Tag: review

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.

Mal Car

My neighbourhood of Gyeongridan is a treasure trove of unique and one of kind shops, bars, and restaurants. And one of its most hidden gems is my new favourite coffee shop Mal Car. Mal Car is a vintage automobile themed cafe, which is set over three floors and is full of quiet nooks and crannies to sit in. The place is festooned with all sorts of car themed knickknacks, even the outside tables are made from what looks like old bus doors. It is certainly a quirky place, and like no where else I have been before. It is located up on the Hyatt hill in a hidden residential alley, if it wasn’t for the sign on the main street you’d never find it, luckily I was invited so had the address.

It being a coffee shop and all, we thought we should start with a coffee. After placing our order we were given the most adorable shopping basket to help carry everything upstairs which I thought was a nice touch. I went for their signature Cloud Coffee (6,500), which is their version of the Vienna style, probably the coolest coffee in the city right now. I love creamy coffees so this was perfect for me, my only complaint is that I wish it had been sweeter, I would probably add a shot of vanilla syrup next time, but overall it was nice drink and coffee lovers should be impressed. My assistant Elizabeth ordered herself a refreshing Sunset Ade (6,500) to beat the heat. The colourful ade was super refreshing and had an almost sherberty fruity taste. We both really enjoyed it, but I thought it could be even better with a shot of vodka!

The Cinnamon Rolls are a speciality at Mal Car, so we had to give one a try. They have several different variations but we opted for the Original (4,600). Just looking at it, it was easy to tell why they are famous for them and boy were they good. Warm in the middle so the frosting kinda melted and you could sop it all up like a sweet and buttery gravy. The texture of the bun itself was super soft, and it had a good blend of spices without being over powering. Honestly I don’t think I have stopped thinking about these big bountiful buns ever since, they are addictively good, and not to be missed.

Besides the buns, Mal Car also offers a whole range of baked breads and cakes. After gazing over their dazzling array of desserts we decided to try the Humming Bird (6,600), as it was too pretty to resist. The banana and pineapple spiced cake was topped with a nice thick layer of cream cheese frosting and an adorable pineapple flower. The sponge had a lovely hint of pineapple, though I didn’t get much of the banana coming through. We both enjoyed the lovely creamy cheese frosting, and appreciated that it wasn’t too sweet. Being two very greedy girls we also got a Carrot Cake (6,200) too! This was really incredible, so moist and had a really nice balance of spices with a hint of orange. The cake itself was the star here, but the frosting was also good too. I was green with envy when eating this because it was even better than my recipe which I have always considered to be one of the best around.

Overall I thought Mal Car was a gorgeous cafe with fabulous cakes, breads and coffees. The Cinnamon Rolls in particular were incredible and I’ve not tasted one as good as this in Seoul before. The theme really sets it apart and there is seating inside and out. In a city filled with big chain places, these are the small places I love to support, so I will definitely be going back again soon, especially as it is very close to my house.

Mal Car is located at 48-10 Hoenamu-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul.  To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight until you reach the underpass, go through and exit using the stairs on the left hand side. Follow this road around passing the church and Paris Baguette, walk up the hill towards the Hyatt. Keep going up the hill and look out for the Mal Car sign after you pass the big GS, its in a small residential alley way just after passing Baskin Robbins. Go down the alleyway and you will see Mal Car on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-790-2310 or visit their facebook page. They are open from Tuesday – Sunday from 1pm – 11pm

Trench Town

I’m not going to lie, I know little to nothing about Caribbean food, despite it being a reasonably popular cuisine in Britain. However when I heard a new Caribbean restaurant had opened up in Itaewon I was damn eager to give it a try. Trench Town is located on ‘Furniture Road’, or ‘Taco Bell Street’ as I like to call it. It’s located in an old furniture shop a little down the way from Itaewon Station. As it’s a little set back from the main road you could easily miss it, but hopefully the beach-hut-like fringe and neon sign will alert you to its presence.

