Dinner @ MUOKI 무오키 (Seoul, Korea)

September 25, 2022 in Korean by thywhaleliciousfay

Out of the many restaurants on Michelin Guide Korea, I shortlisted Muoki after seeing a friend share some pictures from his meal back in mid July ‘22. However I didn’t plan ahead enough for this, because Muoki was fully booked out for the date I wanted.

But bless my reservation fairy. A slot opened up just 3 days before. Someone must have cancelled. And reservation is relatively straight forward. It’s done via the reservation website Catch Table. After selecting one’s preferred date and time, a link will be sent to secure the reservation with one’s credit card details.

I arrived at the restaurant on a wet Monday evening. Took the lift up to Level 3 where Muoki was located on. The staff led me to my designated counter seat, and boy was the counter high. There’s a box for me to step, in order to get onto the high chair.

Prior to dinner, the restaurant got further clarity that my dietary restriction of no beef also meant no beef stock. Which meant between the pork and beef, I wasn’t able to choose the former for my main because beef stock was used. As such, they made some adjustments to my course menu. I was told fish was arranged for my main. And instead of having to choose 1 out of the 2 options under the ‘Chef’s Special’, I was given both. And (what I suspect) to maintain the number of courses, the beet dish was removed.

And with that, I commenced my dinner menu, ₩190,000 with:-

1) Welcome snacks (above) – Shrimp and cabbage pie tee, and fruit tart. The apple-pear-grape tart was a replacement for the beef tartare, and was pretty good.

2) Ocean (above) – Pickled fish, hanchi, anchovy. Staff shared this was plated as though one’s standing in front of the beach. Cute! Though I couldn’t help but notice the dressing. The dressing looked heavy for the sashimi at first sight, but was in fact refreshing and turned out really well. So much so I wished the portion was bigger. Hee.

3) Vichyssoise (above) – Leek, truffle, quail egg. Was surprised to know this was actually a cold dish of potato and leek soup. Served with potato chips, summer truffle (chose not to top up for winter truffle), quail egg, and crouton.

4) LobsterCurry, calamansi, sour cream, brioche. Was expecting a grilled-to-crisp bread, but it was soft instead. All good though. Staff shared I could tear the bread up and enjoy the dish like how I would enjoy Spanish tapas. I started by enjoying the bread on its own and was surprised to realise it was slightly sweet. But that was balanced well when enjoyed with the savoury lobster.

5) Bread (above) – Homemade bread, butter, salt.

6) Scallop [Chef’s Special] (above) – Kaviari caviar, celeriac, pancetta. Seated at the counter meant I had direct view of the open kitchen. And I noticed the staff spritzing liquid onto the plate before the shell was placed. Nice. The attention to details! Even if it’s just for presentation.

7) Muoki egg [Chef’s Special] (above) – Truffle, foie gras, chicken. Was caught by surprise when the staff mentioned chicken breast mousse. Say what! And inside the ball was foie gras, paired with truffle sauce and mushroom.

8) Cleanser (above) – Mini beer. Made with apple, ginger, rosemary, cinnamon and coconut water. And it was very sweet because the staff brought an empty jug just to geonbae (cheers) with me.

9) Fish (above) – A replacement for my main; I was unable to have the beef because of my dietary requirement, and was also unable to opt for the pork because beef broth was used (in the sauce). Was served European seas bass (branzino), leek and sauce made with saffron, mustard and sea mussels. And this was so good. Especially the sauce! If it makes any sense, the flavours were on the bold/bright side.

10) Sorbet (above) – Basil and lime.

11) Popcorn (above) – Caramel, vegan chocolate, corn. A very cute looking dessert. Especially that shade of yellow! Popcorn mousse with hazelnut within, popcorn ice cream on popcorn crumbs, and chocolate cake.


12) Coffee or tea (above) – Decided to go with tea, and I chose rose peach (bottom row).

