Tag: Romantic

Jungsik Bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Normal by Ryunique

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Normal is located at 520-8, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sinsa Station (line 3) and come out of exit 8. Walk straight then take the second left, walk to the end then take the next left street which is diagonal and runs parallel to Garosugil. normal is about half way down just before the 4th left turn. For more information you can call them on 02-6405-9279 or check out their facebook page.

Omyrose at Seoul Dining

14976064_10154566441131142_1578047580_o

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

14958462_10154557192291142_1906395580_n

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

14962285_10154557192441142_2059691788_n

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

15033586_10154557192331142_452739581_n

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

15032357_10154557192391142_1291537669_n

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

15049817_10154566427706142_1665465389_n

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

14961342_10154557192401142_977283068_n

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

14970828_10154557192256142_737059003_o

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

McCoy’s

14375148_10154413470186142_1262708119_o

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

Social Table

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

IMG_2338 (more…)

Boccalino

13349084_10154117986961142_786267401_n

It’s not ever so often that I get to enjoy a sumptuous 5 star Italian meal here in Korea, but it is also not everyday that my parents come to visit me. For their last night I saved my trump card of a dinner at Boccalino to complete their stay. As soon as you walk into Boccalino you know you are somewhere special. Located on the second floor of the Four Seasons Hotel is the Italian eaterie that, much like the Italians themselves, just oozes style and class. (more…)

Kitchen Loading Urban Farmers

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

12714022_10153855658466142_1366845265_n (more…)

Be My Valentine

images

As I’m sure you are all aware, Valentine’s Day is once again rearing its ugly head this weekend. And the obligation to take your significant other out for dinner is thrust upon you. Now I’m not complaining about being taken out for dinner, no one loves being treated to a slap up dinner more than I, although I’d also be just as happy devouring a bucket of chicken and a large pizza in my pajamas at home, but enough about my low standards. When it comes to the day of love, Seoul has more than it’s fare share of upscale eateries and fine dining establishments for you to fritter away your hard earned cash on. However if you are looking for a good meal for two that costs around 100,000 or less, then you may wish to take a look at my list of the best options. And don’t worry it’s not too late to make reservations! (more…)

McCoy’s

A few days ago I got invited by a friend to come and try McCoy’s in Haebangchon. He had declared that it was an absolute gem of a place and a real find. I had heard a few mutterings on the grapevine about it, so my interest was certainly piqued but I honestly didn’t have my hopes that set that high. However since the dinner was on the house I figured it was worth a try. (more…)