Dinner @ Jinmi Sikdang 진미식당 (Seoul, Korea)

February 11, 2019 in Korean

The one dish one must have in Korea (in my opinion) is definitely raw crab marinated in soy sauce. You see, I tried the dish in Singapore but it was just bad; There was a strong fishy smell. And it was also from that bad experience that I realised the dish should be enjoyed at restaurants with high ingredient crab turnover to ensure its freshness. But having said that, not everyone may know how to appreciate the dish. So I was thankful when my (ex-)crossfitters were up for it.

Unlike the other restaurants which we went (during our trip) because of the Korean food show ‘Baek Jong Won’s Top 3 Chef King’, we went to Jinmi Sikdang because it came out top in my Google search. Keke. And I must say we were lucky to secure our reservation for 4 just 2 hours prior to our visit.

Featured on Michelin Guide Korea, blue swimmer crabs from Seosan area are prepared daily with the restaurant’s special soy sauce marinade recipe. And one shouldn’t drop by too late because they only prepare just enough crabs for daily consumption.

My (ex-)crossfitters and I had a day trip earlier in the day, so it was nice to have our local guide drop us off at the restaurant since we read it could be tricky to locate the restaurant. And for first-timers, the shop is identifiable with the words 真味. Short for 真味食堂.

Upon seated, we commenced our dinner with:-


  

1) Banchan, Complimentary (above) – Side dishes. I really liked how generous they were. Just when our side dishes were finishing, the staff would automatically come by and give us more. I couldn’t stop enjoying the 2 types of seaweed offered.


  

2) 간장게장, ‎‎₩38,000 per person (above) – Raw crab marinated in soy sauce (ganjang gaejang). Such a glorious sight! We were served 1 plump crab per person, and it was so good. From the smooth meat’s texture to how well the marinade brought out the crab’s sweetness. I enjoyed the dish in whatever ways I possibly could; Meat alone, meat with the various side dishes, and not forgetting… Rice mixed with crab roe and paired with seaweed. It’s indeed a ‘rice thief’ dish!

3) 누룽지탕, Complimentary (above) – Scorched rice soup (nurungji tang). As we neared the end of our dinner, the staff came up with a pot of scorched rice soup. And it’s interesting how the dish wrapped up our meal nicely. Its bland taste provided a nice contrast to the strong flavours from the crabs. And the soup warmed our stomach up, after finishing our cold dish of soy sauce marinated raw crab. This dish sent the message to our stomachs that it’s the end of our meal. Haha.

This would be my third time having raw crab marinated in soy sauce in Korea, and I have to say Jinmi Sikdang does it very well! I still think about it even though it has been 1.5 years since our meal. I strongly recommend Jinmi Sikdang.

JINMI SIKDANG 진미식당
186-6 Mapo-daero, Gongdeok-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울 마포구 마포대로 186-6)
+82 2 3211 4468, Website, Naver
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 14:30 (L.O.)
Ambience: 6
Mon – Sat : 17:00 – 20:00 (L.O.)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Lunch @ Sushi Kojima (Seoul, Korea)

February 3, 2019 in Japanese

During my Korea feasting trip with my (ex-)crossfitters in 2017, I got to excuse myself to check out Michelin-starred Sushi Kojima. And I chose to have lunch over dinner because of its price. Lunch was ₩150,000 (room) and ₩180,000 (counter) while dinner was ₩280,000 (counter) and ₩350,000 (counter). Reservation was required which thankfully our AirBNB host assisted me with.

To go up to level 6 where Sushi Kojima was located at, one had to take the correct lift. Unfortunately for me, I just couldn’t locate it. I was also slightly flustered because I was running late. It being my first time dining at sushi-ya in Korea, I wanted to be on time especially since I imagined they must be strict with punctuality. And with the departmental store staff’s assistance, I was directed to the correct lift lobby.

There’s no menu at Sushi Kojima. Once I settled down, I commenced my lunch omakase (₩180,000) with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Octopus and eel.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Sea bass.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

3) Dish #3 (above) – And for my nigiri sushi segment, I caught the name of all topping (neta) but one. Sad. Besides the unknown second piece, I had squid, abalone, red snapper, lean tuna (akami), striped jack (shima-aji), baby gizzard shad (shinko), scallop, jack mackerel (aji), medium fatty tuna (chutoro), sea urchin, sardine (iwashi), tiger prawn (kuruma-ebi), premium fatty tuna (otoro), gizzard shad (kohada) and sea eel (anago). And on top of the assorted nigiri sushi, I also had pickled gourd sushi roll and egg omelette (tamago).

