure, we’ve got your pre-prohibition style cocktails such as French 75 and Old-fashioned on the menu, but with the kind of experience we wanted to create at Dirty Buns, I knew we needed something more. That’s where the idea for dirty cocktails emerged,” shares Kim. This exclusive drinks’ list kicks off with the chef’s creation: the dirty buns martini, which, unlike the classic martini, comes with pickle juice, lime cordial, and dill leaves. Meanwhile, the casual dining bar’s version of the Bloody Mary is made with fresh tomato puree and comes topped with a bao. Are we impressed? Hell yeah!

Getting behind ‘Boo’s Crew’

On his quest to find a little of Chicago in Mumbai, Kim kick-started Boo’s Crew. “Back home, every Thursday, my friends and I would visit one of our own restaurants to connect over food and drinks. That’s our way of supporting each other. Boo’s Crew was born out of this very idea, and then we polished it to make an IP,” he says. Boo’s Crew will collaborate with chefs to create menus and exchange culinary wisdom, while providing a unique dining experience to the guests.

Eating out in Mumbai

He’s yet to explore India well, but Mumbai is his go-to city for food, says Boo. Idli, dosa, sev puri, pani puri, bring it on! Where? Neelam Foodland, Khar, and Dakshinayan in Juhu, he says promptly. 

Inside images courtesy: Dirty Buns


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