Category: Restaurant Reviews

Spacca Napoli

I’ve always been one for balance, so as I posted about a healthy salad place earlier in the week, I thought I would treat you to some pizza for the weekend. Last week one of my old friends got me in touch with a friend whom will be visiting Seoul very soon, and she asked me what I thought of the places she planned to try. Spacca Napoli was the one she were most excited about, and I had to admit I had never even heard of the place. After a quick search on the net,  my most trusted food resources came up empty too. However after seeing the pictures of the pizza online I quickly realised it was worth investigating, so I gathered myself up and a few of my unsuspecting friends and headed to Hapjeong.

The space is on the second floor of a building a short walk from Hapjeong station, if you were walking past you’d have no idea of the treasures that can be found inside. The restaurant itself is very spacious and has a real open plan feeling about it, you can even see the traditional wood fired oven in the corner and the chefs making your pizza.  There are plenty of tables and lots of light from the big open windows, it was the perfect spot to enjoy a nice lunch. Once seated we were given a menu and complimentary basket of garlic bread. It has been so long since I enjoyed garlic bread so I was thrilled at its appearance as it such a rarity in Seoul.

The best way to test the muster of a pizza joint is by the Margarita (19,000), and this one did not disappoint. While I’ve been to Italy, I have never travelled to Naples, so I am in no way an expert when it comes to Italian pizza, in fact what you get differs from region to region. But this pizza was everything I was looking for and more. The the crust was puffed up and sinfully chewy. I’m not a huge crust eater but even I couldn’t resist this one, I would love to have their recipe! The pizzas were baked in their wood fired oven, and topped with the freshest tomato, basil and mozzarella. The simplicity of the ingredients truly sang,  I definitely didn’t feel like I was in Kansas(or Seoul for that matter) anymore, but somewhere on the Med. Such a treat.

being a white pizza addict, I couldn’t resist the Funghi Bianco (21,000). A white pizza consisting of cream, mozzarella, mushrooms, and extra virgin olive oil. This combines my two favourite ingredients cheese and mushrooms, so I was pretty much in heaven. If they added truffle oil it would be orgasmic. There was plenty of cheese on this and again the crust was awesome.  I think of the four pizzas we ordered this one was the clear winner for me by far.

For a meatier twist we ordered the Diavola (21,000). A mix of fresh san marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, salami, and pecarino. This one had a touch of spice in the sauce and would have been adored by my beloved if he had been at the lunch. The slivers of salami were lovely and crisp, thile there was lashing of the rich tomato sauce underneath.  As well as the pizza they also offer a handful of salads and pasta dishes, but we didn’t end up trying those as we stuck with the pizzas.

Overall I was really impressed by this place. The pizza was fantastic, and I can’t believe no one has ever mentioned this place to me before. They recently opened up a second location in Sinchon too. We were all absolutely stuffed for 20,000 apiece and still had a couple slices left over. So if you like Italian pizza it is not to be missed, and well worth the trip across town.

Spacca napoli is located at 2F, 28 Yanghwa-ro, 6-gil, Mapo-Gu, Seoul. To get there, take a train to Hapjeong Station (line 2 & 6) and come out of exit 5. Take the first left and then follow the road around. You will see Spacca Napoli on your left hand side on the second floor. For more information you can call them on 02-326-2323 or check out their facebook page. They are open Tuesday – Sunday from 11:30am – 10pm.

Bad Farmers

I do love a good salad, so I am rather thrilled that after many years of living in Korea trying to dodge cabbage and corn monstrosities covered in kiwi or strawberry flavoured dressings, that salad joints have become a trend. Despite the name of my blog I really do try my best to stay healthy so having options like this available makes life a lot easier, especially when you eat out as much as I do. One of the first places to open and get in on the healthy eating trend was Bad Farmers, which I had always heard great things about but never visited until now. So when I met a friend in the area for lunch, I knew it was time to give it a try.

The restaurant itself has a very natural aesthetic. Everything is made of of wood and invokes that earthy wholesome kind of feeling. One of the highlights for me is the gorgeous outside seating area, it was a very hot day but under the umbrella we were very cool and content. However for those who don’t like to dine alfresco there is seating inside too, though when we arrived we advised we would have a short wait until a table became available.

The menu consists of half a dozen salads, some open sandwiches, and cold pressed juice. I make my own fresh juice every morning so decided to skip the drinks and just go for the salad. The Guaca Green (11,500) was our first choice and consisted of sprouts, avocado, lime, nacho chips, roast chicken, cherry tomatoes, and red onion. I really liked this one, as it reminded me so much of the Taco Salad  I used to make frequently. There was a great mix of  textures, and I adored the cilantro jalapeno dressing too. With the salads we were given a small cup of corn soup and some bread, which was not necessary but certainly appreciated.