13) Chocolate (above) – Passion fruit flavoured.

It was a very enjoyable meal. Food was great as expected of a Michelin-starred restaurant. But what left a (really) deep impression on me was the hospitable service. It was simply stellar!

My phone was on low power mode. The staff must have noticed the yellow bar when he took my order (for drinks) because he suddenly appeared with a portable battery charger. That totally caught me by surprise. And that simple act from a very observant staff impressed me much. I was in fact a little panicky (inside) because I wasn’t sure if my mobile could last the entire meal and till I reach back my accommodation. And for me, the phone is like so important when overseas since I rely heavily on Google map to find my way around.

During the course of my meal, I got to interact much with the staff. And it’s not just 1, but 3. Though I do have to say being a solo diner in this situation helped. When I first arrived at the restaurant, I noticed a miniature dog placed on the table with the cutlery. Halfway through my meal, the staff brought out a miniature boy to accompany the dog. Cute! And when I was onto my dessert, another staff brought out the entire collection of miniature dogs! Awww! I really appreciate the fun side of the staff. Shared so much laughter.

And the benefit of sitting at counter meant I was able to watch everything unfold in the kitchen too. I suspect head chef James Park Moo-hyun sometimes forgets there’s customer (aka me) at the counter when he gets very engrossed in his work. I witnessed him scolding at least 3 kitchen staff (all at different times). And that included him throwing away cooked/ready ingredients or him sending the sauces back to be cooked longer. But I honestly felt that just meant head chef James wants the best for his staff. I also observed he would find time (in between his dishes’ plating) to talk to his sous chefs individually. That included guiding and showing how the vegetables should be properly better grilled at the stove. Nice! In fact, if one goes into head chef James’ Instagram account, one could see he values team bonding a lot. There are pictures of excursions, etc.

Will I recommend Muoki? Yes!

12-12 Hakdong-ro 55-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
+82 010 2948 4171, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 10
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Eatanic Garden 이타닉 가든 (Seoul, Korea)

September 14, 2022 in Korea, Korean by thywhaleliciousfay

My (fine dine) meals for my September ‘22 Korea trip were booked with much referencing to Michelin Guide Korea. With the exceptions of 2; Eatanic Garden and The Green Table. I got to learn about Eatanic Garden when chef-owner of Le Du (Bangkok, Thailand) posted his meal on Instagram just a few weeks before my trip.

That naturally piqued my interest. But I’ll be honest… I dragged my feet in making the reservation because the restaurant name (ie, Eatanic Garden) made me imagine the meal will be vegetables-heavy. And I really ain’t a vegetable person.

So I count myself very lucky that Eatanic Garden was able to accept my reservation just 2 days before. I strongly do not recommend anyone to follow my poor example. Purely because this place is still under (international) radar. It will be a challenge securing a reservation in future because I honestly foresee they’ll be getting their Michelin stars with the next Michelin Guide Korea announcement.

Eatanic Garden’s website indicated reservation has to be made by phone. However my Korean SIM card did not allow outgoing calls. So I sent them a message on Instagram. They responded promptly and requested for my details (name and email address). Do note because of the very short notice, they accepted my reservation with the trust / good faith that I will not pull a fast one. Most (if not all) fine dine restaurants will require one to secure the booking with a (credit card) deposit.

Do dress appropriately because as the hotel name sounds (Eatanic Garden being located on level 36 of Josun Palace), the venue is very grand.

There are a few seating areas in Eatanic Garden; Dining hall of table seats, private rooms, balcony with couple sofa, and counter seats. I was glad to be given a seat at the counter. And may I add, the best seat too with straight view of the ‘stage’ where head chef Son Jongwon and his team do the plating.

Upon seated, the staff took my order for drinks (I went with just still water). And with that, I commenced my Autumn tasting dinner menu, ₩320,000 with:-

1) Welcome drink, Complimentary (above) – Sap water collected from birch trees. Wow.

