Tag: Gangnam

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.

Bistopping

It is hot as hell right now, and nothing cools you down like a beautiful and very Instagrammable ice cream. I came across the Sinsa ice-creamery online and thought it was such an adorable spot, that I couldn’t resist paying them a visit. I also brought a whole host of friends with me to try it too. The ice cream shop is located in between Sinsa and Nonhyeon. The shop itself is quite small and was packed to the rafters with hungry girls waiting for their frozen treats. Luckily they have a small seating area outside, and an air conditioned restaurant next door for you to wait in while they make them. We visited on a busy afternoon and we probably had to wait 20 minutes for them to be made after ordering.

The ice creams come in three different flavours Milk (3,500), Yogurt (4,000) and Chocolate (5,000), you can then pimp it up with one of the fabulous decorated cones for an extra 1,500 won. There was a huge display area with 20 different numbered designs for you to choose from.  You then choose your cookie and chocolate add ons, which are what make the dessert look so magical. The simple chocolate stars and hearts are 700 won, while some of the prettier cookie embellishments are between 1,500 -2,500 won. If you want to get a super crazy cone it will be closer to 10,000 though I managed to make my cactus cone for 7,800.

The ice cream itself was quite nice and reminiscent of the one you get from Sweetruck. It has that slightly sour, almost cheesy like taste. Kind of like milk gone bad, but it in a good way. Our group was rather boring and we all got milk, except one of us who got chocolate so I didn’t have chance to try the other flavours. I did get to try some of the other embellishments though. A definite thumbs up for the fruity pebbles, never had these before and thought they were tres delicious. I cant believe it is a breakfast cereal though, it would be like eating a bowl of sweets for you morning meal.

Overall I thought Bistopping to be just as adorable as it looked on Instagram. If you are looking for really good ice cream then this is not the place for you, but if you want a really fun dessert that will look great in pictures it is worth a visit.

Bistopping is located at 68 Sinbanpo-ro 47-gil, Jamwon-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sinsa Station (line 3) and come out of exit 4. walk straight and take the third right. Walk straight again and take the third left, the road kind of curves round. follow this road and you will see Bistopping just ahead on the left hand side. for more information you can call them on 070-7792-0409 or checkout their Instagram page. Bistopping is open from 11am -10pm everyday.

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.

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.

Buttermilk Biscuit Co

Last night I headed over to Apgujeong to meet up with some old friends. After consulting my trusty list of places I want to eat at we settled upon new kid on the block Buttermilk Biscuit Co. Being a Brit I can’t say I’m really a huge fan of ‘biscuits’. Where I come from they are called scones, and we eat them with clotted cream and jam not fried chicken. However since I’ve been in Korea my tastes have become more exotic, so I threw caution to the wind and went off to give ‘American food’ a try.

The diner like restaurant is located in the rather posh neighbourhood of Apgujeong. It is just a short walk from exit 4, on a little street I’ve never had cause to walk down before. The place is quite spacious in appearance but only has seating for about 12 as the large open plan kitchen takes up a fair amount of the space. Unsurprisingly biscuits are the star attraction of the menu. You can either buy them separately or eat them with a variety of different sauces and toppings.  We were slightly torn over what to try but thankfully settled on three options thanks to their picture menu.

First up was the Southerner (9,500). A buttermilk biscuit topped with sauteed onions, fried chicken, bacon, eggs, cheese and country gravy. This is pretty much what I always imagined a  proper ‘merican’ southern breakfast to be. A mini mountain of fried food was presented, and I was surprised at how ungreasy it was. I’ve never been much of a fan of American gravy (I certainly wouldn’t put it on my roast beef that’s for damn sure), but I was actually quite partial to this one. It wasn’t overly salty and I appreciated having the thick sauce to eat alongside the biscuit. I’m no biscuit expert but this one seemed pretty decent, moist in the middle with a crisp exterior. The fried chicken was solid too, nice and crunchy on the outside while still being juicy in the middle. Not bad at all.

