Tag: Date

Jungsik Bar

Happy New Year one and all. I’ve started this year at rather a slow pace, quite frankly I have barely had the energy to get out of bed let alone write my blog, but we all deserve a break now and again and this post should make up for it.  Jungsik has been on my list of places to try for a number of years now, its modern Korean cuisine has been particularly well regarded and it recently even received a coveted Michelin star when the new Korean guide came out. While the list has been questioned by many, Jungsik seems to be hailed as one of the most deserving. However thanks to the extra boost of popularity the star has given it, the place is now rather hard to get a table at.

So when TFB offered to take me out on a little date night to celebrate our 8 year anniversary, Jungsik was one of my first suggestions, however at short notice the place was understandably fully booked on a Friday night. Luckily we were informed that the bar offers some of the same food, so after looking it up online we decided to give it a try. For those who can ill afford a pricey four course dinner, or just can’t seem to get a reservation, the bar on the first floor is a port in a storm. The bar menu is split into two parts, the bar menu, and the ‘classic menu’ which is made of up of  special vintage dishes that have been the restaurant’s signatures over the years. The dishes come in three sizes, bite size, small, and regular. I especially liked the idea of the bar offering the most popular dishes from the past few years, it’s the perfect way to keep the restaurant menu fresh and innovative while still giving regular patrons a chance to eat their favourites.

It being a bar and all we decided to get a drink. The emphasis here is on wine, they have a very large menu and a selection of wine machines which allow you to try as much or as little of the wine as you would like. At the very knowledgeable sommelier’s recommendation we decided to try a flight of Natural Wines (50,000). Natural wines are made without chemicals and as little technological processing as possible and Jung Sik has over 60 varieties. On the flight, there were two whites and two reds. Of the four wines included, my favourite was the Detorri Bianco, while TFB favoured the Il Frappato. The flight allowed wive novices such as ourselves to try more of a variety than if we had just had a glass each.

After browsing the bar menu we opted for the octopus dish Pulpo a la Gallega (20,000 Small). This was the medium sized plate which was perfect for us to share,  but they also have a larger or bite size portion available which you can pair with the wine sips if you are super into the wine pairing thing. I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten proper octopus before and was shocked at how large the tentacles were. I’m sure I have only eaten the baby version so was pleasantly surprised at how it had such a meaty texture. With the paprika spiced potatoes this dish seemed to be very Spanish, probably due to the flavours and the tapas style serving size. For someone like myself, who is not really a huge seafood lover, this dish really impressed me, and I soon found myself fighting over the last bite.

As well as the octopus we got the 2009 Crispy Pork (30,000 Small). Belly pork when done right is one of my absolute favourite meals in the world and this one was exquisite. The meat was so juicy and tender, while the top side remained nice and crisp. On top were pickled chillies which added a nice heat without being in the slightest bit overbearing. The dish went to a whole new level of deliciousness when I tried the pork with the mash and the wilted Korean garlic leaf(명이나물). I’ve never had that particular leaf before but it went so perfectly with the pork in a truly subtle and heavenly way. I just wish their had been so much more of it.

Having had a really small taste of this place has only left me wanting more. There are so many more dishes i would have loved to have tried so I am definitely going to be going back. Their lunch menu is incredibly reasonable and almost half the price of the dinner menu despite the fact the food is the same so I think I’ll start there and save dinner for those who have deeper pockets than me. The restaurant only takes reservations up to a month in advance, so if you find due to the new starring the place is booked, you will not have to wait so long until you can give it a try, or you can always get a table at the bar like we did.

Jung Sik Bar is located at 11 Seollungro 158-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Apgujeong Rodeo (yellow line) and come out of exit 4. Walk straight for one block and then turn left. The restaurant is on your left hand side, and the bar part is the first floor. For more info/reservations you can call them on +82 2 517 4654, or visit their website.