After much deliberation our second choice was the Shrimp Bowl (11,500), which was a mix of Cajun shrimp, romaine lettuce, kale, grapes, cucumber, corn, red onion, lemon and cherry tomatoes. It came a side of cucumber yogurt dressing. The shrimp in this were really tasty, and the grapes added pops of sweetness. However the dressing was a bit lacklustre with this one. I was hopping for something reminiscent of tzatziki but it was a bit watery and flavourless. I’d probably go for one of the other salads next time instead.

Overall we enjoyed the salads. I didn’t try the juice this time but I do know they are sold in GS marts for a fraction of the price, so maybe try them there first to find your favourite flavour.  The place is really cute and I’d happily go back if I was in the area. If you plan to go on the weekend I would go early, as you may have a long wait once the crowds arrive.

 

Bad Farmers is located at 523-21 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sinsa Station (line 3) and come out of exit 8. Walk straight then take the second left, walk to the end then take the next left street which is diagonal and runs parallel to Garosugil. Take the sixth road on the left by the 7-11 and then the next right. You will see Bad Farmers straight ahead. For more information you can call them on 02-515-8400, or check out their facebook page. They are open every day from 11am-9pm.

Lobster Bar

Lobster Bar in Itaewon just celebrated their 3 year anniversary, it truly is insane how quickly time flies these days. It seems like only last summer that they opened up in their first location on the hill, and had hordes of hungry patrons queuing up to get in on the new lobster roll trend.  To celebrate this momentous occasion and keep things fresh they have added some new items to the menu. They kindly invited me along to give them a try, and I was powerless to resist, I mean who says no to free lobster right?

One trend that isn’t going away any time soon is burgers, so putting a new lobster burger on the menu was a very savvy idea. The lobster burger (17,900), certainly looks very impressive, and will look very attractive on your Instagram feed. After taking about 18,000 pictures of it, I finally got to lock my lips around the mighty mound. The burger itself pretty tasty, and it remained firm despite the tower of ingredients topping it.  While I enjoyed the lobster and cheeseburger combo, I wast sure about the addition of the jalapeno mayo as I think it took away from the flavour of the lobster. There are plans to add a few different versions to the menu in the next few weeks, so I think they could come up with a few interesting options.

As well as the burger, we also tried the Spicy Bang Bang Shrimp (9,500). I was really happy to see this on the menu, as Bang Bang chicken is a dish I always order from the Chinese takeaway back home, so was pleased to see it here in Korea. We both really enjoyed this dish. The crispy battered shrimp were large and juicy and the spicy mayo sauce was very moreish. The shrimp were on top of a pile of rice and lettuce, so you could easily eat this as a main dish to yourself, or share it as a starter.

We also got to try the new Fried Crab Popcorn (9,000). This was a giant paper cone filled with tiny deep fried crabs. They made the perfect dish to snack on while we were enjoying our drinks, especially when dipped into the accompanying chili mayo. I thought they made a an interesting addition to the menu as they differ from the spicy Korean style.

To drink I of course had to order my favourite cocktail, the Tropical Berry Punch (15,000). This drink is all kinds of blackcurranty fruity goodness and is a highly addictive tropical treat. I also think it has grown in size since my last visit too, which is never a bad thing.  TFB was rather boring and stuck with a pint of Great White (9,000), however their drinks menu is actually pretty varied and has quite a selection including rather cheap bottles of spirits if you are dining with a large group

Overall we had a great dinner, and it is always nice to return to an old favourite. The menu has been kept fresh and and it is clear that Lobster Bar really cares about their food and keeping their customers coming back. I’m glad to see that they are expanding their range of seafood, while still keeping their most popular items like the lobster sandwiches on the menu. If you are hankering for some shellfish, then this is the place to get it.

Lobster Bar is located at 56-13 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-Gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (line 6) come out of exit 4 and walk straight, keep going until you reach Mcdonalds. Lobster Bar is on the 3rd floor just above Starbucks. For more information you can call them on 070-8225-3963 or check out facebook page.

Mishmash

 

I first came across Mishmash when a good friend posted pictures from their dinner. It really doesn’t take much to get me excited about food, in fact even just a fleeting glance of something vaguely edible will do it. But after seeing a picture of the biggest galbi rib I have ever seen, it knew I had to go and give it a try and added it to my list of places to eat at.  A mere two days later another friend recommended Mishmash, at the time I was just in the midst of organizing a dinner for a visiting friend and knew that the modern Korean fusion style restaurant would be the perfect place to take them. The neighbourhood bistro is located just away from the main road, down the Hangangjin end of Itaewon.

We arrived on one of the hottest days of the year, and quickly refreshed ourselves with the provided cool wet towels, it was not necessary but an incredibly welcome and thoughtful touch. We then moved on to the bottle of Chablis (70,000) which revived us even more. They offer both set course menus and a la carte. We opted for the five course set menu which was a very reasonable 65,000. The four course is 47,000 while the the three course was 35,000.