Second up was the Steak & Cheese Hash (14,000).  A mix of seasoned steak, onions, peppers, cheddar, potatoes, and spicy mayo.  From the picture I was expecting a large hash brown, however what showed up was a big old pile of tater tots. The cheese and steak topped tots went down well, I mean cheese and potato is always a good combo, throw in some nice pieces of steak and a spicy sauce and it is pretty much a party. One of the more expensive items on the menu, due to the steak but we enjoyed them a lot.

Lastly we had the Nashville Hot (9,000). A Cheddar biscuit with sweet compote, jalapeno, spicy fried chicken, and ranch coleslaw. This one was probably my favourite. It has all my favourite things, carbs, fried chicken, coleslaw, and sweet and spicy sauces. Hell to the yeah, this baby is so worth being fat for.

Overall I really enjoyed this place, I’m always looking for something new and this is definitely different. The food was actually pretty great, even to us non Americans. Myself and my Korean friends all really enjoyed it and we left pleasantly full. I also thought the prices were pretty reasonable for the most part too, it is so nice to find a meal around or under the 10,000 mark these days. I’ll certainly be heading back next time I’m in Apgujeong.

Buttermilk Biscuit Co is located at 566-14, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Apgujeong Station (line 3) and come out of exit 4. Take the right immediately after the exit and then take the first left. Walk five blocks then turn right at the 7-11. Buttermilk Biscuit Co is a little way down this street on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 025153964 or check out their facebook page. They are closed only on Tuesdays, open at 11:30am -7:00pm  and take a break from 3pm – 4pm.

Seoul’s Best Burger

Move over Fashion week, it is time for Seoul’s most important event, American Burger Week! Well technically it’s burger fortnight. From April 14th –  28th, 13 of Seoul’s burger restaurants will be participating in the special event which is being hosted by the US Beef Council. The restaurants involved are Gony’s, Gilbert’s Burger & Fries, NY B&B, The Melting Pot, Devils door, Rye Post, Meat & Bun, Burger B, Say cheese, Itaewon the Burger, Kinders, Firebell, and Fingertips. I’m told that all the restaurants in question use American beef and will be running promotions and giveaways for the two weeks. Now I  haven’t been to all of the restaurants in question,  but I have been to a fair few, some I was in love with, some not so much. So as it’s burger week and all, I thought I would use this opportunity to list my favourite places in Seoul to get a burger.

1. Itaewon the Burger – This baby while still quite new is absolutely top of my list, number one because the burgers are flame grilled hunks of deliciousness but also because it’s in my neigbourhood. There are two burgers that I love here. The Big Double Burger (12,900) which includes two meat patties, bacon and cheese, or the Avocadict burger (13,800), which includes a mountain of avocado, a beef patty, cheese, bacon, pickles, special sauce, lettuce and tomato. The prize for number one probably has to go to the Big Double, as the Avocadict although delicious fails at being a burger slightly by being so impossible to eat.

.

2. NY B&B – This place is my Gangnam go to. Again this place is fairly new, but they have really came up with some awesome homemade burgers. The Wasabi Burger (11,500) is probably my favourite. This delight is topped with Pepper Jack cheese, grilled onion, shiitake mushroom, and wasabi mayo. As much as I love wasabi I was first a little skeptical about this meaty treat but it has ended up being my favourite on their menu. The menu is pretty large, so there is something for everyone. Special mentions for the Once in a Bleu Moon and the Bubba Gump which were both pretty good too.

3. Gony’s – Gony’s is a new comer to me and I was kinda torn between this one and Gilbert for third place but I decided to give Gony’s the edge because they also serve a mean chicken burger and that is pretty hard thing to find in Seoul. On the beef front the Bacon Cheeseburger (9,800) is pure perfection and everything you are looking for in a good old fashioned burger.

4. Gilbert’s Burgers & Fries – Gilbert’s always serves a good burger and they have quite a few locations too, making it the most accessible on the list. My favourite burger on their menu is the 5oz Gilbert (10,500). This one is topped with American cheese, red onion, tomato, lettuce, bacon, fried egg, and a homemade sauce. As you can see from above the egg yolk oozes out of the side of the burger which really gets my motor running and adds an extra richness to the burger.