2) Gamhong 감홍 (above) – Served in an apple-shaped hop (traditional Korean bowl), the texture of this apple dish was interesting. It’s like a cross between soup and oat porridge.

3) Alcoholic drink, Complimentary – Was given a cup to enjoy with the apple (gamhong) dish.


4) Plum blossom 오얏꽃 (above) – Staff shared that back in the Joseon dynasty, plum tree blossom (oyat flower) was used to represent the imperial family of the Korean empire. So it’s as though head chef Jongwon was expressing royalty through this really intricate ‘glass chip’. And to be honest, I was blown away by its level of intricacy. I can’t imagine the amount of preparation works that went into it. And beneath the gorgeous glass chip was roasted chestnut, chestnut purée, fermented plum and salmon roe.

5) Jujeonburi 주전부리 (above) – Trio of small snacks; Chewy and sticky donut made with sweet rice and topped with pine mushroom, tart made with tofu and filled with potato egg salad and confit dried anchovies, and folded seaweed on parae seaweed (파래) paste. These were so good! I like that donut was fried such that it had a thicker crust, and I personally thought the tart was cleverly playful with different ‘crunch’ from the fried anchovy and thinly chopped vegetables. And again, I was blown away by the folded humming bird. I mean, origami with paper is hard enough. Origami with seaweed? Wow wow. Apparently it’s made by drying and then frying, before it’s folded into the shape of a humming bird which symbolises ‘happiness’.

6) Hydroponic herbs 수경재배 허브 (above) – When the staff told me the skin was radish, my jaw literally dropped. For the colours to come through so vividly, the radish must be really thin yet big enough to be rolled up. Served in a tangerine vinaigrette, the roll also contained aged yellowtail (sashimi) and Korean pine nuts within. A very refreshing and light-on-the-palette dish.

7) Soy bean 콩 (above) – By now, the staff noticed I take pictures of my food. And that I hadn’t been very fast at it. Haha. So for this particular dish, the staff stressed the dish is very time sensitive because she really wanted me to enjoy it as per chef’s intent. Smoked soybean curd beneath the egg veil and fermented shiitake mushroom glaze, and topped with Korean caviar. I listened well and tucked in after just 3 snaps. But what happened next was a total surprise and touched impressed me. Staff came out with a tin of the Korean caviar, showing it’s specially curated for Eatanic Garden, and gave me a big scoop. She shared it’s because she really wanted me to enjoy the soy bean dish with caviar of the right temperature. And indeed, the caviar that came served in the dish had turned warm and its taste was muted, whereas the freshly placed cold caviar was more salty. The cold caviar’s sharper/more intense flavour was a great contrast to the soy bean which is usually bland on its own. Am grateful to have tasted the contrast of warm and cold caviars with the soy bean pudding. And it’s learned from their menu card that this dish is an homage to freshly made ‘dabu’ (traditionally a dish made in front of diners at temple restaurant).

8) Cabbage heart 알배추 (above) – Heart of the Baechu cabbage done in 2 ways (pan-fried and chopped white kimchi), and served with charcoal-grilled sea perch. The fish was executed very beautifully, and the deceivingly plain-looking gochujang sauce was full of umami! “Secret”, the staff said with a wide smile when I asked out of plain curiosity if fish broth was added into the sauce.

9) Burdock 우엉 (above) – And with every course, the staff would place a menu card informing us of the upcoming dish’s main theme/ingredient. Was surprised when the card showed burdock but a crab was placed in front of me. Not that I am complaining. Hee. And mixed with the blue crab flesh was japchae (stir-fried sweet potato starch noodles). I thought it’s interesting that the japchae was intentionally grilled to have some burnt crust (similar to scorched rice). And the vegetables (burdock included) in the japchae helped to cut through the heaviness of the creamy sauce, though maybe they could have gone a little easier on the sauce quantity.

