Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Colossal Sandwiches at Deli Heinzburg on Garosugil


I've been frequenting Deli Heinzburg over the past year.  I hadn't been there in quite some time so I went back recently for what I remembered to be great sandwiches.

Deli Heinzburg is trendy.  Petit-framed hipsters wearing pants so trendy they're cut at oddly non-functional lengths to reveal a wanton peek at bony ankles tucked into boat-stitched suede driving shoes.  Couples so trendy they have Missoni Bugaboo strollers for their ugly babies.  Plenty of couples looking lovelessly into each others' eyes but looking splendidly smashing while doing it.

I arrived in style wearing a tarp (my oversized jacket) and flip flops so worn down my foot is the only thing keeping it together.  (We can discuss later why I dress like a homeless person.)

Pretty much every time I come to Deli Heinzburg, I have to wait for a table.  It's popular for a reason.  The interior melds perfectly with the ambience they're trying to create.  The most prevalent theme seems to be authenticity.  Or rather, perceived authenticity.


Deli Heinzburg doesn't mean anything.  Heinzburg isn't a quaint German town brimming with freshly baked artisan breads and homemade pickles.  Nor is it the name of a legendary sandwich artist.  But it is the name of the world's most widely consumed ketchup.  Stick a -burg on there, and you have yourself a marketable restaurant name the upscale Korean community will flock to with the same tenacity in which they embraced the LV Speedy 30.  

Deli Heinzburg fortifies their theme of "authenticity" with decor - park paneled wood shelves stuffed with oils and pickles made in-house.



In addition, they also offer baked goods to take home so customers can attempt to recreate the meal they've just happily injested.


The best, perhaps least-known, part about Deli Heinzburg is their selection of meats and cheeses.  Such offerings are no more impressive than your well-stocked grocery store.  What is impressive is the prices.  I have a suspicion that the goods on sale are merely there to reinforce how "authentic" Deli Heinzburg is.  Anyway, no one's buying their imported meats and cheeses except to be consumed on the spot in sandwich form.  I know this because the first time I came to Deli Heinzburg, they were fully stocked wth a wide variety of impressive cheeses.  Since then, the cheese variety has dwindled down to nothing but your standard bries and gorgonzolas.  As a result, the prices are heavenly especially for their older cheeses, and if you bargain, you can get the prices lower.  *Gasp!*  Bargain for cheese in the illustrious neighborhood of Sinsa-dong?  I already look like a homeless person; no harm in carrying through in true vagabond fashion.


I took two of these babies home for a little over 11,830 won each. (normally 18,000 won).
 I also got some fantasticly pungent and amazingly silky "Bresse Bleu" for 8,000 won.  For those of you who don't know what "Bresse Bleu" is, it's a kind of blue cheese from the Rhône valley.  It's creamy and smooth like brie but has the punch of gorgonzola.  It's perfection.

After I was through marching around the restaurant with the self-importance of a specialty foods buyer, I was finally seated.  The menu is vast and mouth-watering.  It's also translated into English, German, French, and Japanese.  What irks me are these translations.  I don't think they have an overwhelming French or German customer base to justify having the menu translated into these languages.  I'm sure it just looks better to have French/German words dancing across the menu.  For example, Noel and I ordered a trio of sandwiches; one of which was the mushroom panini.


I had to translate the French into English in order to determine what three kinds of mushrooms were going into my panini.  I'm guessing "ormeaux de champignons" means oyster mushroom.  I'm not even sure a Frenchman could have figured that out since the real French translation for an oyster mushroom is "le pleurote."  I've seen lots of Korean menus translated into English fraught with errors.  It's kind of cute and oftentimes, hilarious  (who wants a "jack and cock"?).  Regardless of the mistakes, the need to translate from Korean to English actually exists.  No one needs Deli Heinzburg to translate their menu into French (or German) and embarrass themselves in the process.  

To begin, the sandwich is beautiful.  All the sandwiches at Deli Heinzburg are a sight to behold.  They're big, bold, and bountiful.  Your retinas will be dazzled.  And for 8,000 won, it's a crazy good deal, especially in this neighborhood.


The taste of this sandwich is good, but there are flavor issues.  The mushroom panini is an orgy of shiitake, cremini, and oyster mushrooms.  The sweetness of the oyster mushroom combined with the rich, buttery meatiness of the shiitake and the smoky earthiness of the cremini is a good balance.  But the strong whole-grain mustard and the Grana Padano (poor man's Parmigiano-Reggiano) conflicts sharply with the mushrooms.  The mushrooms need a gooey-er, gentler cheese like a milky mozzarella or even a piquant goat cheese.

The second sandwich was "The Troika" (12,800 won) which is meat lover's medley of roast beef, roasted turkey and corned beef.



I love meat.  I liked this sandwich.  Though the meat was dry especially the corned beef, I enjoyed this sandwich.  Who doesn't love the combination of whole-grain mustard and three kinds of deli meat?  The cheese of choice seems to be the Grana Padano.  They serve it up on all their sandwiches.  Lucky for them, the sharpness of the cheese worked with saltiness of the meats.



Finally, we feasted on the "Honeycomb, Fruits and Ham" sandwich.  This sandwich is weird in the best way possible.  There's pineapple, banana, apple, and REAL honeycomb smashed into a rippled bed of good ham.  It's a confusing but tasty combination of savory and sweet.  Every time I get it, I'm like, "Eeeee...this looks weird.  Like some gender-confused Korean concoction...I onno...."  But my taste buds are rewarded without fail each time.

In sum, Deli Heinzburg is a great sandwich place.  It's annoying that they add 10% VAT and that you have to get up and shuttle your own food when your number is called.  This is Sinsa, not a dingy food court.  (Princess moment over.)  Experiment with their menu.  They have access to quality meats and cheeses so anything that comes out has to taste good (at least).  If someone ever tries their Baked Alaska, be my guinea pig and tell me if it's worth the high price tag.

To get here, take exit 8 out of Sinsa Station.  Make a left right after you pass NongHyup Bank.  Keep walking down until you see Deli Heinzburg on your right.

Deli Heinzburg can be found on MangoPlate, a restaurant discovery app available in English and Korean.

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