5. WinK – Last place on this list goes to WinK who have been making some really solid burgers for the past year. I’m kinda torn when it comes to choosing my favourite though. I adore The Mega Burger (14,000), which has everything but the kitchen sink on it but it really works. Inside the buttered bun is a 150g whole beef patty, pulled pork, several kinds of cheese, egg, avocado, lettuce onions, tomato, and mayo. However I’m also partial to the brand new Mushroom & Emmental burger (11,500), which I tried on my last brunch visit. So I guess it depends on whether you like mushrooms or not.

Do you agree or disagree? Have I missed out your favourite? Please comment below with your thoughts about Seoul’s best burger.  For more details about Korea Burger Week  check out their website. For full reviews and directions of the restaurants please click the links above.

WinK – Brunch

Last weekend I headed over to Wink in Gyodae to check out the Southside boys’ Surfside Pop Up. While I was there I figured I might as well eat some brunch too, that and I was slightly concerned I’d end up getting shit faced if I didn’t. Cocktails on an empty stomach never bodes well for me, so to make sure I didn’t get too carried away on Sunday Funday I ordered about half the menu.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it isn’t brunch without Eggs Benedict. Luckily WinK offers several different varieties all priced at 9,900. I was really torn as they all sounded delicious but in the end the avocado version which comes with pico de gallo was my choice. As you can see from the video above the eggs were absolutely perfect, there was plenty of avocado and a nice generous salad on the side. My only gripe is that there was no hollandaise. The other three versions come with a creamy sauce, but if you are picky about such things you’ve been warned.

Being a fried chicken lover I also had to get the fried chicken topped french toast (15,500), too. A big slab of crispy fried chicken was mounted upon a fluffy piece of french toast. If you are really wanting an extra unhealthy southern style breakfast then this is it. We poured all the the accompanying maple syrup on top and I have to say it was pretty damned good. I love a sweet and salty combo, and the crispiness of the chicken was a nice comparison to the pillowy texture of the french toast. It’s a touch on the pricey side but very filling so you could possibly share it, though I don’t think you’d want to.

Lastly I tried the Mushroom & Emmental Burger (11,500).  This came topped with four kinds of mushrooms, a slathering of melted Emmental, red onion, and lettuce with Dijon mustard. I’ve always really liked the Wink burgers and this one was no exception. I love me some mushrooms, especially with cheese so it was a winning combination to me, the only change I’d make would be to swap out the lettuce for some rocket to make it a bit more peppery. It got a big mmm when I bit into it though.

Overall I was very impressed with my WinK brunch, my friend has been trying to drag me there to try it for an age now and sheer laziness has prevented me from going. The food was really good, and is definitely worth the trip across town. They also offer a bottomless brunch on weekends, which is quite rare in Seoul. I was there to try the Southside cocktails, but I shall certainly be giving it a try on my next visit.

WinK is located at 2F, 1576-6, Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Seoul National University of Education (lines 2 & 3). Come out of exit 14 and walk straight, WinK is about 100 meters down the street on the second floor. For more information you can call them on 02-6053-3429 or check out their facebook page.

JL Dessert Bar – Cherry Blossom Pop Up

Last weekend was I was invited to a very special event at JL Dessert bar, a place I have been meaning to try for ages. The event was in honour of the majesty that is Cherry Blossom season. In Korea, nothing says Spring like a walk along the river, and fighting your way through crowds of other eager beavers trying to get the perfect selfie with the elusive cherry blossoms before they wither away and die. Since I don’t do so well with crowds I figured this seasonal dessert pop up was much more my bag.

JL Dessert bar, is located near Gangnam District Office station and is unsurprisingly a bar that specializes in cocktails, wine and desserts. What a novel idea, for many people dessert is the best part of the meal so why not skip ahead straight to the good stuff? It’s also ideal for those on a first date who don’t want to risk sitting through an entire meal. Our event was a one day special promotion for cherry blossom season which cost 45,000 for 2 people. this included three desserts and wine pairings, plus a few special spring goodies.

