Tag: Romantic

Jung Sik

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romantic Restaurants

Love is in the air, everywhere I look around. Actually cold is in the air and I’m freezing to death, but love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is on the way. And if you are in a relationship you are pretty much obligated to take your significant other out for a romantic dinner. I know some of you will be rolling your eyes so far back in your head that you’ll be needing medical assistance to get them back in front again but it’s not just V Day, this post applies for anytime you may want to have a nice night out with your someone special. the list is split into budgets so there should be something for everyone. The prices are a just a rough estimate and priced per couple not per person, based on a main course each and a shared starter and dessert. I haven’t included booze in the costings because booze is pricey here in Korea, and most of us are raging alcoholics which seriously inflates the price of dinner. So if you are on a budget I suggest you get wasted at home first, Personally I’m a big fan of Costco’s 8,000 sparking wine especially when served in a 3,000 won Daiso champagne glass. Who knew being so classy could cost so little? (more…)

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. (more…)

Omyrose at Seoul Dining

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCoy’s

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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.

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Boccalino

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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.

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Be My Valentine

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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…)