Tag: Dining

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.

Omyrose at Seoul Dining

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Last week I was invited to an event to promote a new range of Korean liquors called Omyrose, which are made by J.K Lee with  omija berries grown right here in Korea. Now I think we all know how much I enjoy a drink, and the prospect of trying something new was very enticing to me. The event was held at Seoul Dining, a new restaurant in the Dongguk university area. The slick and sleek restaurant has only been open for a month but it exuded a warm and welcoming high end atmosphere.

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We started out the night with a glass of the Korean Omyrose sparkling wine. The sparkling wine has a rather lovely pink hue to it that really reminded me of a kir royal cocktail. The wine itself was a touch sweet with a slightly bitter finish but I rather enjoyed it, and quaffed quite a few glasses to say the least. The sparkling wine was paired with raw cooked scallops with apple and sesame oil, in a mussel sauce, which was light and delicate taste of the sea. It was a nice contrast against the heady flavour of the wine.

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Our next drink was The Omyrose rosé (try saying that after a few too many). Again  the wine was slightly sweet from the berries but it had a very buttery finish. I’ve never been into dry wines so I was quite enamored with his one too. The rosé was paired with several dishes but for the most memorable being  a pumpkin and potato soup, cauliflower quinoa, and squid ceviche, The warm and comforting soup was so silky it felt like a pair of loving arms wrapping itself around your heart. While the squid ceviche provided a refreshing kick and some extra texture. It was the ideal autumnal dish.

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After a couple of other of courses including grey mullet, and confit chicken leg, it was time to move on to the stronger liquors. First was the oaky finish omija liquor. It was strong and we were given a glass of ice to pour it over. This to me tasted like the love child of a tequila and a scotch, probably due to the oak flavour from the barrel. This one was a bit too intense for me, though I’m rarely into drinking straight liquor.  I’d love to see what it tasted like in a cocktail though.

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The liquor was served with my favourite dish of the meal, char-grilled Iberico pork pluma, with onion and anchovy pesto. Just one bite of the tender grilled pork was enough to make me fall in love with this dish. The meat just oozed flavour. When talking with the Chef Eric, he told me he first started making this dish in Portugal when working in a restaurant there, and it is now his signature dish. I can see why as it was absolutely delicious.

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After the incredible pork we finished with a shot of the white liquor, a clear version of the one we enjoyed before and the most expensive of the bunch, though it does come in a rather beautiful bottle. This one was served straight up in a shot glass, but again I just found it too strong to enjoy neat. Along with the liquor we served espresso and a deconstructed tiramisu which was a very enjoyable way to end the meal.

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Overall I was really impressed by the Omyrose wines, and its great to see a new high end brand of Korean liquors, as they make especially good gifts. For anyone interested in Omyrose it is available in Shinsaegae and other large department stores and costs between 50,000 – 360,000 per bottle. I also really enjoyed the set dinner prepared by Seoul Dining. I took a look at their menu before I left and found that the 7 course dinner cost 77,000 and thought it to be very reasonably. It featured an excellent mix of Korean ingredients presented in the style of modern western cooking. It would be the perfect location for any special occasion.

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Seoul Dining is located at 272, Dongho-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Dongguk University Station (line 3) and come out of exit 3. Walk straight for about 100 meters, you will see the Welcome City building ahead of you on the right hand side. Walk up the stairs and you will see the Seoul Dining restaurant on your right. For more information or to make a reservation you can call them on 010-3586-8061. They are open from Tuesday – Saturday for lunch and dinner.

Ryunique

Occasionally my life is very charmed, and last week was one of those occasions as I was invited to try the tasting menu at Ryunique in Sinsa. The name rang a bell as it was where the In-N-Out Burger pop up had been located but I had no idea about the restaurant itself. A quick search revealed that it had been voted one of Asia’s 50 best restaurants in 2015, in fact it was voted 27th. So after a quick peruse of the menu, I said they could count me in, and as an extra special treat they let me drag TFB along with me.