Our first dish to try was the Cherry blossom special, which was a sweet mix of cherry blossom, strawberry, blueberry, lemon and white chocolate. First of all I adored the personal plating, I love anything with my name on it. The star attraction of the dish was the white chocolate orb, that when broken into revealed a sweet and creamy mousse which reminded me of candy floss. Paired with the fruit and broken shards of meringue it was a real melange of tastes and textures. It was rather impressive. The wine paired with this one was a Blueroth Riesling, a sweet and dessert wine which really enhanced the dessert.

Our second dish was the adorable Petit Gateaux, this was probably my favourite of the desserts. Again a soft exterior but with a biscuity crunch at the bottom and lovely layer of strawberry jam, this was so scrummy, I was a tad upset to be sharing it. This one was paired with a German Brut, I think we all know how much I enjoy a glass of bubbly so this was ideal for me, and it was nice to have something to take the edge off the sweetness of the dish.

Lastly we ate the stunningly beautiful Cherry Blossom macarons. These were pressed with a dried cherry blossom which was such a lovely touch.  Again I wish there had been more, I could have eaten them all afternoon long. These we paired with the Vampire, Merlot rose, which i think might have been my favourite of the three wines, although it might have been because I was a little bit tipsy by that point.

Overall we had a fabulous afternoon, I felt very grown up going for dessert and wine tasting. They are planning to host similar pop ups in the future which  shall certainly keep abreast of, but for the time being they also have an a la carte menu where most of the desserts cost 15,000, or a set menu of 4 courses for 40,000 which I’m sure you could share between two. All the desserts also come with recommended cocktail pairings too.

JL Dessert Bar is located at 14, Seolleung-ro 120-Gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Gangnam-Guchon Station (line 7) and come out of exit 1. Walk straight and turn right the first chance you get. Walk straight for three blocks and then go left. You should see JL Dessert Bar just ahead of you on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-543-6140, or check out their facebook page. They are open from 12pm-11pm everyday.

Jung Sik

Every since I was 10 years old and I visited Marco Pierre White’s Criterion, I have had a penchant for fine dining. While it is a hobby I can not afford to practice as much as I would like, it is a passion none the less. Seoul is certainly a youngster in this arena, however big steps have been made in the last few years, with Seoul even getting its own Michelin guide at the end of 2016.  One of those stars was awarded to Jungsik, which has always been highly regarded as one of Seoul’s best restaurants. I actually got my first taste of Chef Jungsik Yim’s food when I visited their bar, which is located downstairs. But Valentines Day provided  me my boyfriend, with the perfect excuse to splash out and finally get to try a whole meal.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, though we opted for the former. There are three different set menus available at at lunch, a four course for 60,000 per person, a five course for 80,000 per person or an eight course tasting menu for 150,000 . As it was lunch we decided to just stick with the four course. The meal comes with an appetiser, a rice course, a fish or meat course, and a dessert. However as it was a super fancy meal an amuse bouche was also included. And as amuse bouches go, this one was pretty impressive. There were five different elements within the dish. A corn dog, or at least their fancy take on it, fried potato on a stick, a salmon ice cream cone, a rice and seaweed wrap and a radish and fish pancake. A great way to kick off the meal. It being a special occasion and all, we also ordered a bottle of champagne, well, Cava (60,000), but it all looks the same in the glass. The wine list was actually pretty large and the prices were fairly reasonable. Considering what some bars in Itaewon charge, their prices were not bad at all.

No sooner than the champagne selfies had been taken, our first courses arrived. My starter was pretty much my idea of food heaven. The simply titled “Mushroom” left a lot to the imagination, but all was revealed when it was presented to me. Nestled under a forest of delicious buttery mushrooms was a crispy egg. Once I broke through its crunchy exterior a golden yolk oozed out and provided the perfect sauce for the mushrooms. It was exquisite.

My beloved instead chose the crispy octopus with gochujang aioli (10,000 won surcharge). This dish was similar to one of the dishes we enjoyed at the bar on our previous visit. As you can see, it was a visually stunning dish. This is the kind of plating I yearn to learn.The aioli had a hint of spice to it without being overpowering, while the meaty piece of tentacle had a crispy outside. Personally I liked mine the best, but he suffers from an intense dislike of mushrooms, and so preferred his.