Boccalino – Brunch

Christmas is a time for giving and sharing, but its also a time to spoil yourself rotten. After slaving away in the kitchen and preparing a huge traditional feast on Christmas Eve I was ready for a break on Christmas Day. So what better way to relax than with a free flow prosecco brunch at Boccalino in the Four Seasons Hotel. Eating at Italian restaurant Boccalino earlier in the year was one of the best meals I’ve eaten in 2016, so I knew they’d come up with the goods for a special Christmas celebration.

Boccalino is on the second floor of the stunningly beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in Gwanghwamun. As soon as we walked through the doors it was beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. The hotel was filled with elegant decorations and huge Christmas trees decorated with cute Cartier ornaments. The whole places exudes luxury in a very modern way, and each of the four restaurants inside are stunningly beautiful.

The brunch at Boccalino costs 125,000 if you are going free flow (and why the hell wouldn’t you!), or 90,000 with a single glass. You then are then given a menu which allows you to choose between a starter, main course and dessert. I believe the menu changes regularly but our choices were mushroom risotto or prawn linguine, hanwoo sirloin or half lobster, and apricot tart or raspberry vanilla mouse. You also have access to a very large and well stocked antipasto bar.

It being Christmas and all, the first thing we did after sitting down was chug a glass of prosecco each. The prosecco we were served was fantastic, crisp and clean and very easy to drink, possibly too easy. This was clearly not a cheap bottle, it was one of the nicest I’ve had in some time I only wish I’d taken a picture of the bottle so I could buy some for home. After a glass or 3 of bubbly we headed over to the anti pasto bar. This had a lot more than I had anticipated. There was a selection of seafood, (crab legs, oysters, mussels and scallops), a much smaller choice than what they offer downstairs at Market Kitchen but more than ample in my eyes. There was also a nice array of salads, including steak salad, caprese, tuna, couscous, and pasta. On the other side were cured meats, a big selection of cheese, dips, freshly baked bread and the softest focaccia I’ve had in a long time. The item that I could not get enough of was the truffle mushroom dip. It was my idea of food heaven and I honestly could not stop eating it. I think I almost considered filling my handbag with it so i could take it home it was so addictive. But luckily for the restaurant and my new handbag I refrained. We made more than a few trips to stock up on our favourite items throughout the meal and I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with the selection.

No sooner had we finished our antipasto and bubbly, when out came the pasta course. I went for the mushroom risotto, while TFB did the Shrimp linguine. Having only 2 choices made it perfect to decide as we each just got one of each course. Mushroom risotto is one of my favourite dishes, but honestly I found this one a touch bland which was slightly disappointing, the freshly made seafood linguine was much better. We were also given a bowl of pumpkin soup that I felt was too sweet and probably there to please to the Korean patrons.

For our main we had a steak and a lobster. The Boston half lobster which was served with herb butter and bread crumbs was plenty after the other courses. The lobster inside was very plump and tasty. The Hanwoo sirloin came a top pureed potato and was served with wild rocket, shaved parmesan, and a balsamic reduction. The steak was also tender and delicious. Not as good as the one we previously enjoyed here in the evening, but very nice and much better than the first course.

For dessert we enjoyed a raspberry and vanilla mousse with a forest berry sorbet and pistachio macaron, and an apricot and chocolate tart. It was hard to choose which of these was best, they were both delightful in their own way so just get both, you wont regret it.  We also finished with a round of coffee which I always think is necessary after a big meal. I enjoyed a lovely cappuccino and a peppermint tea to help me digest the epic meal I’d just consumed.

Overall I really enjoyed my brunch at Boccalino. The selection is probably a quarter of the size of what your’d get downstairs at Market Kitchen, but there are plenty of high end items on the anti pasto bar that will make up for that and the free flow option really swung it for me. The prosecco was delicious and I’m sure I had a good two bottles just to myself. As it was Christmas it was lovely for a treat and I’d certainly go again if I was celebrating something special. If you have made no plans for New Year’s Day it would be the perfect place to celebrate 2017.