10) Pine needles 솔잎 (above) – Minced duck balls grilled over charcoal and smoked with pine needles. Served alongside a flavourful duck bone broth infused with pine needle oil.


11) Autumn mushrooms 가을 버섯 (above) – Seven types of Korean autumn mushrooms prepared in various ways, served with abalone that was steamed before charcoal-grilled. Head chef Jongwon came out to personally introduce the dish, and I think he mentioned starch water was also used for the glutinous rice wrapped in chard leaf. And what a surprise when I chewed into it to realise the bottom of the rice was grilled to obtain the same crunch as scorched rice. Nice!

12) Cosmos 코스모스 (above) – Love the subtle effect of the pomegranate sorbet (hidden out of sight beneath the sugar flower) fizzing when the staff poured the juice into the cup.

13) Sweet pumpkin 단호박 (above) – Sweet pumpkin and green tea cakes. The former was airy while the latter had a cheesecake texture. And on the plate was butter squash and pumpkin purées. I genuinely thought it was just a colourful plate! Was also told this plating was inspired by a famous Korean artist (Yoo Youngkuk)’s painting.


14) Mother of pearl box 자개함 (above) – And inside the drawers of the mother-of-pearl lacquer box were berry drink, rhubarb jerky, white chocolate bon bon with makgeolli filling, stuffed date and Korean melon.

15) Tea/coffee (above) – I chose to go with tea.

Words alone can’t express how much I enjoyed my meal at Eatanic Garden. Everything was just perfect!!! Ambience was needless to say grand and posh. Food was exceptional. Not just the taste, but the plating too. And when I say plating, I am also referring to the crazy amount of preparation works the team had to put in! That ‘plum blossom glass chip’ and ‘folded seaweed humming bird’.

And instead of the usual menu, Eatanic Garden used menu card. The staff would place the pictorial menu card showing the key ingredient of the next upcoming course. And at the end of the meal, the cards would be placed into an envelope for diners to take home. It’s only after I reached home that I realised there’s commentary at the back of each menu card. And I enjoy such stuff. The commentary allowed me to further appreciate the meal with the newly gained insight of chef’s thought process when he put together/planned the menu.

I also did some stalking surfing on Instagram and the female staff who attended mostly to me was Winter Woo! She is such a dear. She certainly elevated my dining experience with her bright smile and sincere heart. :) And thank you head chef Jongwon for the private tour of the kitchen! I was dining solo, but never did I once feel alone.

Eatanic Garden debuted with the opening of Josun Palace in May 2021, but it’s interesting the staff said 14 February 2022 when I asked how long they have been in operation. Apparently head chef Jongwon became part of Eatanic Garden team only later (which meant he now oversees Eatanic Garden and L’Amant Secret), and 14 February was their renewal opening date.

Will I recommend Eatanic Garden? Yes! YES! One may find their dinner menu slightly pricey at ₩320,000, but I say it’s totally worth it. If not one could also check them out for lunch.

Now… Michelin Guide Korea announces the winners every November, and I am definitely rooting for Eatanic Garden to be awarded at least 2 Michelin stars in the upcoming Michelin Guide Korea 2023.

Level 36, Josun Palace, 231 Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
+82 2 517 4654, Website, Instagram
Overall: 9.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 10
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 21:00
Ambience: 9
Value: 8
Service: 10

Dinner @ ANJU | Contemporary Korean in Tanjong Pagar

March 19, 2022 in Korean by thywhaleliciousfay

I didn’t think I would get down to sharing my dining experience at Anju because there’s a lot of reviews of Anju on the internet. But the thing is my friend and I truly enjoyed ourselves. And it’s always experiences at the 2 extreme ends of the spectrum that make me want to write. So yes, here I am… Penning my thoughts of my meal at Anju. Since I also noticed a good handful of the online reviews are from media tasting that Anju hosted. I usually read reviews from media tastings with a pinch of salt. But hey, that’s me. =)

My girlfriend was visiting from Australia in January 2022, and suggested Anju because she saw photographs of their food on her Instagram feed. Power of social media, eh. And surprisingly, I didn’t hear of Anju prior. Shocker, I know. But I am always up for Korean cuisine!