After the appetisers we were given the rice course. I opted for the kimbap, while TFB tried the Aromatic rice with barley and perilla oil. Both dishes were beautifully presented but the kimbap really stole the show in terms of flavour thanks to the kimchi tartar sauce, and the crunchiness of the seaweed. I thought this to be the most traditional of the dishes we tried, and really incorporated a lot of the most popular Korean flavours.

For our main we both selected the lamb with ginger vinaigrette as it’s one of our favourite meats, but this was probably the least favourite dish of the meal for me. The lamb had been cooked very slowly but there really wasn’t much flavour and the texture was a bit amiss. TFB in particular likes his lamb “lamby” and was a little disappointed. The dish was not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it just lacked a bit of oomph.

Luckily we ended on a high note with a collection of desserts. The Cheongdam Pie, aka apple pie, was pretty special. Caramel sauce, apple puree, and ice cream were layered upon two crispy biscuits. It was a total “Mmm” moment. We also tried the Dolhareubang, a green tea mousse concoction that is their signature dessert. Let’s face it is kind of a work of art. The sesame coated man, in the shape of one of Jeju’s famous Hareubang, was filled with green tea and chocolate ganache. He was rather delicious indeed.

Overall I’d say that Jung Sik just about met my expectations, and we had a very enjoyable lunch. It’s the ideal date restaurant for when you want somewhere special. It’s really exciting to see Korean ingredients used in this way, so I’m glad I finally got to try it. By the time we polished off our coffee and petit fours, we were pleasantly full. The bill came in at just under 200,000 which I thought was good considering we had a bottle of bubbly too. The menu is the same for both the lunch and the dinner service, except the lunch is about half the price, so take that into consideration if you are on a budget. You could also try eating at the bar downstairs if you are unable to get a reservation, as they offer a lot of the restaurants most popular dishes, and a very large selection of wines by the glass.

Jung Sik 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 restaurant is the second floor. For more info/reservations you can call them on +82 2 517 4654, or visit their website. Reservations are taken up to one month in advance and are recommended.

Korea Travel Expo 2017

For the past few weeks I have been off on my holidays globe trotting around the majestic lands of Cambodia, but now I’m back and it’s time to get excited about all things Korean again. This month sees the hosting of the 2017 Korea Travel Expo, which showcases everything related to tourism within Korea. This exhilarating expo is free to those who pre-register, and takes place at COEX in Samseongdong, Seoul from February 16th (Thur) to February 19th (Sun). Some of the hosts this year include the  Ministry of Magic Culture, Sports, and Tourism, as well as the Korea Tourism Association. At this year’s event there will be over 650 booths hosted by a mix of local governments and nationwide organizations, making this the largest tourism exhibition in Korea.

So what can one expect to see at such an event? The main theme of the Korea Travel Expo is New Discovery about My Country. As it’s name implies, little-known great restaurants, beautiful spots, and streets will be introduced with a concept of “taste the beauty of ROK.” This is the perfect chance to find out about Korea’s hidden gems. Visitors will also be treated to cultural experiences from throughout the nation as well as being able to purchase locally produced food items not currently available in Seoul. Plus all kinds of travel information will be provided by tourist service businesses such as hotels, travel agencies, resorts, theme parks and transportation companies.

There will also be lectures by popular travel writers as well as the opportunity to buy souvenirs from all over Korea. Storytellers, culture, and tour guides from the regions of Korea will be waiting for guests at booths which will be spread throughout the hall allowing visitors to get firsthand information to help them plan their next Korean getaway. The “experience zone” will introduce various performances and cultural insight giving not only pleasure but also valuable experience to guests. So if you are at a loose end this February why not sign up and visit this exciting expo, there will a be a whole host of things to see and do, plus its free and not outside.

The Korea Travel Expo is being held at COEX exhibition center from February 16th (Thur) to February 19th (Sun). You can can preregister for FREE tickets here! For more information you can visit the Travel Expo website (Korean only) or visit their facebook page.