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Korean Eats, Southeastern Seoul

Revisited: Jungsikdang

Last week I was fortunate to visit Jungsikdang with some guests. With all the press that this restaurant is getting in the states, I was interested to see if the quality of his flagship restaurant had suffered or not.

I have a long history with this restaurant and I have been to it numerous times in the past few years since it opened. I have introduced this restaurant and to journalists and I have written numerous articles on the establishment. I have been critical at times for I thought and still think that the chef should have worked harder to hone his craft in Seoul before making the leap to NYC.

I made reservations a few days in advance and they were quickly and easily made. When I arrived, the hosts happily greeted us. I have to admit that service has greatly improved from the beginning. I would say that the level of service is one of the tops in the country.

The atmosphere is quaint and at noon on a Wednesday it is surprisingly lively. In the private room there is a baby shower and around our table fashionable girls are chatting about new styles and guys they think are hot.

I ordered an array of different dishes off the lunch menu, (a 6 course luck came to 40 to 60,000 won a person).

The first course was an amuse bouche course that had a delightful tofu flan, a lobster chip and aioli, and a refeshing grape and cucumber salad.

Next was the salad course. I had a fresh salad that had a umami-rich Kim dressing and my guests had a tomato-foam salad. My quarter of iceberg lettuce was crisp and topped with various veggies, bacon, and seaweed dressing. It was a good palate cleanser and the idea to use dried seaweed as a dressing was an inspired idea.

Course 3 was the starch course- which is against Korean standards (rice is always the next to last course in Korea). I had a poppy barley rice with crisp anchovies and 3 spheres of pickled turnip.

My guests had a spicy noodle dish and another had crisp pork belly over rice. I have to say that my dish was the best because of the mix of flavor and texture.

The main course came next. I had snapper with crisp scales on top and a spicy oil soup. There was also a salmon and sous vide beef dish. The star was the samgyetang (chicken and ginseng) dish that had a tube of ginseng, pinenuts and much more over a disk of sous vide chicken sitting in broth. The execution and the taste of this dish was outstanding.

The dessert came next and I had the raspberry dessert which was rich and tart. I remember tasting the Makgeolli dessert and this was not so good. It tasted too heavily of alcohol and the texture of rice cake was a bit too spongy to be palatable.

Overall, besides the Makgeolli dessert, Jungsikdang was a wonderful experience and my guests loved it. They told me that they would bring their guests there.

I also found it refreshing and a meal that I relish.

I also am willing to accept that maybe Mr. Jungsik Yim is ready for the world stage.

Go get him tiger.

Dan

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Non-Korean Eats, Southeastern Seoul

Pictures of Dinner of Night’s Past Poong Worl

Last night I was out with my foodie friends in Garusugil. We went to our Charlie Cha Cha Cha’s place: Poong Worl. The food is good there and so is the atmosphere.

First,we had a very fresh shellfish sashimi salad. Giant scallop, oyster and more were precisely cut and put in a chilled, refreshing, vinegary seafood broth. The oysters were outstanding and so were the jellyfish noodles in the broth.

We then had a natto omelet. Also good, but the natto is a little slimey but I love so it is good for me. I really recommend their mentako omelet. It has fish eggs in side.

It is located on the left side of Garusugil (towards Sinsa station). It is near Papergarden, next to the 7-11.

Poong Worl
02-547-9923 call if you get lost.

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Cafes/Bars, Southeastern Seoul

Gangnam Review: Helen’s Kitchen : Rice Wine Bar

Helen’s Kitchen

Helen’s Kitchen : Korean Cloudy Rice Wine Bar

Makgeolli is called farmer’s alcohol because it is a simple alcohol made from ground rice, water and yeast (nuruk). Served chilled, this drink has a crisp taste and it is slightly carbonated so it goes well with greasy dishes such as onion or potato pancake or spicy dishes as sauteed pork in chili paste or kimchi and tofu. Makgeolli can differ from city to city and the taste can be altered by the use of different rice or by adding bean, corn, herbs, and even fruit like raspberry.

Helen’s Kitchen offers a wide range of artisan makgeollis served with traditional dishes such as savory seafood and onion pancakes, tofu with kimchi, acorn jelly with chive salad, and grilled garlic octopus that are a fine match with the drink. They have seasonal makgeolli’s and specials on most nights. At Helen’s Kitchen you can taste a wide range of different makgeolli’s. They have makgeolli’s at different price points as well. You can try the very common Seoul makgeolli (4,000 won) to some that might cost 20,000 won a bottle. At this pub, they have over 25 different types of rice wine drinks.

I can’t say it is my favorite Makgeolli bar, but it is great for Gangnam. They really try their best to show the wide range of rice wines and the food is cooked right. Now, I didn’t see a Helen in the Kitchen (I think there was a Mr. Kim), so I don’t know what the meaning of the name means. I should have asked the owner, but I think it was the 3rd stop and at that point my conversation skills were limited to talking about…forgettable stuff. The kitchen is not the main draw for this place- it’s the wide variety of rice wines. Sure, it is much more expensive than other places but everything in Gangnam is 20 to 30% higher. But in comparison to other places in the area, Helen’s kitchen isn’t too bad. You can get out of there nicely drunk and full for about 15,000 won a person.

The atmosphere is comfortable and the staff are very friendly.

Recommended makgeollis are: Takbaeggi, Saeng Doksan, Sobaeksan Dong-dong ju, and ask the bartender what the rice wines of the day are.

Name: Helen’s Kitchen
Address: 149-31 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Phone Number:  02-539-6067
Hours: 4pm-2am
Category: Bar: Korean Rice Wine
Price: 10,000-20,000 won
English Menu: No
Spoken English:Yes
Vegetarian Options:Yes
Directions: Directions: Go down the road across from Seven Luck (Samseong-ro 104 gil) and walk 2 blocks

Busan Makgeolli
Buchujeon
Makgeolli Bottles

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Cafes/Bars, Southeastern Seoul

CT Bakery across from COEX: Cafe, Design, Bar, Bakery

CT Bakery
Fresh Roasted Coffee
Big, I mean Big cookies

CT Bakery

This multi-function space does a little bit of everything. They daily roast their own coffee, they bake bread, they offer lunch, they have wine and beer, they cook some food, a reading room, and a gallery space full of designer furniture and antiques. It is a big place with multilevel. There is indoor and outdoor seating along with a terrace and a basement you can go to sit and relax. At CT Bakery, the coffee roasters are skilled in their craft so you can always get a good cup of coffee. They roast a variety of beans from Brazil, Ethiopia, Peru and other parts of the world. They offer hand-drip, espresso-style drinks, and even Dutch Coffee. The bakery churns out a variety of cakes and breads. They are most famous for their giant “Big Cookies” which is almost a meal by itself. This is also one of the only places outside of the hotels that you can get a brunch on Saturday or Sunday. You can also get sandwiches on fresh baked Foccacia or ciabatta bread. In the evening, CT Bakery becomes a hip place to have a selection of red, white, or sparkling wine with cheese or other snacks. They also have bottled and draft beer as well. Whatever you are in the mood for, CT Bakery can accommodate.

Name: CT Bakery
Address: Gangnam-gu, Samseong-dong 135-090
Phone Number: 02-563-9966
Hours: 7:30am-11pm Everyday
Category: Cafe/bakery/bistro/wine/beer
Price: 6,000-12,000
English Menu: Yes
Spoken English: Some
Vegetarian Options: Yes
Directions: Across from Seven Luck Casino at COEX.

Interesting furniture and space
CT Bakery, Interior
Sandwiches on fresh baked bread
Coffee Mugs
Crunch Peanut Butter Toast…yum
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