Tapas de la noche: Cariño
Jamon aficionados worship the taste of jamon iberico. The fatty, premium version of Spain's famous dry-cured ham is made from rare black Iberian pigs fed a steady diet of acorns. The resulting nutty taste is the perfect complement to an earthy Spanish red wine.
In Seoul, jamon iberico may be best enjoyed at Cariño, a vibrantly colored tapas bar that floats among a sea of cafés in a Sangsu-dong alley. Given that Cariño is primarily a tavern, the menu is fairly minimal and its offerings are not likely to fill you up. But with a prime jamon leg on display near the register, often half-carved, the eats tend to steal the scene anyway.
Chef Gu-hyun "Jose" Kim is an oenophile who discovered the joy of tapas through his love of European wines. In 2014, he traveled to Spain to study the art of jamon carving, obtaining certification in the skill while there. He has also applied his passion to the exclusively Spanish drink list on Cariño's compact, beautifully designed menu.
Overall, the fare at Cariño looks and tastes indulgently authentic. You should, however, watch for two subtle (and tasty!) Seoul adaptations: First, only the least salty variety of jamon – that is, iberico – is served. Second, the juicy prawns of the gambas ajillo are garnished with tiny, innocent-looking peppers that will kick you in the mouth about ten seconds after you pop them in, so be careful. Or just order lots of wine to wash them down.
Address: 336-16 Sangsu-dong, Mapo-gu
Take Exit 4 of Sangsu Station and make a sharp 180-degree turn out of the exit and walk south for about seven minutes, then turn right after the GS25. Walk another few minutes and Carino will be on your right.
Open: 5 PM-1 AM
The article courtesy of Seoul magazine