Once inside the restaurant is pretty roomy, with a fun beach side themed bar taking prominence in the entry way. This reminded me of how much I needed a drink so we soon got to ordering. Rum cocktails make up the menu, and boy oh boy are they darn tasty. After two visits I have had pretty much tried all of the drinks on the menu and they are all pretty awesome. The Hurricane (13,000) is probably my favourite, not only is it a fruity blend of Plantation rum, lime, orange juice and passion fruit syrup, but it also comes topped with the most adorable little broken umbrella on the top. However I also have a lot of love for the Dark and Stormy (10,000) and the Mai Tai (12,000). They have a killer rum section for sure, I’ve not seen anywhere else that has a supply to rival it. if you are really into rum you can buy it by the bottle too.

As it is still in soft opening phase the menu is quite small. They serve a couple of individual plates which cost between 15,000 – 22,000 and some larger sharing platters which are more. Being a larger group we decided to get one each of the platters for two. First up were the Jerk Ribs (38,000) which come with a big mound of coconut rice and beans, coleslaw, and a side of gravy. I enjoyed these a lot, they were tender and smokey, while the meat on the ribs came away easily from the bone without falling off. The Jerk sauce was good too, not enough to burn, but enough heat to make your lips tingle.

The second platter we ordered was the Trench Town Platter (34,000). This one came with jerk chicken, curry goat, more rice, and the three sides of your choice. We opted for the dumplings, fries, and coleslaw with this one. Jerk chicken is probably the most famous Jamaican dish. If you’ve had and liked the Jamaican sandwich at Rye Post you’ll be in for a treat, as the owners are the same. The chicken was tender and flavourful without being too spicy, as I have not had it before I don’t really have anything to compare it too but we liked it, though not quite as much as the ribs. Also on this platter is the Goat Curry, again this was my first time trying it and I was reasonably impressed. The curry was flavourful without being too hot, and the goat meat was tender. There were a few too many bones in it for my liking, though I’d imagine goat is not one of the easiest ingredients to get hold of so the supply is probably limited. The star side for me were the dumplings, they remind me of a chicken ball without the chicken. I kind of wish they had something inside but they were moreish none the less.

Last up was the Reggae Platter (32,000) which came with tiger shrimps, lamb chops and the choice of three sides. The lamb chops were my favourite on this one by far. They were glazed with an incredibly tamarind glaze which was addictively good. The meat was so soft and juicy while the fat was perfectly cooked. They are probably some of the best lamb chops I have ever eaten in Korea, I was gnawing on those bones like I hadn’t eaten in weeks. You can actually get these as a side order too, so be sure to add them on if you end up going for one of the other platters. The shrimps were nice enough too, though not as remarkable as some of the other dishes. On this platter we tried the plantains and sweet potato fries too, which I also enjoyed, they would make it into the top three side dishes along with the dumplings, though you know I am a sucker for anything deep fried.

Overall I was really impressed with his place, it is not always easy to find places where the cocktails are as good as the food, but this ticked all my boxes. The prices are a touch steep if there are just two of you eating, but if you are a big group then it works out quite nicely.  We all left happy, and if you are looking to try something new this weekend then Trench Town should hit the spot.

Trench Town is located at 105 Bogwang-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul.  To get there take a train to Itaewon Station and come out of exit 4. Turn back on yourself and walk down the ‘Taco Bell Street’. Keep walking down this street past all of the furniture shops. You will see Trench Town on the right hand side, just before you get to the fork in the road. For more information you can call them on 027949992 or checkout their facebook page. They are open Tue-Sunday from 5:30pm-10:30pm, although they are planning to open for lunch in the near future.

Hilton Hotel – Kota Kinabalu

If you have been reading this blog regularly and following me on Instagram and YouTube then you’ll be well aware that I have been living it up In Kota Kinabalu, Borneo. While we enjoyed a sumptuous stay at the beautiful Rasa Ria Resort, we also enjoyed a few days in the city. We were lucky enough to be offered a stay at the brand spanking new Hilton Hotel. This place is so new you can still smell the paint, it has only been open for just a few short months but is already one of the hottest hotels in town.

The team at the Hilton hooked us up with the most fabulous one bedroom suite. It was awesome, this place was even bigger than my apartment back in Seoul. There was a gigantic bed, double sink bathroom with a bath and a shower, dressing room, living room with two TV’s, office, dining room, and a guest bathroom. Like seriously, it kinda made me wish we had friends to invite over and show off to. had there been more of the two of us it would have been a great spot to host a party.