We kicked off the dinner with a fish course of thin slices of lightly cured sole, charred gwarri pepper, garlic and chogochujang caviar. I’m not a big fish eater but this was so fresh, not a hint of fishiness. The onion oil married so well with this dish, and you could really taste the slightly sweet char from the pepper. The caviar was resplendent little bursts of mildly spicy gochu that left a whisper of a spicy tang. It was a very refreshing dish indeed. We then moved on to the chicken lollipop, which were tiny pieces of fried chicken tossed in spicy yangnyeom seasoning. I adored these, the only shame being that there were only three, thankfully we were also given two lovely plump barbecued shrimp, and a bowl of bouillabaisse as well. I wish I could show you pictures of every course we enjoyed but we would be here all day.

You’d have thought that three starters would be enough for most people, but not our group. We decided to order the Galbi Raviolo (15,000) as an extra dish, as we had heard it was not to be missed. This duck yolk dumpling was stuffed with braised short rib, and served in a puddle of brown butter, green onion sauce and chili oil, and was topped with pine nuts and deep fried mushrooms. I was expecting this to be really rich, and while it was, it was also incredibly satisfying. The tender braised beef was very sweet, but the slight sharpness from the onion, and spice from the chili oil really helped cut through it. The toasted pine nuts really added an extra texture too. I’m glad we added this one on to our order.

The main event was the Beef Short Ribs. These bad boys were spice rubbed, cooked sous vide for 24 hours, and then topped with pine nuts and and ginseng flakes. We carved these up like butter, they were so incredibly tender and the meat melted in the mouth. The rub itself was slightly memorable of a Chinese style spare rib, and though it was tasty, it would have been even better if the flavour had been more intense. This came served with a traditional Korean pot (gamasot) of garlic rice, and some banchan style veggies. It was a very filling course, though I still of found the room, and lack of dignity, to gnaw the bones clean.

I really thought we had ordered enough food, but the Chef and owner Minzi seemed to disagree and sent over a complimentary order of Fried pickles with Doenjang Aioli (8,000). Oh my god were these pickled chilies incredible. The light batter encasing them was extra crispy, and the pickles themselves has a really nice tang. I could have eaten a never ending supply of these bad boys, especially when dipped into the doenjang aioli, which was the ideal accompaniment.

For dessert we had a gluten free chocolate cake with coffee and nut frosting, and caramel ice cream. I was expecting this to be a battle of flavours but it all really worked and I found myself shoveling it down, despite being rather full. A very nice way to end the dinner. Overall we enjoyed a fabulous meal at Mishmash and I was really blown away by the creativity of some of the dishes. For modern Korean, it is very hard to beat at this price point. In fact I’m not sure how they are really turning a profit because the food was so incredible. It is a true gem of a place, and the perfect spot for a date or nice meal with friends.

Mishmash is located at 739-18 Hannam Dong, Yongsan-Gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Hangangjin station (line 6) and come out of exit 3. Walk straight and cross the street whenever you get a chance. Then take a left at the Bun Cha place. At the next intersection take right, you will see Mishmash located a little way up on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-6465-2211 or check out their facebook page. They are open for lunch at 11:30 – 3 & dinner from 6-10 Monday – Saturday. 

NY Burger & Bagel – Hannam

When it rains it pours, all my favourite burger joints seem to be opening up new stores, clearly the new burger craze isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact it isn’t just Korea, burgers are booming all over the world, my Instagram feed is filled to the brim with burger porn. So recently my favourite Itaewon burger place Itaewon the Burger opened up a new shop in Gangnam, and now my favourite Gangnam burger place NY B&B has opened up a place in Hannam, how will I ever decide which one to go to? Thankfully I was invited to the soft opening of both so didn’t have to choose.

NY Burger & Bagel is at the higher end of the burger spectrum in terms of price, class, and quality of ingredients. They only use USDA Prime beef in their burgers. While the Gangnam space is cute quaint and rustic and a step away from the soulless Gangnam haunts, this new version really puts the New York back into NY B&B. The space is very large, which is unusual for this part of town, there is a long bar running against one wall, and huge floor to ceiling walls against the other. In between is seating for about 65. The light filled space makes it perfect for brunch, hopefully one of these days I’ll get to try the bagel part of the name.

It had been a long week, and what with the heat wave we are suffering right now I was in desperate need of a drink. We kicked off with the Hand & Malt Hard Apple Cider (8,000), which was uber refreshing and the only thing to drink in summer. We also had the Gin and Earl Grey signature drink (10,000), a strong and refreshing tea infused gin concoction. While the taste wasn’t bad I still think it needs a little finessing to get it right. We visited during the soft opening so they were still tinkering with a couple of the items, however I was glad to see that this location is serving cocktails.

