Original: Seoul Eats/ Blogger Version

CLOSED Tutti Matti

This Restaurant has Closed

This was published in Eloquence magazine this month. Sadly, it is my last month writing for Eloquence, but hopefully I’ll be writing for another publication soon.


A Restaurant introduction by Daniel Gray with Chris Sanders, Penny Brook, and Carla Schmitz

The idea of a resto-lounge sounds avant-garde. Especially in a city known for apartments that may also serve as offices and cell phones that are multi function computers, calculators, dictionaries, and entertainment devices. Everything seems to be compressed in Seoul. And on top of that you have parts of the city that specialize in certain activities. You should go to Myeongdong to shop, Apgujeong to eat, and then Hongdae to dance. All of this probably prevents 50% of people from even going out.

So Tutti Matti decided to introduce a new concept to Karisukgil. They bought an entire building and designated each floor to a different activity. When you walk in you are welcomed into comfortable café where you can have a frothy cappuccino. Walk up one flight of stairs and trained wait staff will present you with a fine meal and a selection of wines. Go all the way to the basement and you’ll be given a martini whose liquid will dance to the beats of their house DJ. And, if you are privileged enough, you could go into the VIP room on the top floor.
Everything is in one place and the transition is as easy as climbing a flight of stairs.
Chris, Penny, Carla, and I were invited to come to Tutti Matti, which means, “Everybody is Crazy,” to dine by Lachlan Winner: owner of the bar. Lachlan is the perfect host. He is polite, warm, sophisticated and gregarious. He introduced us to his staff and his Italian Chef: Maximillian and the courses were on their way.

The first dish we had was the Vodka with Penne. The pasta was al dente (like it should be) with a complementing sauce that was creamy and flavorful with a cunning hint of vodka. There was only the sound of silverware and plates until Penny quipped, “See, no talking. That means that the food is good.” We all agreed with her.

The next dish that came was big pan seared scallops wrapped in bacon and served with a roasted pepper puree and sautéed spinach. This one I wasn’t such a fan of, because I thought it was too… familiar of a dish. On the other hand this was Carla’s favorite. She said, “I like to cut it in half so I can savor it.”

Lachlan then picked for us a 2005 Masi Campofiorin. This wine had hints of cherry, silk, and chocolate and paired well with the dishes. While we were enjoying the wine, my ears did perk up to the music. It was soothing song mixed with a modern techno track. It was a good match.
The next dish was the Branzino al Cartoccio Mediterraneo. Wrapped in parchment, it looked like a British Christmas cracker. The parchment was cut open by the chef and the air was filled with the wholesome smell of fresh basil and rosemary. The fish was cooked perfectly and it was topped with black olives and tomatoes. There was silence as everyone passively fought for forkfuls of the flakey fish.

The finish (well for dinner anyway) was a homemade Tiramisu. This was, hands down, the best tiramisu I’ve had in Korea. It was so authentic. The bitter chocolate powder was restrained by the creamy mascarpone cheese and the top layer of ladyfingers held a hint of espresso, while the lower layer had sopped up more of the robust cacao bean. The layers of flavors broke apart and then came back together in a swirl of flavors. We all gave high marks to the chef for this dish, but he said some guests didn’t feel the same way. We told him, that they had not experienced a real tiramisu.

As we were finishing up our wine, Chef Maximillian brought up one more dish. Maybe it was because our praise of his Tiramisu. It was his mushroom risotto. This dish was very rustic, nutty, and full of flavor. Penny said she really enjoyed the al dente bite and flavors in the dish.
After our meal, we had to go down to the basement to see what the bar was like. A French bartender served us Lychee cosmopolitans as trendy guests danced on the dance floor. For me, the lychee cosmopolitan turned into a dry martini, the martini became a single malt scotch and the scotch: absinthe. When I woke up the next morning, I couldn’t remember much about the bar, but I did know that I did have a good time and I believe the rest of my crew did as well.

Tutti Matti
Go out Sinsa Station exit 8 and walk 3 blocks. You’ll see a sign that points to Karisukgil. Tutti Matti is down the street across from “Free School.”