After the most relaxing night sleeping in our incredibly big King sized bed, we headed down to try the breakfast. Although I do enjoy the elegance of a private breakfast, we decided to have breakfast in the main restaurant Urban Kitchen instead of the club lounge, as my greedy self just couldn’t resist seeing what was on offer at the breakfast buffet. I have eaten at a hell of a lot of hotel buffets and this one was pretty epic. There was a killer baked goods section with everything you could want and more, including sprinkled, pink, Homer Simpson style donuts! There were also fresh fruits, juices and smoothies, cereal, yogurt, deli meats, cheese and salads, a western breakfast hot style buffet which included eggs to order, as well as an Asian hot section which is where I spent most of my time. Nothing makes me happier than eating spring rolls, fried noodles, and curry for breakfast. Honestly it was kind of amazing how many different dishes were there, I can’t imagine ever getting bored. I also loved the fact that they included local dishes within the menu too, it was nice to see another sota station, clearly these fresh bowls of noodle soup are the go to breakfast in Borneo.

One of the hotels best features is the fabulous roof top pool. The pool is surrounded by lovely comfy sun beds for you to laze the day away on. There are also tonnes of sumptuous sofas and day beds in the shade for those who burn easily (I’m looking at you TFB). As well as the beautiful pool, the rooftop has a pretty incredible view,  in fact it was so hard to peel ourselves away for lunch we ended up ordering a couple of burgers from the restaurant and staying put. Food and drinks delivered to my daybed, that really is living the dream as far as I’m concerned. As well as the pool, the hotel also boasts a big ass gym and sauna. Not that I would ever use it for anything other than picking up free bottles of water, but I appreciate having it there.

On our first night we enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Rooftop Bar & Grill. We were pretty knackered from all the travelling we had done, so decided to get dinner in the hotel.  The menu has a very Australian feel about it with lots of surf and turf like options. I decided to try Sabah Green Tailed Lobster (98MYR) which was served with buttered mushrooms, mixed salad, fired courgette flowers and pea puree. I never turn down lobster, when given the chance to eat it, and I really loved the way it was served with pureed peas. It was like an uber posh fish and chips. TFB true to form got himself a big ass steak. The 350g Black Angus (220MYR) if I’m not mistaken. The steak was served with proper fat chips, which I have longed for them ever since. Our dinner ended with a chocolate brownie with popping candy and celebrity sighting (sort of). At the next table was Dereck of The Holidaze, another travel blogger and perpetual nomad who filled us in on all his Borneo adventures. What a night!

As we were staying in a one bed suite we had access to the exclusive Executive Club lounge. As an executive business woman who does important executive business it is always nice to have a special place to do that. The open plan kitchen is stocked with free drinks and snacks for you to enjoy until your heart is content, however the party really gets started between 5pm-7pm as they offer free cocktails and canapes too. It’s a great way to unwind after a hard day of eating and lying by the pool. It was not my first time enjoying this kind of service but boy did we get our money worth (not that we paid, but you get the idea). I relaxed over Moscow Mules while my beloved enjoyed a refreshing beer or six. There was also a well stocked pre-dinner dining section. The food was different each night but some of the most memorable items were dumplings, curry, fried rice and noodles, as well as a dazzling array of mini cakes and desserts. You could easily skip dinner and fill up here if you liked, though as a diligent and hard working food blogger, I would never skip a meal.

Overall I can’t recommend this hotel enough, if you are looking for a luxurious stay in the city that wont break the bank then this is it. The location is fabulous (next door to the famous Welcome Seafood restaurant), and it’s close to the airport if you have an early or late flight. If you have the funds then I would definitely recommend upgrading to the club level, especially if you eat and drink as much as we do.  Rooms start at 400 MYR per night. For more information or to book a room please visit the hotel website.

Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort – Sabah, Borneo

Sometimes my life is fabulously chic, and these past few days have been one of those occasions. I was lucky enough to be invited to come and stay at the spectacular Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort in Sabah, Borneo earlier this week. Borneo has always been at the top of my list for places to visit, and when I saw where we would be staying I couldn’t book my plane ticket fast enough. There are half a dozen airlines that fly directly from Seoul, making it just a hop, skip, and a jump away. The resort has been open for 20 years, and at this stage has virtually every amenity you could imagine. Private beach, golf course, two pools, gym, a nature reserve, and a spa just to name a few.