Anju accepts reservation exactly 1 month in advance. So for our mid January dinner, reservation was made in mid December. And we chose to dine during the first seating.

Interior (Picture Credit: Link)

We were assigned to a table right under the skylight, which was lovely! Since we reached at 6.30pm, we got a good amount of natural light before the sun eventually set at 7pm. And from the food menu, my girlfriend and I ordered:-

1) Gyuja salad, $24 (above) – Prawns, squid, kimchi, red dates, mustard dressing. Would definitely recommend ordering this. The tangy sauce cut through the greasiness of the other dishes, which allowed my girlfriend and I to eat more. Keke.

2) Domi carpaccio, $26 (above) – Red snapper, seaweed, chilli, miso, chive oil, yuja. Don’t be fooled by my photographs. The portion is on the smaller side, and is good for just 2 people.

3) Hogam jeon, $26 (above) – Potato, zucchini, prawn, onion pickle. There’s an option to add mozzarella cheese for $3 but we decided not to. And this unfortunately tasted just like any seafood fritters. Barely saved by the dipping sauce. I guess this didn’t live up to expectation because I was expecting some dough since ‘jeon’ is after all a pancake dish. I say give this a miss.

4) Oyster, $28 (above) – Squid ink battered oyster, pickled fennel, flying fish roe. This was so good. Definitely recommend ordering this.

5) Abalone gim pasta, $34 (above) – Fresh abalone, seaweed, pickled shallots, perilla.

6) Bossam, $50 (above) – Pork belly, pickled mushroom, dried squid, dried radish, pickled garlic, baby romaine lettuce. Since bossam is a Korean boiled pork dish, I was surprised to see the pork belly black instead of white. And going by my standard, this would be a fail because I am a traditionalist. I want my white beautifully boiled pork, and paired with well-seasoned crunchy kimchi. Bonus if oyster is included in the kimchi just as how bossam was served when I had it in Korea. But I digress… Nonetheless, the pork belly at Anju was still enjoyable. There’s a good ratio of meat to fats, and was nicely charred.

7) Baek kimchi, $7 (above) – White kimchi, radish, red dates.

8) Sweet potato, $18 (above) – Salted caramel crème, sweet potato ice cream, brown butter crumble, charcoal curd foam, roasted sweet potato skin powder. This was lovely! Looked similar to a tiramisu, if I must say.

9) Black sesame bread, $16 (above) – Korean black sesame bread, black sesame cream, doenjang ice cream, yuzu meringue. Skip this.

So yes, my girlfriend and I had an absolute wonderful time at Anju. Though most of it was contributed by the wonderful service. When the staff came round at 7.30pm to take last orders, I panicked. We had consumed 3 of the 4 (savoury) dishes we ordered, but I was still very hungry. I liked that the staff entertained me and allowed me to go overboard with my orders. Haha. And it was an absolute bonus when the staff said we didn’t have to clear our table for second seating. I couldn’t imagine us wolfing down our additional 3 (savoury) dishes and 2 dishes within an hour.


My girlfriend and I also ordered some alcoholic beverages to go with our food. We had to order drinks, especially since it’s read from Anju website that head chef Kim Gi Deok created the food menu to be paired well with all of their drinks. And I would definitely recommend trying their range of makgeolli. We had White Lotus makgeolli (375ml, $30) (above, left) and Champagne makgeolli (940ml, $80) (above, right). Pity we weren’t able to try Ellyeob Pyunjoo makgeolli (750ml, $188). Might pop by just for it cause their alcohol (at least the makgeolli) is reasonably priced.

Would I recommend Anju? Yes.

62 Tras Street, Singapore
Website, 6612 1172
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30
Ambience: 8
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Sun