Dinner @ Jungsik 정식당 (Seoul, Korea)

October 28, 2020 in Korean

My trips to Korea were mainly visiting family-owned restaurants. I follow a few Korean food shows, and would hunt down the restaurants that appear on the shows. Uh huh, hunt. But when Michelin Guide Seoul was (first) launched in November 2016, it got me curious. It made me want to check out the fine dining scene in Korea. And I was lucky that one of my (ex-)crossfitters (from my Korea trip 2017) was keen too. And thus, we went to Jungsik and La Yeon.

Reservation at Jungsik was made through email with 1.5 months advanced notice. Dinner almost failed to materialise because Jungsik was closed for private event on our 2 preferred dates. But after adjusting our itinerary, we secured our reservation by returning a completed reservation form which included a credit card guarantee.

Jungsik was a short 5 minutes walk from Apgujeong Rodeo metro station. We were greeted by a receptionist who led us to our table at level 2. And with 2 options on the dinner menu, we each ordered the 5-courses, ₩120,000:-

1) Welcome drink, Complimentary (above) – With grapefruit jelly, the staff told us to drink it just like how we would down a shot. Keke.


2) Welcome dish, Complimentary (above) – Introduced as banchan (side dishes), we were told this was Jungsik’s style. And we were served scallop, truffle capellini, snapper with kimchi (to be eaten as a wrap), smoked salmon in a cone, rice ball with oyster, and fried burdock.

3) Appetiser with options of:


  

(A) Gujeolpan ver. 3 (for 2) (above) – Raw tuna. The ‘+2′ on the menu meant the dish was for 2. And so, my friend and I had to choose the same dish for our choice of appetiser. The staff explained gujeolpan meant ’9 types of food’, and the 9 on our dish being sour cream, sprouts, seaweed, yam, wasabi, kimchi, minced tomato, jelly and tuna. I wouldn’t recommend stacking a bit of everything onto the piece of crispy seaweed. I tried and ended up dirtying the floor when I tried putting my tall ensemble into my mouth. Sob.

(B) Octopus (+ ‎₩10,000 supplement) (above) – Gochujang aioli. So glad my friend was a glutton like me. We decided to order the octopus dish although we had exhausted our appetiser option with the Gujeolpan ver. 3 (item #3A). And as an add-on, this a-la carte order cost us ₩25,000.

4) Rice with options of:


(A) Sea urchin (+ ‎₩10,000 supplement) (above) – Fried millet. We were told to mix the black rice, fried millet, puffed rice and sea urchin together. I liked the crunchy bits within. Just like scorched rice if I ain’t wrong. So good.

(B) Grilled rice (above) – Barley, duck. I really enjoyed this dish. Could taste the strong smoky aroma.

5) Sea with options of:

(A) Ok dom (+ ‎₩10,000 supplement) (above) – Namul. And was told that the red snapper was Jungsik’s signature from Jeju island. Served with vegetables and rice cake.

(B) Black cod (+ ‎₩10,000 supplement) (above) – Classic, dried radish. Cooked by pouring hot water over slowly to keep it tender inside, and placed on a base of acorn jelly and assortment of vegetables which included cucumber and onion.

6) Land with options of:-

(A) Tenderloin (+ ‎₩20,000 supplement) (above) – Deodeok.

(B) Duck 2017 (above) – Aging, brocolini.

7) Pre-dessert (above) – Palate cleanser. Jungsik’s take on Korea’s cinnamon tea. With pear, ginger pudding and cinnamon juice.

8) Sweet with options of:-

(A) Dolhareubang (above) – Green tea mousse. Dolhareubang, the large rock statues symbolic to Jeju Island. Served alongside milk ice cream.

(B) Cheongdam pie (above) – Apple pie. With apricot jam and jasmine ice cream.

(C) Rose of versailles (above) – Blueberry cremeux. Again, another dessert which we ordered as an add-on for ‎₩20,000. Blueberry (used to make the rose), lychee ice cream, rose meringue cookie (as the crown), and blueberry cheese cake.



  

9) Tea/Coffee – And after our meal, we were given the option to go with tea (peppermint, chamomile, mugwort and buckwheat) or coffee. I usually would go with coffee, but decided to try the tea instead.

10) Petit fours – Black sesame biscuit, chocolate cube, and earl grey choux.

My friend and I enjoyed our dinner thoroughly. Got to thank the staff who was attending to our table. My friend and I were trying to take notes of the ingredients and made him repeat himself a few times. But he was so nice and patient. Thumbs up! Could definitely see why Jungsik was awarded 1 Michelin star. Food, tick. Service, tick. Ambience, tick. And as a bonus, my friend and I even got to see a Korean actor!

I definitely recommend Jungsik for upscaled Korean cuisine.

JUNGSIK 정식당
서울 강남구 선릉로158길 11
+82 2 517 4654, Website, Naver
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sun : 17:30 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8

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 02 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. I was keen to have a sushi meal in Korea because I was craving for sushi since I didn’t had any in the recent weeks prior to my trip. But also because I was curious to know the difference between having sushi in Korea and Japan. 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