We stayed in the very beautiful Ocean wing, where every room comes with an oversized outdoor bathtub on the balcony. The room itself was very spacious, with a gigantic bed big enough for four, a twin-sinked bathroom, a walk in wardrobe, and of course the aforementioned tub on the giant balcony. Guests staying in the Ocean wing are treated to a complimentary fruit/snack platter and minibar, which was stocked with beers and soft drinks for you to enjoy until your heart is content. Ocean Wing guests also get to enjoy a complimentary cocktail and canape hour down in the courtyard, which we of course partook in too and sampled a very nice tropical cocktail as well as some local snacks. It’s so nice to be able to unwind with a few drinks without worrying abut the cost, so this was a real plus point for us. The most luxurious feature of the room is probably the “indulgence” bath on your very own balcony, with a choice of rose petals, bubbles, or bath salts (once for free and 50MYR for additional baths). We had a very romantic bubble bath at sunset, which was just the thing to refresh us after a long day of sight seeing.

Our day started with breakfast at Oceano restaurant, which offers up the standard hotel buffet fare, along with an a la carte menu with items such as Eggs Benedict, frittatas, and local specialty nasi goreng. The nasi goreng was especially good, as were the made to order omelettes. Honestly i don’t think there was anything that you could want that wasn’t available. TFB particularly enjoyed the deli meats and cheese and tended to have a charcuterie to begin his day, while I was thrilled to find a juicer, and a huge array of fresh fruits and vegetables to pack in some vitamins alongside my Eggs Benedict, pastries, and fried rice.

One of my goals when I travel is to eat as much of the local food as possible, however when I get home, a lot of the time the delicious treats I have been stuffing my self with are unavailable to me, which is where a cooking class comes in. Learning to cook from local chefs gives a real insight into the food culture of an area, as you can really see what gets put into the dishes that you have enjoyed. In our class with Chef Chiew we learned to make the famous butter Prawns, using the gigantic tiger prawns found locally. I have never seen anything like these before, they were bigger than a babies arm! We also whipped up the Tuaran Mee, which is a local specialty noodle dish, and the chef added some satay as it’s one of my favourite dishes. All of the food was fantastic and the only thing that could compete for my attention was the breathtaking view of the ocean as we sat at our beach side table.

One of the activities that was arranged for us as part of our stay was a boat trip along the Mengkabong river(156 MYR per person). The river is the home of the Bajaus tribe, a lot of whom still live in traditional wooden houses built on the water. The saltwater river is home to an abundance of sea creatures, from which the Bajaus fishermen earn their livings. In particular mud crabs, tiger prawns and oysters can be found there. The river itself is peaceful and calm, and there is a real sense of calm isolation once you reach some of the narrower, mangrove surrounded, stretches of the river. We were then taken to the water village to sample some local coffee and a kind of fried cake made from rice flour, water, and brown sugar. The coffee was very sweet, and the fried cakes were tasty. The trip ended with us returning to our crab traps, which we had set up on the way out, to inspect our catch. As luck would have it, we had caught a couple of small mud crabs, and a solitary jellyfish, all of which we returned to the murky, muddy depths to be caught another day. This trip was a real highlight for me, it would not have been something that I would ordinarily arrange to do, as I tend to lean more towards food themed activities, however I was pleasantly surprised with the trip along the tranquil river, and highly recommend it, if you get a chance.

The property has maybe half a dozen restaurants within its grounds, but we opted to try the Japanese Teppanyaki-Kozan. For those unfamiliar with Teppanyaki, it is the style of cooking where a chef prepares your dishes in front of you on an iron grill, the teppan. This tends to be one of the more fun and interactive styles of dining, as you can build up a rapport with your chef as they prepare a selection of delicious treats for your enjoyment. At Kozan, there are several different set menus available, as well as the option to order a la carte. Given my aversion to fishy fish, I picked the more land based Akita set(159 MYR), whereas TFB went for the more mixed Kozan set(295 MYR). Out of all of the dishes we got to try from the two set menus, the standout was the Fois Gras. It was cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth without having too much of the oiliness sometimes associated with fois gras. We also loved our steaks, which were still pink in the middle and melt in the mouth despite the epic flames that engulfed them during one of the tricks. Our chef Ben, was entertaining throughout our dinner, and while he didn’t quite manage to succeed in performing his egg trick, he did however put smiles on our faces with his stories.

