Star Cluster - the Cheese Place

There is a pretty darn good fondue place in Pyongyang - Cafe Pyolmuri (Star Cluster, in English). OK, so this isn't exactly news, in the sense that it isn't new or important in any grand sense, but it is both of those things to us, because sometimes when you're in-country for awhile, all the restaurants start to look the same. 

"A Group of Stars", not red, not five-pointed.

"A Group of Stars", not red, not five-pointed.

Pyolmuri has been around for awhile, we'd just not heard of it. Indeed, TASS reported on fondue back in 2011

And apparently, Adra, an aid organization run by Swiss Adventists, opened a Swiss café a few years ago, serving cheese fondue. We're not sure if this is the same place, but since this restaurant has plenty of booze, we'd have to guess that maybe it isn't an Adventist joint.

The genial owner, who has business cards in English claiming an Italian restaurant specializing in dairy foods, told us that Italian chefs had trained the local staff. Indeed, their pizza was pretty tasty, though not as good as the fondue. (Still, pine nut, mushroom and spinach is a pretty cosmopolitan option.) One of our Swiss trainers on our last trip to Pyongyang was even allowed to poke around in the back to see how they do it. He was particular about fondue, but gave his official stamp of approval - "It's not home, but pretty good for what they have to work with."

Something in common with regional friends - see the Pictures of Asians Taking Pictures of Food Tumblr

Something in common with regional friends - see the Pictures of Asians Taking Pictures of Food Tumblr

They use a white wine base (no Kirsch around these parts) and a blend of imported and local goat's cheese, which had that pleasant 'goaty' tang to it. We're not sure where the goat's cheese comes from as there are several goat farms in the country. The DPRK began focusing on goat husbandry in the early 2000's to provide dairy, inspiring the "All Families Should Extensively Raise Goats" campaign. A decade ago, GRS started work on a goat farm, too. 

As part of the campaign, Kim Jong Il made numerous visits to goat farms in the 2000s. Here's a video about about a 2008 visit, in case you are not very busy for the next 11 minutes:

Whatever one thinks of the 'extensively raise goats campaign', the cheese sold at Star Cluster to take home is quite good, if not cheap: 17 USD per kilo.