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Kitchen Loading Urban Farmers

As you know Valentine’s day passed last week and despite having a number of favourite restaurants to dine at I still felt compelled to try somewhere new. I had heard great things about Kitchen Loading, so after doing a bit more research I thought it would make the perfect location for a romantic dinner. Located in Tteokseom the restaurant is a bit further away than I generally like to travel, but after seeing the beautiful pictures of the food and finding out a three course dinner is only 38,000 won, I felt it was worth a ride in a taxi.

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Seollal(설날) Restaurant Guide

Woo Hoo! It’s finally Friday, and if that wasn’t great enough as it is, it’s also the start of a 5 day weekend!!! For the next few days Koreans will be heading out of the city to spend time with their loved ones, making it the perfect time to enjoy a relaxing time in an otherwise bustling metropolis. With all this time off you are likely to have plenty of free time for eating out, so I have found out the opening times for all my favourite restaurants to stop you from arriving to closed doors with rumbling bellies! Happy Lunar New Year Everyone!

Closed Only on Monday 8th February 

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Leftcoast – As usual Left Coast will be serving up their their gourmet burgers and yummy deep fried sides. they have some pretty good cocktails too.

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Brera – My favourite Italian in Seoul, will be serving its full brunch, lunch and dinner menu throughout the holidays.

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Spain Night Market – The cheapest tapas joint in town by far, and cheap eats = more money for Sangria.

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Pick A Bagel – Real NYC bagels are in the house. Though they will not open until 12pm on Tuesday.

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Little Baja – Seafood tacos, horchata and Tequila, need i say more?

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Lobster Bar – Whole lobster, lobster sandwiches, steak, and cocktails are just a few of the many treats I enjoy at this Itaewon eatery.

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Dominic – NY style dinging at it’s finest in Itaewon. If you know whats good you you, you’ll get the steak and creamed spinach.

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Linus BBQ – Bama style southern BBQ and a whole host of boozy treats. get the platter, you won’t be sorry.

 

Closed on Sunday &  Monday 7th & 8th February

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WinK –  Kyodae’s best pub will be open from 11:30am – midnight.

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Spicy Bite – Serves up pan-Asian cuisine, think lots of lovely crispy noodles, and sweet and spicy dishes.

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Jil’Hal Bros Cheongdam – Chicken, rice, salad and pita NYC style, more addictive than crack!

 

Closed Monday & Tuesday 8th & 9th February 

NYC style pizza - margarita and supreme

Gino’s NY Pizza – Real NY style pizza open on Wednesday for dinner only from 5pm. See their facebook page for more details.

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Vertex Chicken – Tender chicken in a teriyaki or spicy sauce. served with rice and veggies. Deliverable and addictively tasty.

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Bulldogs – My number one Brit hang out, Pimm’s, scotch eggs and amazing hot dogs. Did I mention Pimm’s?

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Vatos – Still the coolest Mexican by far, great tacos, giant cocktails and a super cool vibe.

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Jil’Hal Bros Hongdae – The new branch serves up the same amazeballs chicken and rice as their Cheongdam branch.

Closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday 7th – 9th February

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The Beastro – Fine American dinning and killer cocktails at incredibly reasonable prices. Still one of my favourite places in town.

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McCoy’s The new fine dining HBC restaurant has already become one of my favourite places to eat, probably because it’s so cheap. They will be open for Sunday lunch but closed for dinner.

Closed Monday Tuesday & Wednesday 8th – 10th February

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Manimal – BBQ goodness in all it’s meaty glory. Closed for the holidays, but at least they are open this weekend.

Closed Only on Wednesday 10th February 

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Mozzie – Your favourite Kiwi pub will be knocking out its ginormous portions of pub grub as per usual.

Open everyday 

While almost all of the restaurants seem to be closed on Monday, the pubs have got you covered.

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The Workshop – Booze and fried food from 5pm everyday!

