Tag: review

C27

I’m not sure if you will believe this, but this year I didn’t have a birthday cake. A tragic tale I know, but it ends very well because my very wonderful friend Lizzy offered to cheer me up and take me the land of cake, a magical place in Sinsa that offers 27 different kinds of cheesecake! There is nothing like a dazzling array of wondrous desserts to put a smile upon your face, and forget your troubles.

The dessert cafe is set over four floors, a true tower of cake filled goodness. The main cafe is on the first, making it easy for you to order your drinks and desserts, then you go and find yourself a seat and wait for your order. While every floor of the cafe is different, being two rather lazy ladies, we settled for the ultra comfy sofa nook in the back of the first floor. However there are dozens of cute selfie spaces  strewn throughout, just check out this mannequin and beauty mirror combo, obligatory selfie taking girls included.

Life is full of hard decisions, and none so hard as choosing which of the 27 different cheesecake we were to try. Since my companion was the president of the cake club and much more experienced than I when it comes to desserts, I left the decision up to her. It was for the best as I was getting carried away, if I had had my way i would have tried them all. A dream that one day I hope to fulfil. On the drinks side they offer the usual assortment of coffees and a teas, plus a couple of yogurty type smoothie things and wine. Nothing that overshadows the cakes though.

In the end we narrowed it down to three. The Earl Grey, the Dutch Apple and the Chocolate Cherry Cheese all 8,800 per slice. All the cheesecakes are the same price which I think is a nice touch, and allows you to make a choice based on flavour rather than price. While all the cheesecakes were orgasmicly good, I’d have to give the Earl Grey my star prize. I never would have chosen this one but it was rather magical. The cheesecake itself was sweet and creamy and incredibly delicious. It was topped with a very light fluffy creamy topping, and had a tea flavoured sponge at the bottom. The Earl Grey flavour wasn’t particularly strong, but there was enough to give you a hint of flavour as the cheesecake melted in the mouth. Each of the plates comes decorated with a trio of grated cheeses, not sure if it really works but it is a playful idea, and I’m always willing to eat a bit of cheese.

Our second choice was the Dutch Apple (8,800). This one was topped with a very crunchy and sweet and crumbly biscuit topping, this made for a nice contrast of textures against the silkiness of the cheesecake itself. We also loved the chunks of fruit strewn throughout giving a fruity pop now and then. This one didn’t have a sponge bottom like the others, it had more of a pastry bottom instead of the sponge, which made it a little more like an apple pie.

Lastly we ordered The Chocolate Cherry Cheese (8,800), which was probably the most decadent of the three we tried. This one had a chocolate sponge bottom, and was topped with a chocolate cheesecake which was studded with little bits of cherry, then a layer of fresh cream, and finished with a thick layer of chocolate ganache.  This one was he sweetest of the bunch and very chocolatey, the chunks of cherry were nice when we found them but I would have liked a lot more. If you are a chocolate lover then this one is likely to be a winner, though there were at least half a dozen other chocolate versions too.

Overall you couldn’t find a better place for cheesecake. The array of flavours was incredible and the cheesecake was excellent.  The cheesecakes are baked but have a similar silkier smoothness to the non baked ones that are more popular in the UK, so I especially enjoyed them. The cafe itself is quite stylish and has plenty of room and is a nice place to while away an afternoon while enjoying some good desserts.This is the main branch of  C27 but there are several other locations, including a new one opening soon in Hongdae.

C27 is located at 545-12 Sinsa-Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sinsa station (line 3) and come out exit 8. Walk straight and take the fourth left (the one after Garosugil). Walk straight down this road, you will see C27 about four blocks down on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-544-9901 or check out their website.

The Beastro Brunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Casa – All you can eat Pizza Aperitivo

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Left Coast Burgers

Left Coast Burgers needs no introduction, I mean you are probably asking why why the hell I am writing about it. However they recently moved to a new location, and as I like to keep you all abreast of all burger related information in Itaewon, I grabbed all of my favourite gal pals and headed off to give it a try. The new location up behind the Hamilton is a wee bit  smaller than the last one. In fact the location is not the only thing that has shrank in size, the new burgers look like they have been on a diet too. Thankfully this change is reflected in the new prices which are much lower than they used to be. They now offer most of the burgers in singles or doubles, the adorable owner Angela informed me the old size are more like the new double burgers, so you will definitely want to double up if you have an appetite as large as mine.

After perusing the new simpler menu I decided to go for the double Cheeseburger (7,900), and because I am greedy I got the Fried Chicken Burger (6,900) too. The Double Cheeseburger came  with 2 beef burgers topped with cheese and roasted garlic mayo. If I’m being honest this one was too simple for me, as much as I was living for the garlic mayo, I wish i had gone for the LCB instead which came with grilled onions, tomato and special sauce. I had a bite of my friends and it was delicious, if you like a simple burger though I’m sure you will be pleased with the cheeseburger, especially at its new budget friendly price. The chicken burger left me wanting more too, when I read that it was topped with swiss, bacon, and ranch sauce I was practically salivating, but in reality it just didn’t quite live up to my expectations, for want of a better word it just seemed a little sad in terms of flavour and texture, hopefully this will be worked on as I adore a good chicken burger and good one is hard to find in Itaewon.

The best burger of the day was definitely the double John Wayne (10,900) which was ordered by my beloved TFB and comes topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, onion rings, and BBQ sauce. I’m a sucker for any burger that is topped with bacon and BBQ sauce, especially when you add onion rings into the mix too. Left Coast was always famous for their epic and imaginative burgers so hopefully more of these will make their way back on to the menu. TFB actually got this bad boy to go, probably because he knew I would end up eating it if he didn’t make a fast getaway. We got a side of fries and it came in this super cute takeout box.

Overall its good to see that Left Coast is back in business after a brief hiatus. The menu has a few new items including salads and soft serve ice cream, and has put on their delicious breakfast burrito full time. While I’m still hoping some of the old burgers like the Juicy Lucy will make a comeback, the new prices are really great and I’m sure will make a lot of people happy in these economically depressing times. I am also thrilled that they have made a big effort to make their takeout customers a little happier by providing adorable take out boxes via Shuttle. If you are as lazy as I am, you can order without leaving your bed by clicking here.

Left Coast is located at 23 Itaewon-ro, 19gil Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (line 6) and come out of exit 1. Walk straight and take the fourth alleyway on the right (its the last one) walk straight up that road past Shenanigan’s, and Brick Yard etc. You should see Left Coast just up ahead on the left hand side opposite the carpark. For more information you can call them on 02-790-3459 or check out their facebook page. Left Coast is open Tuesday – Sunday for lunch & dinner.

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.