On to the burgers, my favourite of the NY B&B burgers is the Wasaaabi, but as we were invited to try the new ones we kicked off with the Bruchetta ’bout It (14,500). This baby was topped with mozzarella cheese, bruchetta tomatoes, and homemade aioli. Being one of my favourite appetisers, I was interested how this would work out as a burger. The sweet and juicy chopped tomatoes were the perfect topping for the tasty and well seasoned beef patty, with the creamy aioli this was really a dream burger and very well balanced in terms of flavour. One thing I’m loving about this location is that the burgers come served with fries, which is rare in this city. We upgraded from the free plain ones to the parmesan garlic fries for an extra 1,500, which was worth every penny in my opinion. The other burger we tried was the Uptown Girl (16,500), a burger topped with avocado, pepper jack, lettuce and tomato. When I first tried it, this one seemed a bit lacking in taste for me, so I asked for a slice of bacon which really kicked it up a notch, it could also benefit from a slightly spicier mayo. We got this one served with the Chili Cheese Fries (4,500 upgrade). These were awesome, some of the best I’ve had, the chili had an really tomato-ey chili topping which was super tasty. Not sure which fries I liked best, so I would recommend you get both!

For those poor souls who like to live a carb-free life, you may be interested in the Atkins Slider Trio (17,5000). This came as a trio of sliders, the wasabi, the bruchetta, and roast beef. The mini wasabi burger was topped with shiitake mushrooms, grilled onions, pepper jack cheese and wasabi mayo. This little beauty was just as good as the full sized version I previously reviewed.  The bruchetta was just a mini bunless version of the burger above. However the real star of this dish was the roast beef. This was my favourite by far, and the most amazing roast beef I have ever had in Korea. The pink slivers of juicy beef were sat in a puddle of super scrummy gravy. It was so good I wanted to lick the plate clean. I will definitely be trying the full-sized roast beef sandwich in the near future for sure. The only way they could improve this dish, is if they served them all inside mini buns, though I guess that would kind of defeat the point.

Despite our groaning bellies announcing we were full, we still had to have dessert. We opted for the Orange Dreamsicle Float (6,000). I loved the creamy orange combo. It was sweet and tangy all at the same time. It was a superb way to end the meal and a great way to beat the heat.

Tonight is the Grand Opening of the new NY Burger & Bagel so they are having a special event, a Bruchetta burger and fries, or Chicken Club Sandwich and fries for only 10,000 won. There will also be live music. This offer is for tonight only, so if you don’t have dinner plans it is the perfect place to go.

NY Burger & Bagel Hannam is located at 744-5 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Hanggangjin station (line 6) and come out of exit 3. Walk straight and cross the street whenever you get a chance. Then take a left at the Bun Cha place. At the next intersection take another left, and then keep walking down that street, you will see NY B&B in the new big black building to the right, the entrance is tucked away round the corner but you can’t miss the signs. For more information you can call them on 02-592-7992 or check out their facebook pages. The store is open 10:30am – 10:30pm Mon-Sat, and 10:30-9:00pm on Sundays.

Plant Cafe & Kitchen

As it is summer and we’re all showing an ungodly amount of flesh at the moment, I thought it might behove me to share somewhere that is a little bit more on the healthy side. So today, I will talk about the amazingness that is Plant, the vegan cafe and kitchen. Plant has been a stalwart of the vegan and vegetarian community for years, however their home was a tiny little place in a back alley location that you would never come across unless you were looking for it. Just recently they have moved to much bigger premises, which can fit a lot more hungry vegans. The old location is still there, and is now being used a Plant bakery.

The new plant restaurant is located in the old Left Coast location on the furniture street in Itaewon. They have really transformed the space and made it feel very homely with their plants and cute cushions while at the same time making it feel light airy and slightly tropical. I was getting a real Bali kind of vibe going on. The menu like the new location has grown too, and has some great new additions to it.

We started off with a drink each. I went for the Mango Coconut Smoothie (7,500), this was divine and a taste of tropical bliss, though I found the addition of coconut milk made it a touch on the pricey side. My fellow pals got a Kombucha (6,500), and the Power Green Smoothie (7,000)  which is made with soy milk. I know that many people struggle in Seoul to find coffees and drinks that are made with dairy free milk, and at Plant they have options with both soy milk and almond milk, which should be music to lactose intolerant ears.

My favourite dish of the day was the fabulous BBQ Jackfruit Tacos (12,000). These are the vegan version of pulled pork and while I have had them before elsewhere, these ones were by far the best I have ever had. The shreds of Jackfruit were charred on the outside and tossed in a tangy BBQ sauce. With the cabbage slaw and salsa and chips on the side they were very filling. I’m pretty sure that if no one mentioned it to you, you would have no idea they are meat free. Unfortunately they are only available on Tuesdays, so you will have to plan your visit accordingly if you want to try them.

For my lunch I ordered the Sesame Peanut Soba Bowl (11,000). This was a wooden bowl filled with soba noodles, sesame-peanut satay sauce, fried tofu cubes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, green salad, and pickled slices of carrot and radish. The peanut sauce was very morish and I found the tofu was a nice change from chicken while the noodles were very filling. A good hearty lunch for sure.

Lastly we got the Plant Cheeseburger (12,500). There are three kinds of burger on the menu, but this one is my friends favourite. This one comes with the Plant veggie patty, vegan cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, pickled cabbage, sriracha aioli, and yellow mustard. I tried a bite and have to agree it was really lovely, the bun in particular was very good. This one might be even better than the vegan burgers they serve at Huggers. It also comes with a nice helping of fries on the side, because lets face it, who wants a burger without fries?

Overall we had a very enjoyable lunch. The tacos in particular were really something special, so I’ll certainly  be visiting again on a Tuesday. The new space has a great vibe and is very relaxing, and I’m sure absolute haven for the vegans of Seoul. Though we didn’t partake this time they also have some incredible vegan cakes and their previous location is now a full time vegan bakery.

Plant Cafe & Kitchen is located at 117 Bogwang-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (Line 6) and walk out of exit 4, turn back on yourself and take the road on your left (the street where Taco Bell is) and walk straight. Keep walking on the same side you’re on for about 150 meters, Plant is on the right on the second floor. For more information you can call them on 02-749-1981 or check out their facebook page. They are open Mon – Thurs 11am – 9pm, Fri + Sat 11am-10pm, and closed every Sunday.

Itaewon the Burger Gangnam

It took me a long time and many meals to find a burger that I love in this city, and I finally found it at Itaewon the burger. It is by far and away my favourite burger joint in Seoul, and it is clear that I am not the only one who thinks so as they have just expanded and opened a new location in Gangnam. Knowing what a fan I am of their food, they invited me and a couple of my bestest friends to come and give the the new menu items a try.  The new place is huge and located on the second floor of a building in Seolleung, it’s bigger, brighter, and more colourful than the sister store. I always find it difficult to find good places to eat when I am in this part of town, so I am sure people are out rejoicing in the streets about this new addition to the neighbourhood.

The big speciality of this new location are these amazing freakshakes, which are sadly not available in Itaewon. So far there are three on the menu: The signature shake being the Swag the Party (13,900), a peanut butter shake topped with half a sweet shop. The glass is encrusted with MnMs, and topped with marshmallows, wafers, peanut butter cups, caramel sauce and a giant ass lollipop. This one is definitely for the sweet toothed among us and a total sugar rush, pro tip, you can get a salted version which is even yummier. The shake itself was lovely and if you are sharing between a few of you, I’m sure you’ll have fun doling out the candy between you.

As well as the Swag Party there is also the Toasted Marshmallow Mount (10,900), a chocolate and hazelnut milkshake which was topped with toasted marshmallows, hazelnuts, cookies, wafers and peanut butter cups. This one was my favourite, as I adore hazelnut, it was kind of like a giant Ferrero Rocher. Last up is the healthiest shake, the Avocado and Banana (10,900). This was a mix of vanilla, banana, and avocado. This one I wasn’t quite so sure about. I often enjoy a bit of avocado in my green smoothies as I like the creaminess but as a flavour all by itself I wasn’t convinced. My two dining companions liked it more than me though, and the slices of fresh avocado must make it worth about a billion dollars by itself.

The burger menu is the same as at the Itaewon location. My favourite of all the ones I have tried is the Big Double Burger (13,900). It consists of 2 x 140g beef burgers, 2 rashers of bacon, 2 slices of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion,pickles, and a healthy slathering of mayo . It has been a couple of months since I last had one but after retasting it, I was glad to find that it lived up to all my expectations. When I bit into it, it got a loud and resounding Mmm. It was the favourite of both of my dining companions too.  The burgers here are flame grilled, which is probably what makes them so great in my eyes, and gives them a healthy edge on the competition.

Since my last review the Avocaddict (13,900) has been added to the menu. This is one serious burger, and I have tried it on a couple of occasions over the past few months. It is absolutely monstrous and you will have one hell of a time trying to eat it, just check out my Instagram video if you don’t believe me. This really is an avocado lovers dream, and as you can see they aren’t chintzy with the avocado. Avocado and bacon is always the perfect combination, throw it on a burger and it is party time. While it is jolly hard to eat, it is blooming tasty, the beef and avocado make such a good match. They also serve a version in a lettuce wrap instead of bread for anyone who wants a lighter option.

The other new item we got to try was the Bacon Cheese Fries (6,900). I have never been a fan of the fake cheese-like paste that Americans seem to be fond of. But these were awesome, not sure if it was the bacon, the fake cheese or a combination. They were just uber rich and salty, and we polished them off pretty quickly. The crunchy chunks of bacon were very plentiful, it was such a great sharing dish.

By the time the three of us has polished off this mountain of food, we were fit to bursting, which is always a good sign in my book. If you keep eating even though you are full it always means the food is good. The new restaurant is a great addition down in Gangnam. Other than Firebell there really aren’t a whole bunch of western burgers in this area, so hopefully it will prove to be very popular with the locals. The space is great, and I’m told reasonably quiet at the moment on the weekends because they mainly cater to the office crowds. So if you trying to get away from the madness that is Itaewon on the weekend then this is your place.