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Route 66 – Giant sandwiches, boneless wings, and drinks by the bucketload from 5pm everyday.

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The Wolfhound – Your favourite Irish bar, is open 365 days of the year and will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner as well a wide variety of libations. I also met TFB there over 7 years ago, so if you’re looking for love it might be just the spot to check out.

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And as a special treat Villa Guerrero will be doing a pop up in Itaewon from the Tuesday 9th- Saturday the 13th of February at 34-40 Itaewon-dong. If you like a real carnitas taco then these should not be missed!

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Windy City Pizza will also be doing a pop up on Monday 8th of February from 11:30am and on Tuesday & Wednesday the 9th & 10th of February from 5pm at Cali Kitchen in Gyeongridan. Lucky customers will be able to get their lips around one of their delicious Chicago style slices while stocks last.

Thai Chicken Pizza

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I’ve been obsessed with making my own pizza all summer long. If you follow my instagram account you will have seen me devouring them. Homemade pizza is such a joy and puts a smile on the face of anyone that eats it. A thin crispy crust, covered with fresh vegetables and and cheese, and eaten outside. I decided to  switch it up a bit this time and go for a Thai style pizza. The sauce was made with coconut milk and peanut butter, then I layered it up with chicken and lovely Thai vegetables. Served with my tomato salad and a homemade Pimm’s it was perfection. An awesome, easy, and fresh dinner to share with your loved one or friends.

 

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Ingredients (makes 3 large pizzas)

Dough 

500g flour (I used the one for dumplings and noodles.)

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of yeast (I used bobai brand that comes in 8g packages)

4 table spoons of olive oil

14 oz ice cold water

Sauce

1/2 a can of coconut milk

3 tablespoons of peanut butter

2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce.

Topping

1 chicken breast

1/2 an onion

1 egg plant

1-2 chillies

150g of grated cheese

A bunch of cilantro (고수)

A handful of basil leaves

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Directions 

1. Make the pizza dough using my recipe here.

2. While the dough is resting, cook your chicken breasts with a little garlic and oil. I also added some Thai seasoning I bought on i-Herb. Then slice and roast your egg plants. Grate the cheese, and slice the onion and chillies. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

3. Roll out the dough to the size of your pan, then sprinkle with flour before placing the dough on top. Cover the base with the sauce and bake in the oven for 10 minutes to cook the dough. If you don’t do this and you pile on everything on top first the dough will stay raw in the middle.

4. Once the base has cooked, layer it up with cheese and all your lovely vegetables apart from the basil leaves and cook for another 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is golden brown. Sprinkle the basil leaves on top then serve.

 

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The Beastro

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The Beastro is the hottest new restaurant to hit Hongdae and is serving up contemporary American cuisine. The large restaurant is set over three floors, and boasts an open plan kitchen and a roof top patio where you can enjoy drink or two whilst gazing out over the city sky line. Which is the perfect place to beat the heat and enjoy the cool breeze. (more…)

Vatos Urban Tacos

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So as per usual I am way behind the foodie times. Every food reviewer and his dog has already written about the wonders of Vatos.  The restaurant already has queues going down the hill so I’m sure none of the regulars want me sharing it’s deliciousness with the few people that don’t know about it. However readers I want you to know about all the places that I love to eat and Vatos is definitely in my Top 5 which is why it was 100% necessary for me to write about it, even if it has taken me a year and a half!

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This place is tres cool with a hip and happening vibe, in fact it’s probably so cool it’s out again. On any given evening it’s always filled to the brim with people eating, drinking and having a good time. As well as trying some of the best Mexican fusion food and drinks in Korea it’s the place to be seen.