4) Dish #4 – And just when I thought I had reached the end of my lunch, head chef Park Kyung-jae passed me a hand roll of minced tuna, diced pickled radish and chopped chive.

5) Dish #5 (above) – Miso soup.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Rock melon, peach and matcha.

What I didn’t know prior to my visit was that Sushi Kojima enforced a ‘no photograph’ rule. I was caught by surprise when head chef Park placed the second sushi in front of me and indicated ‘no photography’ by shaking his head and waving his hand when I was anticipating him to introduce the fish. And the thing was… When my first dish was served, I had checked with the waiting staff and was given the go-ahead as long as I took pictures of the food only.

But yes, I shamelessly continued to take pictures. I am sorry. The habit of ‘taking photographs of my food’ has ingrained so deeply that I can’t imagine not doing it. So I continued so, as discreetly as I could. Forgive me.

Compared to the other sushi I had, head chef Park’s leaned towards the smaller-sized. I might even more appropriately describe his sushi as uniquely longer and flatter. And he would also place the sushi directly onto the 500 year old hinoko counter.

And I honestly liked the restaurant’s set up. When the staff led me to the dining area, I was surprised at how big and spacious the room was. I liked that they did not try to clutter the room with many items; The counter seats occupied only one-third of the space. And beyond the full height window was a zen garden. Nice! And because head chef Park was a quiet man, he set the tone for all to keep the volume down when conversing. I got to enjoy some quiet time for myself while solo-dining at Sushi Kojima.

Would I recommend the only Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Seoul? I would. For lunch at least. But on a side note, I ain’t too sure if the experience was worth 2 Michelin stars. Hmm… And to know more about head chef Park and Sushi Kojima, one should read the article by Michelin Guide Korea. He also explained the reason behind his ‘no photography’ rule. Oops!

SUSHI KOJIMA 스시 코지마
Boontheshop Cheongdam A, 6F, 21 Apgujeong-ro 60-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울 강남구 압구정로60길 21. [지번] 청담동 89-17 분더샵(A)
+82 02 2056 1291, Naver
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 17:30 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Samsugi Ramyeon 삼숙이라면 (Seoul, Korea)

August 4, 2018 in Korean

One of my favourite Korean food has to be ramyeon. It’s like comfort food. I always crave for it even though I know I should cut down on my processed food. Haha. So when I was planning the food leg of my Korea trip (2017) with my crossfitters, I just had to slot in a ramyeon pit-stop. Keke.

And uh huh… No surprise that I got to know about 삼숙이라면 from episode 37 of Korean food show ‘Baek Jong Won’s Top 3 Chef King’. It’s also through the show that I understood why 삼숙이라면 was highly recommended; What set 삼숙이라면 apart from the other ramyeon restaurants was its broth, spring onion and cooking method.

Instead of the usual water, broth made with katsuobushi and dried shiitake was used for a smokey unique taste. And instead of chopping the spring onion, its shredded as long as noodles. After which, much care was put into the shredded spring onion where it’s washed and dried to prevent sticking (to one another) due to moisture.

As for cooking, the chef-owner would heat his special soya sauce in the nickel pot before bringing the seasoning, various ingredients, ramyeon and broth to a boil. Pulling the noodles up every now and then too as the exposure to air made the noodle chewier.


So it was with much anticipation that I arrived at 삼숙이라면 with my crossfitters. And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) 치즈라면, ₩5000 (above) – Ramyeon with cheese. When I was taking photograph of the restaurant’s interior, I took a glimpse of the kitchen and saw the chef using 2 types of cheese; Cheddar and mozzarella. It was a bit of the “oh” moment for me. And it’s also since then that I would use mozzarella whenever I made cheese ramyeon at home. Keke.


2) 해물짬뽕라면, ₩5000 (above) – Seafood ramyeon.

3) 라면 + 주먹밥 (Ramyeon + rice ball), ₩6000 comprised of:-



  

(A) 삼숙이라면 (above) – One could also order their set where it cost ₩500 cheaper to get the ramyeon and rice ball. And for the ramyeon flavour, we went with dumpling.

(B) 주먹밥 (above) – Rice ball. This cost ₩1500 if ordered as a-la carte.

Would I recommend 삼숙이라면? Certainly, unless one isn’t a fan of spring onion and bean sprout since the restaurant served a pile of those on the ramyeon. And if one has plans to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, one may consider putting 삼숙이라면 just before or after as it’s a 15 to 18 minutes walk from Gyeongbokgung Palace.

SAMSUGI RAMYEON 삼숙이라면
220-2 Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울 종로구 종로11길 30. [지번] 인사동 220-2
+82 02 720 9711, Naver
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 08:30 – 21:30
Ambience: 6
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun