The brunch menu at Agustin Kitchen features mostly traditional brasserie-style fare with consciously-sourced ingredients. A not-so-traditional menu item, the Korean-inspired Duck Bi Bim Bap ($15) stands out among the crowd.
Bi Bim Bap literally translates to “mixed rice,” and is traditionally made up of rice, meat (beef is popular), assorted fermented and fresh vegetables, and a poached or fried egg. The reimagined Bi Bim Bap dish at Agustin Kitchen is far from traditional, and features confit duck.
Originally used as a way to preserve meat in absence of refrigeration in medieval France, Agustin Kitchen takes confit in a different direction. The French food staple goes bold with a bright blend of Asian flavors.
The confit process involves a salt dry-brine and slow-poaching the duck in its own fat, working some of that fat and flavor into the meat itself. The process, when done well, ensures that the duck is well seasoned and fall-apart tender.
Agustin Kitchen gets this right. The confit duck is shredded and drenched in a thin, sweet sauce with a laundry list of ingredients. The overarching flavor comes from hoisin sauce and veal stock with warming notes from Chinese five spice and cinnamon.
While the duck is clearly the star of the show, the veggies and fried egg play important supporting roles. Nestled next to the duck confit are the house-made Brussels kraut with caraway, a julienned carrot and cucumber salad, and sauteed winter greens (this time it was Swiss chard). All the components are served over a heaping portion of brown rice and topped with a fried egg, microgreens, and bright swirls of gochujang, a Korean fermented chili sauce.
It should be noted that the crispy skin often seen with duck confit was absent from this dish, but with the fresh crunchy vegetables and the chew of brown rice provided a wide range of contrasting textures.
Each component is delicious on its own, but tradition dictates that all the components should be mixed and eaten with chopsticks so that each bite is a combination of flavor and textures.
Start by piercing the yolk from the egg and let the yolk run down into the bowl to combine with the sauce, rice and a large chunk of duck meat. The sweet sauce and yolk create a perfect silky texture coating the duck. Take a bite and savor it. This is the bite that will make you want to dig in for more, and it’s only the beginning.
The Duck Bi Bim Bap is only available on the weekend brunch menu, but it’s worth getting out of bed for.
Agustin Kitchen is located at 100 S. Avenida del Convento, Ste#150 and can be reached at (520) 398-5382. For more information, visit agustinkitchen.com.