The resort is located on a large plot of land, part of which is a nature reserve. On one of our mornings we got up at the ungodly hour of 6am to hike up to the top of the nature reserve for breakfast (98 MYR per person or 498 per couple with a bottle of champagne). Very un-fatgirl-like, I know, but it was a thousand percent worth it. Our friendly guide Sabinus led us up the trail, pointing out various interesting plants,as well as the tree snakes that we needed to be wary of. The hike, while not being longer than 30 mins, was definitely enough to work up a good sweat, especially in the tropical heat, so when we were greeted by a cool breeze at the top of the path, it was with palpable relief. A light breakfast of fruit and pastries had been laid out for us, and we sat down to eat with a view of the majestic Mount Kinabalu away in the distance, and the Bornean coastline stretching away to the horizon. Honestly it was incredibly humbling to be able to enjoy the stunning scenery in such an exclusive way, this is one for the bucket list for sure.

After our morning hike, and a second breakfast back at Oceano…, we wandered down to the beach-side pavilion for the combo massage. This was combo reflexology massage(239 MYR) for the back, shoulders, and feet, and I can honestly say it was one of the best massages I have had, and I’ve had about a thousand.  Lying out next to the sea and having all the tension massaged away was exactly what I needed and the state of bliss stayed with us for the rest of the day.

Having enjoyed breakfast in the Oceano restaurant each day, it seemed fitting to go and have a look at what is on the actual menu throughout the day. Rather than order something from the menu, the head chef, Luca, came out and said he would make us “something”, which is always fun. We ended up trying several dishes, some familiar, some not so much. We started with a take on one of our favourite salads, the caprese. As you can see above the juice from the tomatoes had been made into a kind of jelly which sat atop a a huge ball of fresh mozzarella. The star dish for me was probably Chef Luca’s incredible gnocchi, it was so soft it was like a cloud was melting in my mouth. The meal ended with the tiramisu, which was a novel spin on the classic Italian dessert. The dish is made a la minute, with biscuits, cream, and two kinds of meringue. A shot of espresso is then poured over the dish at the table, before being quickly absorbed by the biscuits. This method results in the tiramisu having a real punch of flavour, and the coffee meringue on top added a balancing crunch. This was a fabulous meal to end our stay, and we left with full bellies.

Although our time at the stunning Rasa Ria was all too short, it was incredibly sweet and I cannot recommend this place enough.The staff were truly wonderful, and every last person we encountered went out of their way to make sure we were taken care of. This culminated in them gathering together to sing a farewell song as we departed, which was the perfect touch to say goodbye. If you are looking to get away from it all and indulge yourself it is the perfect location, and if you are in the mood to get out there and really explore Borneo it is perfect for that too. Rooms in the ocean wing average 1400 MYR per night. For more details about the resort or to make a booking please visit their website.

Ryunique

It has been just over a year since I last visited Chef Ryu’s signature restaurant Ryunique in Sinsa. I have been to its sister restaurant Normal several times since, however it isn’t very often that I am lucky enough to enjoy a meal as sumptuous as the 20 course one here. When they released their new menu I was given the opportunity to go and give it a try. The signature dinner menu does not come cheap, at a cool 230,000 per person, but if you are looking for something really special that will knock your socks off, then this is it.

 

We arrived at the classically chic and inviting restaurant, and were greeted by the very friendly(and rather handsome) Maitre D.  I don’t want to reveal all the secrets that were unravelled, so I’m just going to share my favourite dish or two from each course. Our meal began with a series of amuse bouche courses. The amuse bouches were a real mix but of our four, that’s right four, my favourite was the mackerel which was charcoal cooked on the outside but raw and mixed with sour cream on the inside. It was served with wasabi powder that had been flash frozen in liquid nitrogen. The amuse bouche course finished with the most delightful Korean melon palette cleanser with mint and lime.

 

 

The mushroom course was the star appetizer for me. Served in two parts, the first being lions mane mushrooms that were a mixture of fresh and fried with little pipettes of white truffle mayo. Served along with the Lion’s Mane were the absolutely scrummy black truffle mushroom cookies. The second part of the dish was the fantastic soup. Topped with a mushroom crisp lid, this was a cloud of mushroomy foamy goodness, made even better by the little cheese bubble that melted when popped into the soup.

This season’s signature dish of quail came in two parts. First up was a garlic fed quail breast, which was encrusted with 10 mixed Korean grains, and a jus reduction of quail gravy on the side which was just magically intense(probably because it was made from an entire quail!). It was accompanied by a beetroot puree which added a splash of colour and hint of earthiness and finally the cutest little golden chicken which was made of of potato, to celebrate 2017, the year of the Rooster.

Part two was their fancy take on Samgyetang, one of my favourite Korean soups. Rather than the traditional cloudy broth typically associated with Samgyetang, this version is based on a consomme style clear broth, which was light and full of flavour. A quail leg wrapped in a mustard leaf and a deep fried quail egg sat perched upon a bed of noodles, sweet snap peas, and a mixture of fried and fresh ginseng. It was a great modern representation of a classic Korean dish.

After a series of other main courses, we finished with Chapter 2, a series of desserts, tea, coffee and petit fours. The favourite for us was the pastry chef’s signature dish Stone Texture, no prizes for guessing why. This dish consisted of mandarin ice cream coated in chocolate and black sesame powder, and caramelized chocolate pudding and pistachio. The rock like exterior really hid the soft sweet flavours inside and it was such a delightful surprise at the end of a wonderful meal.

Since my last visit, there have been even more Korean ingredients and elements added to the menu, the map given to us at the beginning of the meal showed us exactly where each of the dishes was sourced from, which I thought a nice touch. As always the creativity and time going into the food blows my mind and if you are looking for something truly special then Ryunique has a lot to offer. If the 230,000 won 20 course dinner is a bit rich for your blood, you may want to try their lunch menu instead which is half the size and price. You can also of course also visit Normal, which is their second, bistro style restaurant located just around the corner.

Ryunique is located at 520-1 SInsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sinsa Station(line 3) and come out of exit 8. Take the first left and then right and quickly left again. Walk about halfway down this road and turn left just before you hit Mr. Holmes Bakery. Ryunique is just 50 metres or so along this street on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-546-9279, or check out their website.

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.

Gony’s

I think we all know how I enjoy a burger or four, but you might also know how picky I am. And how I often struggle to find burgers I truly  love in Seoul. Some time ago, an old friend recommended Gony’s to me, but the fact it was located across the city put me off giving it a try. Well last weekend I was in the neighbourhood and couldn’t resist giving it a try. The restaurant is located a stop or two away from Wangsimni at Ttukseom Resort station. This neighbourhood actually has some cool stuff happening, as we were walking around looking for it we passed a bakery with a queue I haven’t seen since the glory days of the churros, considering it was raining at the time it was very impressive, but I digress. We were on our way to Gony’s for a banging burger.

The spot is really cute and has a couple of seats outside, and plenty more large benches and booths inside. The menu is actually quite sizeable, well the Korean version is, the English one is probably in need of updating. We were a rather big group so we were able to take full advantage of it. There are a handful of beef burgers, some chicken burgers and other side dishes, and milkshakes. They also had beers and what looks like a reasonably stocked bar if you like a side of shitfaced with your burger.

I had to try the Bacon Cheeseburger (9,800). I was very tempted to go for the double, but thought I should stick with the single to really test their muster. Homemade brioche buns are pretty much a standard requirement these days, but I was glad to see they had them. This burger was simply topped with bacon, american cheese, lettuce and tomato. There was definitely a small mmm when I bit into it and I was certainly satisfied. The meat was well seasoned, and all in all I really couldn’t fault it. It would certainly be in my top 5 burgers in Seoul.

As well as the the beef burgers here were a handful of chicken burgers on the menu too, so we ordered the Mexican Chicken Burger (12,800). To me this was really a stand out, the breading was insanely crispy, and the chicken inside  was tender and juicy. Good hamburgers are ten a penny now but its rare to find a chicken burger as good as this. There were a handful of variations of it, I’d love to try the coleslaw version next time.

Being a large group we also decided to indulge in a portion of the Chili cheese fries (12,000). I’m always of the opinion that if you are going to have fries you might as well eat them slathered in chili and cheese. These ones had lots of fresh chilies strewn throughout making them a touch on he hot side for my milky taste buds. But there was plenty of chili though, making them nice and wet. On the cheese front however it was more of a cheese sauce than actual cheese

Lastly we tried the Original Chicken and Rice (7,800). I think it is really well documented on this blog how much I love chicken and rice, so when I saw this on the menu I had to see how it compared. Different from Jil Hal Bros, or Halal Guys, but in the same ball park. For this one the chicken is deep fried chunks of butter milk fried chicken, which was really nice. The rice is Korean style, coloured yellow, which I could live with, topped with spicy sauce and white sauce. It was not a bad representation and if I lived in that neighbourhood I’d be happy enough with it being the only version available locally.

Overall I was very impressed, and if you live nearby it is a must try,k and if you don’t it is still worth the trip over there if you a burger fanatic. Gony’s has a motto printed all over the place “life is too short to eat shitty things,” and I have to say that I concur.

Gony’s is located at 108 Wangsimni-ro, Seongsu 1(il)-ga 2(i)-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul.  To get there take a train to Ttukseom Station (line 2) and come out of exit 7. Take the right that is just by the exit and walk straight, then take the next right. Gony’s is just at the end of this street on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 070-4127-0423 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.

RMonster Del Mare

Last week a very charming young man invited to me out to one of his good friend’s restaurants. I don’t usually make a habit of going on dates with men who aren’t my boyfriend, but the cupboards were pretty bare that week and a girl’s gotta eat. When he told me the theme of the restaurant I was a bit skeptical but after looking at the menu online, I thought the place had promise, so agreed to give it a go. From the outside the place really doesn’t look like much, but once you go inside it is very charming. The entry wall is stuffed with lobster paraphernalia, a la American vintage style seaside town that you went to on your summer vacations. While inside is a mix of wood and brick, making it modern and chic at the same time.

Since we were guests of the proprietor all the food was chosen for us, but we did get to choose our own wine. Being the classy group that we are, we of course selected the cheapest which turned out to be a very nice Chardonnay (25,000). This was actually a really drinkable white, and not being much of a wine drinker I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. It was so nice in fact we ended up drinking two bottles.  The bottles on the rest of the menu are mostly around the 35,000 mark so the chardonnay really was quite a bargain.

After we had settled in with a glass of vino our first dish turned up, which was the Truffle mac & Cheese (7,000). Not only did this look amazing it tasted good too, lots of creamy cheese sauce and oodles of melted cheese on top. It was a little light on the truffle oil for me, but overall it had a nice flavour. It was especially good towards the end when we threw in some of the lobster meat with it, a winning combination if ever there was one.

Not long after we had dug into the mac and cheese, an enormous wooden platter filled with lobsters turned up. I kinda couldn’t believe this was all for us, it was pretty magical. The Cheese Stuffed Whole Lobster (78,000), is a speciality of the restaurants. At first I was a little uncertain at first, I mean cheese and lobster, but why the hell not? I have never had melted cheese on my lobster before but I certainly wasn’t opposed to it. I found that the tail meat was a bit on the tough side but the claws were glorious, the slightly salty meat was moist, tender, and melted in the mouth. The lobsters came served with a good spicy mayo aioli thing, and a very dubious looking cabbage topped with mayo and corn, which we pretty much ignored.

By the time the lobster was eaten you’d have thought we would be done but out comes a sizzling pan of Meat (38,000). Ours was a double potion so you usually get two lamb chops, one steak and two sausages. The stand out to me was the homemade sausage, man were these good, slightly spicy, full of flavour, if they sold these deli style I would buy them in a heartbeat. The lamb chops were delicious, though overcooked for my taste, as was the steak, it’s good meat so if you like it more on the rare side then be sure to let them know when ordering. Again the sauces on the side were a nice selection, a BBQ type gravy, mint jelly and mustard. Again this was a lot of food for the price and I can’t imagine anyone being unhappy, we were all stuffed by the time the meat was finished.

Overall I didn’t have the best expectations going in and so I was pleased to have them exceeded. The food was tasty and filling and considering the kind of ingredients I think very fairly priced. I’d certainly go back again. They are launching a new menu this week, which includes all the dishes we tried. So if you are looking for something a little bit different or are in the mood for a cheese stuffed lobster then head on down to Itaewon.

RMonster Del Mare is located at 127-6 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul . To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (line 6) and come out of exit 3. walk straight, you will see R Monster Del Mar just ahead of you after the police station on the second floor. For more information you can call them on 010-2758-1558 or check out their facebook page. They are open everyday from 11:30am – 2am.