Itaewon the Burger Gangnam is located at 33, Samseong-ro 85-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.  To get there take a train to Seolleung station (line 2), and come out of exit 1.Walk straight then take the third right. Walk along this street then take the second left. You will see Itaewon the burger a little way down on the right hand side on the second floor. For more information you can call them on 02-565-8940 or check out their facebook page. They are open Mon – Sat from 11:30am – 9:30pm with a break from 3pm-5pm.

The Beastro Brunch

No your eyes are not deceiving you, after years and years of producing poor quality images on my phone, I have finally gone and bought myself a proper camera. As the blog has just turned 5, I thought I should treat myself to a little birthday present. As luck would have it, the day after the new camera arrived,  I was invited back to The Beastro to try their new brunch menu. After having sampled new Head Chef Steven’s dinner menu, I knew I was in for a treat so couldn’t possibly turn down a chance to check it out. And as it turned out, their beautiful food was just the right subject for me to practice my new skills on.

One of the most exciting new items on the menu, are their giant cocktail jugs, especially since one of them is Pimm’s (35,000)! Nothing says summer like a jug of Pimm’s, so I’m so excited that there is a second location in Seoul serving it up. This one is a lemony twist on the classic version which is usually made with strawberries ,orange, cucumber, and mint. While the lemon isn’t quite usual it certainly makes it much more refreshing. They also have pitchers of margaritas for the same price. We shared this between four of us, and we had at least two drinks each, probably ten in total so it is great value.

The first starter that we shared was the Grilled Piri Piri Jumbo Shrimp (12,000) which is actually from the dinner menu. The five jumbo shrimp were marinated in a Korean red chili & bourbon hot sauce, charred on the grill and topped with lime and parsley. These were absolutely incredible, the sauce was so full of flavour that it penetrated though the shells. They were spicy and sour all at the same time, and so good that we were fighting over the last one. Chef Steven told me they also do a chicken version on the lunch menu, which I’m imagining would be just as good. Nando’s fans should seriously check it out, especially since the Portuguese restaurant Taverna has shut down.

Our second starter was the Grilled Calamari (16,000). This was served with a brown butter dressing, capers, anchovies, cherry tomato, olives, and arugula. The calamari was also a firm favourite, and perfect for the summer. While I wasn’t quite sold on the tentacles as I found them too chewy, I loved the softer chunks of the body. This dish was so light and refreshing. With a handful more salad leaves it could easily become a very filling main dish.

Being a particularly boozy bunch, we made short work of our jug of Pimm’s, so ordered another round of drinks. You can’t do brunch without Bloody Marys and Mimosas (both 10,000), so we had to give them a try. The Bloody Mary is particularly well made here, and I loved the fact they asked how spicy we would like it, which is always a plus in my book. The mimosa and Moscow Mule went down a treat too. I also appreciate that all of the brunch cocktails are 10,000 a piece, meaning it is much cheaper for day drinkers like myself to get a good buzz going on.

For the main event we moved on to the more brunchy part of the menu. While everything we had was lovely, the undeniable stand out was the Salt House Beef Pastrami Hash (16,000). It was made with the locally smoked pastrami by Salt House, roast potatoes, caramelized onion, roasted peppers, and was topped with two poached eggs. This was just the perfect combination of ingredients in my eyes. The crunchy roast potatoes were punctuated by salty chunks of beef, while the caramelized onion and balsamic dressing provided a tangy sweetness. I could happily eat this for brunch every weekend for the rest of my life.

We also tried the Beastro Breakfast (16,000) – two eggs any style, with thick cut house cured bacon from Salt House, breakfast sausages, home fries, baked beans, and Pain au lait toast. The breakfast was fine, but not as obnoxiously amazing as the hash, I think those looking for a fry up should be pleased though.  Another popular option on the brunch menu is the Salmon Eggs Benedict (15,000).  This is served with a choice of house smoked salmon or Salt House Jeju ham, cheddar scone, home fries, two soft poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce. The salmon was melt in the mouth, but with a flavour that overshadowed the rest of the dish somewhat, I’d be interested to try the Jeju ham version next time to see how it compares.

And last but not least, was the Pain Au Lait French Toast (16,000). As french toast goes this one was very similar to how I make it at home, so I was very happy. It was topped with Blueberry compote, Grand Marnier Butter, toasted almonds, and maple syrup. This made the ideal dessert, I was thinking it might be a bit heavy, but the french toast was almost custardy in the middle and it ended up being much lighter than expected, especially as there was a hint of lemon running through it.

I was in no doubt that we were going to have another amazing meal at The Beastro, but it was nice to confirm that standards haven’t slipped since the new head chef Steven has taken over. The Beastro is an incredible place, in terms of location and their menu, so it is great to see they are keeping it fresh. The conservatory style top floor is the ideal place to enjoy the glorious weather while still being in an air conditioned environment. If you haven’t been here to sample the new menu, you’re missing out!

The Beastro is located at  358-32 Seogyo Dong 2F, Mapo Gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sangsu station (line 6). Come out of exit 1 and turn back on yourself. Keep walking straight for about 5 minutes until you reach the Hongdae Park. Walk up the stairs till you reach the road that runs parallel and you should see The Beastro on the 2nd floor above M.A.C (Make-up and great food!!!). For more information call 02-334-2500 or check out their facebook page.

Casa – All you can eat Pizza Aperitivo

Unfortunately Casa has gone bankrupt, and despite their best efforts have closed their doors for the final time. If you are looking for good nd affordable Italian try Brera

 

I first went to Casa Antonio, an Italian restaurant in Itaewon about 6-7 years ago for friend’s birthday. I didn’t go back, not for any reason in particular, I just didn’t. Since then, Antonio has left and he took his name with him leaving his wife with the restaurant Casa or Osteria Pizzeria Casa to use their full name. In all the years I have been blogging, 5 to be precise I haven’t heard anyone mention this place and it was on the verge of closing, when a fellow Italian restaurateur stepped in to give them a bit of advice. It is always sad when a long time restaurant in Itaewon closes its doors, and it was so nice that Brera despite being a competing restaurant have offered their assistance. It is one of the many reasons I love that place so much. To get people in the doors they have started doing  a new Aperitivo promotion, all you can eat pizza for 15,000 per person. Regular readers will know that I would never pass up an opportunity to eat as much pizza as I can, especially for such a bargain price. So I formed a motley crew of my friends and went off to give it a try.

The restaurant itself is uber fancy, they have a super nice bar and even a piano in the middle of the restaurant, not many places can say that. There is also a wine room, smoking room and little love seat in the loo. Its really quite posh, much fancier than the kind of places I usually frequent. The new AYCE deal is to replicate the Italian tradition that is aperitivo, where restaurants give you free food to get you to buy drinks in the evening. The all you can eat pizza is available every night form 6:30-9:30 for 15,000 and includes a drink too.

I honestly didn’t have high hopes for my free drink, but as it was included I couldn’t really complain. I started with an Aperol Spritz, which was lovely, then moved on to a caiprinha which was also fabulous. It is rare to find a half decent one under 15,000 in this hood, and here they are free with the pizza, or 10,000 each.  Word to the wise, the Peronis are miniscule, so you’ll probably get better bang for your buck with a cocktail.

Not long after I arrived, the pizza started showing up. They make them freshly and put them up on a buffet table where you collect them from. They come out reasonably often which is nice as we got them fresh. It was quite quiet during our visit, so we didn’t have to wait long. The margarita was pretty awesome, bubbly Napoli wood fired crust, topped with a simple yet flavourful tomato sauce, a little melted cheese and some fresh basil, eat it while it’s hot they told me and, eschewing my usual several minutes of photography, I did.

They switched up the pizzas too, each time they sent out a different flavour. Next up the four cheese, one of my favourites especially with a side of honey. I know purists will protest, but it’s such a good bloody combination. This was possible my favourite, it was lovely and cheesy, with a nice tingle from the blue cheese. Throw in the and the sweetness of the honey of the incredible chewy crust and it is party time.

The pizza kept on coming, and another one we enjoyed was the Italian sausage pizza. The meat itself was superbly flavoured  with plenty of fennel and Italian seasonings inside. There was also a salami version, which was crispy to perfection. After that the pizzas just rotated, and the slices were never left on the table for very long.

Also on the pizza table was a simple green salad, and two pasta dishes. Rigatoni is always a favourite of mine, one was topped with a simple tomato sauce, the second, plain with some ground beef and mushrooms. A nice addition to make a change from the pizza, but the pasta was too al dente for most of out table. A bit of bite yes, but I don’t want it hard.

By the end we were filled, and stuffed, there was more pizza left but we couldn’t finish it, we definitely had all we could eat. For the price this is really unbeatable, a great drink plus all you can eat pizza, plus a couple of other dishes. If it is busy this deal is here to stay, so if you like good pizza and are sick of paying far too much for it at other places, go support this place, I can believe anyone would walk away happy if they had what we did. I was more than happy to pay my 15,000 and ill definitely be going back.

Casa is located at 2F, 124-6, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight and take the second left. You will see Casa Antonia just up ahead in the right hand corner above Thursday Party. For more information you can call them on 02-794-8803, or check out their facebook page. The AYCE Pizza Aperitivo is on everyday from 6pm – 9:30pm, but the restaurant is open from 11am-10pm.

100 Korean Foods in 100 Days – Day 4 – Damatori

After my feast at Gwangjang Market, I was ahead of the game, but in need another few places to visit. As it was raining on Monday I thought it would be the ideal opportunity to give Pajeon a try as it is typically a rainy day food. Traditionally it was eaten by farmers on rainy days when they couldn’t tend to their crops because it was easy to prepare and the stodgy food was nourishing for the mind and body. The sound of Pajeon sizzling in the pan also recreates the sound of the rain.

