Jung Shik Dang. Their new restaurant is over by Shindang near Samwon Garden. You can find directions to their location on their website. I went to this restaurant with Chef Nick Flynn from the Intercontinental and my friend Terry. Good company and very...creative cuisine. This is my third visit to Jungsikdang and I have to say that I am a bit worried about the franchise.
The food is beautiful. The setting is stylish and beautiful and the staff and service is top notch. Oh, they have a great wine list as well. In the past, I have criticized the service at this restaurant. Now they have really taken this to another level. The service and atmosphere is actually worthy of a Michelin Star.
The food is, well...did I use the word creative already?
Let me explain. When Jungsikdang first opened they had a variation of their current signature menu with the foie gras pate with pistachio shaving, pork jowl with yuzu, kimchi consomme, etc. The "first" signature menu was great, but then they followed it up with their "nuevo menu" and then opened up two restaurants.
I feel that Jungsikdang is rushing ahead (they have opened up a bar, a fine dining restaurant and plans to open a new restaurant in New York City) with only a few fully complete menus; I worry for their success.
I found his "nuevo" menu to be a mixmash of too many influences- the chef is like a kid that learns a new technique and gets fascinated with it- he doesn't "own" the skill yet. I wish he would sit down and hone his techniques like a fine artisan or athlete and become a master of his craft before jumping to a new project.
The food, for me, had a hint of saccharine, sweetness that dulled the flavors. I was looking for a stand out dish, but I couldn't really find it here. I ordered the "Nuevo Dinner Tasting Menu (120,000 won + tax). The only dishes that I really thought were surefire successes were the Milano Seafood Jjim and the Tomato Sujebi. The Milano Seafood Jjim looks like the Kracken- brilliant shocks of green stood out among the white fleshed fish. The taste reminded me of Holden's dream in the book Catcher in the Rye: I was in a green field of rye that overlooked a cliff.
The Tomato Sujebi were a chewier, Korean version of bowtie noodles with tomato sauce. I liked it.
So...is Jungsikdang worth it? Of course it is. I mean I wouldn't eat their everyday, but if you have a business dinner meeting in the afternoon, the 60,000 lunch tasting menu is perfect for entertaining guests. Even the dinner at 100,000 and 120,000 per person is an excellent bargain. (When I say bargain, I mean you get 10 course meals with coffee, after dinner treats- all inclusive.) The food is fun; it's creative; it's beautiful; it's tasty; it's just not quite ready for NYC prime time.
Jung Shik Dang
567-28 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu Seoul, Korea
02-517 4654 (English Spoken)