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Almost everything on the extensive menu is good here, but I will will run you through my favourites and some of the new items that are on their Spring/Summer menu. But before I can even get to to the food I have to talk about the cocktails. No one loves a cocktail more than Fat Girl and at Vatos they have a pretty damn good choice. Now for me the star attraction is their margaritas! With a huge variety of fruity flavours and a whole host of accompanying bottles you can  have upturned into one. Why have one drink when you can have two right? For the sweet toothed I have to recommend the Sexy Sanchez (17,400). A strawberry margarita with a strawberry Brunty’s cider, cider + taquilla = drunken fun times ahead! I am also a big fan of the new passion fruit margarita (12,500). For non frozen fans try the Texas Tea (14,000) and the Mexican Martini (15,000).

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I have pretty much tried all the tacos at this point and hands down, the Lime Shrimp (10,000 for 3)  are my favourite. They are so good I would crawl over my grandmother to get them. In fact I usually order 3 then have another 3 because I love them that much. Breaded pieces of shrimpy goodness, salad, delicious limey sauce and their amazing homemade soft tacos. Just thinking about them right now is making me hanker after them. Just recently they added another flavour to their taco collection, Chimichurri Chicken Tacos (9,000 for 3). The chicken and chimichurri sauce has a really nice kick without being too spicy. They pack a punch of flavour while still remaining fresh and tasty.

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Also on the new menu are the Honey Tequilla Chicken Wings (12,000). I do love a good wing and these are exceptional. The crunchy coating is spectacular. I asked for the recipe and they told me it was just seasoned flour, but mine never comes out like that!  The sauce has a dozen or so ingredients that I am sure I would never be able to recreate. I could have eaten at least two portions of these even on top of the tacos.

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The Sid Burger & fries(15,500) is the latest and most popular burger on the burger network. Aptly named after it’s genius creator Sid! Now I love a good burger, I have written about this fact dozens and dozens of times. I even belong to a Seoul Burger Lovers Group on Facebook, yes there is one you can join here. Among the elite burgeratti of Seoul this is one of the most highly regarded and I was desperate to try it. A burger, cheese, and pulled pork. It’s like two things I love got married and had a burger baby. This is a serious mouthful of meaty goodness. Vatos makes some seriously good burgers, so be sure not to neglect them in favour of their more Mexican style dishes.

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Lastly we has to try the Tamales (10,000 for 2). I fell in love with tamales when I was in Argentina and never thought in my wildest dreams they would turn up in Korea. When Vatos put them on the menu I was one of the first to try them. Two big tamales stuffed with corny goodness and two dipping sauces. One cool and one spicy, so everyone is happy.

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One word of advice, this place gets packed during prime dining hours especially at weekends. Luckily you can make a reservation, do it or prepare to queue. The other option is eating at the bar or a little island table. As the cool and trendy folk that like to queue come here to be seen as well as enjoying amazing food, and are not generally interested in those tables so you can usually jump the line a little. Call the number below to reserve a table.

Vatos has three locations in Seoul. One in Sinsa, one in Apgujeong, and one in Itaewon. My local is the one in Itaewon. Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-dong, 81-8 2nd Floor, Seoul Korea(서울시 용산구 이태원동) For the other location please click on the above links. For more information including maps and a full menu check out their website or call 02-797-8226. 

OKitchen

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I had never even heard the name OKitchen mentioned until I went to the medicinal competition in Sancheong. The chefs representing the restaurant won one of the top prizes. After that I noticed that everyone was talking about it and telling me how great the food was, so I thought it was about time I tried it. After a little research online, I found that it was fine dining. Little did I know that I had walked past the restaurant dozens of time. We had even looked at the menu before, thought it looked good, but not ventured inside. It just goes to show that appearances can by deceptive and you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The little wooden plank clad restaurant looks more like a ski chalet in the mountains than a fine dining establishment. But once inside, the restaurant is warm, cosy, and perfect for a nice intimate dinner.

Soon after sitting we were brought  the bread basket. Four different varieties, focaccia, butter scone bread, a black sesame crisp and a walnut bread. The bread came with oil and vinegar and was refilled once we finished it. The walnut could have done with a little more salt but all in all it was a nice selection.

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Niall ordered the tasting plate, which consisted of six different courses for 80,000. I’ll run through that and then discuss the a la carte dishes I ordered. The first  dish of the tasting platter was the seafood plate. A large variety of fish and seafood were on the dish, far too many to recount. A nice start to the meal if you like raw fish. I sadly did not so couldn’t comment but Niall enjoyed it and felt it was nicely balanced and the accompaniments worked well.

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Next up was the polenta cake with mushrooms and a poached fertile egg. I was looking forward to my taste of this one, eggs and mushrooms are always a winning combination for me. The egg looked as though it was sous-vide rather than poached, which was not to my preference as the egg white is not as solid as if it had been poached. The egg yolk was lovely and runny though.

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The starters kept on coming and next was a roasted fig with gorgonzola and poached pear. Not usually a gorgonzola fan, the cheese complimented the fig well. It was small though and quickly devoured.

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Next came the pasta course. The pasta of the day was spaghetti with mackerel. The mackerel was not too strong in flavour and I was actually able to eat a little of this one.

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After the pasta course was the main of  han-woo steak. This steak was half the size of the regular option but after all those courses it would have been far too much. He ordered his steak blue which I thought was a little rare for the cut of the meat, but he enjoyed it all the same. It came with little pearls of mustard seeds, greens and roasted potatoes.

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Finally on to the dessert course of warm chocolate cake with espresso ice-cream. The cake was warm with a little sauce still melting in the middle. The ice-cream was nice and creamy and the raspberry jus smeared on the plate nice and tart. A lovely nice dessert and the perfect end to the meal. Thankfully it was small or we might not have finished it!

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Rather than the tasting menu I went a la carte and had the potato gnocchi with pumpkin sauce and truffle oil (23,000) This was as yummy as it sounds. The gnocchi was soft and lightly fried so the edge was crisp. The pumpkin sauce was sweet and complimentary and the delicious smell of truffles wafted through the dish.  Topped with grated parmesan and mushrooms, I will be coming back for this dish again.

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On to my main of Australian lamb done two ways (45,000). Composed of a rack of lamb, perfectly cooked to medium rare.  The pan seared edge tasted of lemon and herbs and was extremely good. The second piece was slow cooked in delicious gravy like sauce, the waitress didn’t explain this dish at all but I would guess it was shoulder, served on a bed of mashed something. I have no idea what it was could have been celeriac, cauliflour, or polenta. I just don’t know. It was tasty though. The slow cooked lamb was divine it was so soft and tender it just fell apart in my mouth and melted into my tongue. It’s hard to beat a nice rack but this did it in spades. Possibly the best lamb I’ve ever eaten in Korea. I’ll be coming back for this one, too. I couldn’t be happier about my choice of dishes.

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The only part about the dining experience that I think needs improving is the service. We waited longer than we should have to be given menus, and every time a dish was brought over they just left without explaining the dish. When prompted they were able to explain but it is my personal belief that during a fine dining experience it is paramount that servers explain the elements that compose the meal. The menu gives very little detail other than the two or three main ingredients. The chefs go to a lot of trouble to put together each plate and for the customer not to know what’s on seems a little redundant. The owner was kind and warm but I think he could do with training his waitresses a little better. I was also a little miffed to see no cocktails on the menu, but those who enjoy wine and beer will be happy enough.

Over all we had a great meal for a reasonable price at Okitchen and I will definitely be returning. The service could be improved but it wouldn’t stop me from visiting again or recommending it as a good place for a special dinner. I would recommend that at least one person in your party get the tasting plate if you like to try a little of everything. But also try a few other dishes on the menu too.

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Okitchen is located at Itaewon-dong 168-14 Itaewon-Dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon station and come out exit 1. Walk straight for maybe 100m and you should see Okitchen in one of the little alleyways. If you get as far as ABC mart you’ve gone too far. You can call them on 02-797-6420 or check out their facebook page.