Traditionally Pajeon is served a long side Makgeolli , a traditional fermented rice alcohol. So I headed over to Damotori in HBC as they have such an awesome selection. One of the best things about Damatori is that they have a Makgeolli tasting set for only 3,000 won. Which allows you to try five different Makgeolis to let yo see which one you like best. My favourite was the 복술도가 but we decided to get a bottle of our second favourite instead because it was cheaper (7,000). So food number 5 was a drink, not technically my favourite alcoholic beverage but it is very Korean, and different to anything else you find in the world. So it had to be tried.

My sixth food was Pajeon, a savoury Korean pancake made with green onions. There are a couple different versions at Damotori, and as they were out of the most common green onion and seafood version, we ordered the onion and mushroom instead (14,000). Honestly I don’t like seafood all that much, and I adore mushrooms so this was a plus in my box. The pajeon was cut into small pieces perfect for sharing. Though I thought the pancake itself was under-seasoned, with not a great deal of flavour by itself. The side dish of pickled soy sauce onions was very good, much better than the Gwangjang Market version. They added a nice salty and sour element to the dish, but a side of gochujang would have helped too. All in a a good meal for a rainy day though.

6/100 Korean foods eaten, 94 days remain! What would you like to see me try next? Check out the list below.

1.Samgyupsal 삼겹살 2.Bulgogi 불고기 3.Kalbi 갈비 4.Hanwoo Steak 한우 5.Smoked Duck 오리훈제 6.Raw Beef 육회 7.Fried Chicken 후라이드치킨 8.Dak Galbi 닭갈비 9.Bossam 보 10. Don Cass 돈까스 11.Kimchi Jiggae 김치찌개 12.Dwenjang Jjiggae 된장찌개 13.Sam Gae Tang 삼계탕 14.Hangover Soup 해장국 15.Dak Dori Tang 닭도리탕 16.Seaweed Soup 미역국 17.Tteok (New Year Soup) 떡국 18.Short Ribs 갈비찜 19.Tofu Soup 순두부찌개 20. Mandu Guk 만두국21.Bibimbab 비빔밥 22.Bokumbab 볶음밥 23.Nurungji 누룽지 24.Jjang Myeon 짜장면 25.Nangmyeon 냉면 26.Ramyeon 라면 27.Kimbab 김밥 28.Jap Chae 잡채 29.Kalguksu 칼국수 30.Jjimddaek 찜닭 31.Lotus Root 연근 32.Quails Egg 메츄리알 33.Kimchi 김치 34.White kimchi 백김치 35.Radish 깍두기 36.Cucumber 오이 37.Korean Eggplant 가지 38.Soft Tofu 순두부 39.Katnip (sauteed perilla) 깻잎 40.Mung Bean Sprouts 숙주 41.Dried Squid 오징어 42.Live Octopus 산낙지 43.Anchovi 멸치 44.Sashimi 회 45.Grilled Clam 조개구이 46.Yangnyeom Gejang 양념게장 47.Fishcake on a Stick 오뎅꼬치 48.Deep Fried Shrimp 새우튀김 49.Sea snails 소라 50.Sea Penis 개불 51.Pajeon 파전 52.Chicken Feet 닭발 53.Porridge 죽 54.Acorn Jelly 도토리욱 55.Pigs Trotters 족발 56.Dog Soup 보신탕 57.Gyeran Jjim 계란찜 58.Bindaetok 빈대떡 59.Bondegi 뻔데기 60.Sanjuk 산적 61.Tteokbokki 떡볶이 62.Mandu 만두 63.Croquette 고로게 64.Sundae 순대 65.Fried Tofu  두부부침 66.Yache Twigim 튀김 67.French Fry Hot Dog 핫도그 68.Twisted Potato 회오리감자 69.Meat on a Stick 꼬치 70.Egg Bread 계랑빵 71.Peppero 빼빼로 72.Shrimp Chips 새우칩 73.Tteokbokki snack 떡볶이과자 74.Honey Butter Chips 허니버터칲 75.Choco pie 초코파이 76.Steamed bun 호빵 77.Chestnuts 군밤 78.Jolly Pong 죠리퐁 79.Seaweed 김 80.Dried Persimmon 감말랭이 81.Soju 소주 82.Makgeoli 막걸리 83.Beer 맥주 84.Milkis 밀키스 85.Yuja Tea 유자차 86.Omijja Tea 오미지차 87.Hangover Drink 숙취해소음료 88.Rice Water 식혜 89.Ginseng  인삼쥬스 90.Aloe Vera Juice 알로에쥬스 91. Green tea 녹차 92.Bingsu 빙수 93.Hotcake 호떡 94.Red bean 팥 95.Manjoo 만주 96.Rice cakes 떡 97.Fish waffle 붕어빵 98.Jeju Orange 한라봉 99.Dragon Beard Candy 꿀타래 100. Korean melon 참외

 

Damotori is located at 31 Sinheung-ro, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station and come out of exit 2. Walk straight to the end of the road, then take the road baring left and walk straight pas the Kimchi Pots.Keep walking straight along this road, you will see Damotori just ahead on the left hand side, after you pass Bonny’s Pizza. For more information, you can call them on 070-8950-8362.