Boccalino is located on the second floor of The Four Seasons Hotel, 97 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Gwanghwamun Station (line 5) and come out of exit 7.  Walk straight and cross over the street, you should see the hotel in front of you. For more information you can call them on 02-6388-5000, or check out their website

Normal by Ryunique

Last week I was invited back to Normal in Sinsa to try their new quick and simple menu by Ryunique. If you read this blog religiously you will know that I enjoyed a sumptuous 16 course meal at Ryunique earlier this year, then another fabulous but slightly less grand meal at new sister restaurant Normal. The team behind the two restaurants are now offering patrons the chance to experience the magic of the food you’d enjoy at Ryunique at Normal, for those who have neither the time or money for the 16 or 22 course extravaganza at the original location.

The new menu offers a Quick Ryunique for 60,000 per person which includes 7 different courses, or a Keep Ryuinque for 80,000 that is 9 courses. As we were a pair, we decided to get one version of each. Personally I felt the quick menu was filling enough by itself and after enjoying all 7 courses I was stuffed. On the back of the menu is the list of ingredients used in each dish and where in Korea they can be sourced. I really appreciated this extra level of care, and it clear that Chef Ryu and his team are incredibly passionate about what they do. Since it was a special occasion and the meal was on the house we split a bottle of Biblia Chora (60,000), a Greek sauvignon blanc. I’m not really an oenophile but I know what I like and this was delicious and paired perfectly with the first five courses.

We started off as you do with any classy dinner with an amuse bouche, or three in the case of the larger meal. The first of which was my favourite a Jerusalem artichoke soup with a sous vide egg, artichoke chips, shavings of aged chicken breast and beetroot powder. As well as looking stunning and incredibly beautiful, the soup itself was like silk running down my throat, and it got even more lustrous when we found a sous vide egg yolk in the middle of the bowl. The shavings of chicken added a saltiness while the artichoke chips provided the crunch. All in all an incredible dish and a wonderful way to use the in season and overlooked ‘pig potatoes’.

After one or two more amuse dishes we moved on to the Fois Gras Blini. It was described to us as a mini take on the BLT sandwich. Fois gras was piled upon prosciutto, tomato, cucumber and a sweet brioche style bread and served with a lemon sour cream. This was such a delightful and playful dish, that was as tasty as it was cute and was one of the extra courses we received on the larger 80,000 menu.

One of the main draws of eating at Ryunique is the fact that every dish has a  theatrical element that is administered by your server. One of the dishes that stood out most to me was the Butternut Squash soup with Confit Duck Leg. We were brought our bowls while our server told us what we were eating then she then poured out our rich and creamy soup, then added a few drops of anti ageing oil (toasted duck fat). This gave the dish a wonderful  nuttiness, which balanced with the salty and gamey flavour of the duck, and the richness of the cream cheese filled ravioli was just heavenly. Personally I couldn’t get enough of this soup and would eat it for the rest of my days. However my companion said it could be considered to be a bit on the sweet side by some but we both enjoyed it immensely.

The first and star player of our main courses was the Pork Jowl with Apple and Dashi. Pork and apple is such a classic combination but this version was elevated by the peppery and slightly bitter mustard leaves, and the addition of dashi and crushed peanuts. The pork itself was was raised in Jirisan, and had the most wonderful flavour. It was in some ways a very simple dish that let the ingredients speak for themselves without adding any extra bells and whistles.

If I talked about every dish we enjoyed that night, we would be here all night but here is a little amalgamation of the best of the rest. From top left Roast duck with orange sauce, Tomatoes bubble salad, beef tartar and cream cheese ravioli, all of which I ate and wrote about on my last visit. So please take a look at that review if you would like to know more about those courses.

For dessert we were presented an enchanting woodland scene. The star of which was a chocolate ball filled with the most sumptuous raspberry sorbet. A small chocolate log, and candy floss cloud were also served on a specially made wood like plate.  After dessert came a round of tea and coffee which is included in the set meal, along with a chocolate truffle which I’m not sure how we finished after eating so much but I guess we found room somewhere.

Once again I was bowled over by the tastes and flavours that Chef Ryu presented in the most fabulous way. Some of the dishes I’d tried before but they still astounded me and I always feel in awe by the Chef and his team’s talent. I also want to mention that the service was attentive and knowledgeable from the outset and throughout. Good service in this city is a rarity, at least in the places I can afford to eat in. Personally I’ve always though that good service is the easiest way to turn a good meal into a great one so they deserve some recognition for that too. If you are looking for a place to eat that is going to impress without breaking the bank you’d be hard pushed to find better than Normal and if you really want to dazzle your date for a one off experience that could only be described as magical then head to Ryuinque.

Normal is located at 520-8, 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. normal is about half way down just before the 4th left turn. For more information you can call them on 02-6405-9279 or check out their facebook page.

McCoy’s

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With my jam packed schedule it has actually been quite a while since I last had a chance to eat at my favourite HBC bistro, McCoy’s. So when they invited me back to try their new menu, i just couldn’t say no. I last reviewed the cute and quaint eatery at the end of last year, when it became one of my most popular date night restaurants. Not only is the place absolutely adorable, the food is also fantastic and it’s very well priced. I hoped that nothing had changed in that department since my last visit and luckily I wasn’t disappointed. (more…)

Social Table

On a very rainy evening a few weeks ago I was invited to dinner by a very good friend. She suggested Social Table, and since it was very close to my house I thought it would be worth a try. Social Table like a  lot of great places to eat, is located in Gyeongridan in the hidden alleyway where the police station is. If you still haven’t been down this street then I suggest you check it out, it is filled with all kinds of quirky cafes, restaurants and dessert shops.  I had walked past this place on more than a few occasions but sheer laziness stopped me climbing up to the second floor to find out more.

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Kahlo & Diego

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We all know I’m a big old lush, especially once the summer kicks in. I don’t think there has been a day this week where I haven’t enjoyed a refreshing alcoholic beverage on my terrace at cocktail hour. But as much as I enjoy drinking at home, it is also fun to go out now and again. Last week I met with my bar tender and very good friend Ray Sway Oh, star of the Yancha Life. It being a Friday night and all he suggested going for a drink after dinner, and I knew just the place. (more…)

12 Stairs

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In my life, good cocktails are everything. And I do an awful lot of research trying to find the best bars in the city. I’m incredibly dedicated to my drinking problem and only the finest libations will do. While so many bars have the finest ingredients they don’t always know how to prepare them, making a spectacular cocktail is a truly skilled art, and when I sipped my first drink at 12 stairs I knew I had found somewhere very special indeed. (more…)

Bloc Party

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Last week one of my bestest best friends asked me if I knew a great first date restaurant. Somewhere with nice food and ambiance, but that wasn’t too expensive or noisy. And to be honest I drew a bit of a blank, there are tonnes of fab restaurants in Itaewon but not too many that fall in the middle. There are some awesome holes in walls with insatiably tasty, cheap food, fancy finer dining affairs or cool hip haunts that are all about being seen, but nowhere that is suitable for a first date without being too pricey (no one wants to blow their wad on a tinder date). So when I was invited to come and check out Bloc Party I knew I’d finally found what he was looking for. (more…)

Mix & Malt

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Mix & Malt has been one of my favourite cocktail bars in Seoul since I discovered it last Summer. With its gorgeous deck outside it’s the perfect place to soak up the rays and enjoy a libation or two. As well as the gorgeous outdoor patio they also have a lovely fireplace upstairs with ample seating for when the weather turns chilly.

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Mi Casa

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A few weeks ago I was invited to a luxurious dinner at Mi Casa along with the who’s who of the foodie world so they could launch their new collection of Spanish wines. I was thrilled to be invited, as it combined my three favourite activities – eating, drinking, and travel. The fact that I didn’t have to leave Itaewon to go there, was the cherry on top of the cake. (more…)