Entrees range from 17-45,000 won
Extensive Wine Menu available

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Original: Seoul Eats/ Blogger Version

CLOSED La Plancha Restaurant in Itaewon

Behind the Hamilton and tucked away to the right of Saint Ex is La Plancha. La Plancha is  high end Spanish steak restaurant that has been around for many years. I’ve heard about this place for ages yet I had not gone. Now, I don’t know why, but maybe it had to do with the fact that each time I have gone to a western style steak restaurant, I simply have not been satisfied. 

Over at Yuhwa (near the Hyatt Hotel) the steak I got was a disk of dried meat with a overly syrupy mango sauce. Outback is just god awful, VIPS, or Seven Springs- don’t even get me started. The one I had at Mignon, which is near Zelen (right up the hill from La Plancha) was quite possibly the only other steak place I would recommend. Their tenderloin was cooked well and of excellent quality- but a bit over priced at around 38,000 (excluding tax).

I went to La Plancha with my Irish friend Gary who is a musician that studied how to build microchips. Now he just travels the world. In about 3 weeks he’s just going to pack his bag and head to Cambodia. 

We ordered the T-bone and it came with a side, a sauce, and a skewer of grilled vegetables. This came to 35,000 excluding tax. Now, I had been told that the platters for two are actually quite good at this restaurant but…you know, guys can’t share a steak. It just doesn’t work.

The steak was large around, but a bit thin in thickness. It was well seasoned. I asked for it to be medium, but I think I should have asked for medium rare because it was a bit dry by the end. I know it’s not the restaurant’s fault here, because once the meat gets to the table the residual heat will keep cooking the meat. So…a steak will come to the table medium and it’ll end up medium-well by the end of the meal.

I got a bleu cheese sauce for my steak and it was quite nice. It had nice hints of bleu cheese and didn’t over power the meat. Gary got the balsamic and it was a tart accent to the grilled cow.

The skewers were great as well. But, hey, I’m a sucker for grilled vegetables.

The interior has a Spanish Matador feel. The red makes you crave meat. When it gets to the table, there is a nice selection of knives you can use to carve away at it. 

Overall, a very nice place for a special occassion.



3 out of 4

La Plancha 02 790 0063 

Original: Seoul Eats/ Blogger Version

When Food Bloggers Meet

I was lucky enough to meet Zenkimchi and Fatmanseoul for lunch last week in Myeongdong. It was fun because Fatman took us to a place that had conveyor belt sushi for 1,900 a plate. It was great because the fish was of decent quality and cheap. I had some nice mackeral there and I could tell that the chef had skill because it didn’t come out all limp like at some subpar places.

You’ll have to ask Fatman for where the place is.

Also, I went to Breadtalk for the first time and…OH…MY…Gosh… I can’t go back there. It’s just torture because the food is just so good. They have a Choco Granache that’s a chocolate bread stuffed with chocolate and then coated in chocolate and it’s good. Also they have bread with pork floss. Pork Floss!!! I didn’t try it, but next time…Oh…next time.

You can find this place by making a left at Krispie Kreme.

Original: Seoul Eats/ Blogger Version

CLOSED Korean Style Ribs= Awesome

So about a week ago I got a message on Facebook from another foodie adoptee that was considering coming to Korea to learn about the culture. So, I gave him some advice about living here and how to get visas, jobs, housing, etc and then we started to talk about food. We decided to meet and so we went up to Hongdae to this Korean 등갈비 (deonggalbi) place called RIB’s.

It was recommended by a friend of mine and it’s over by Seven Springs in Hongdae. If you go out exit 5, make a left. Go straight and then make a right on the road and make a left. Go about a block and then make a left into a little side street. You’ll see a sign that says RIB’s in big letters.

The place isn’t fancy. You’ll see poloroids of patrons from the past pasted on the walls. You have three choices for meat: plain with salt, spicy, and black pepper.

The service is great. They are very friendly and enthusastic about the food.

Michael and I got the black pepper and the spicy Ribs. They bring the thick marinated ribs to the table and they finish grilling them right at the table.

The spicy ribs weren’t bad. The spice wasn’t too heavy so it killed the meat flavor. It was a seeping hot with a 20 second delay. The black pepper ones were my favorite because it’s just not that common in Korea. Plus it really brought out the smokey pork flavor.

The Tengjang Chiggae was also quite good and so was the Naengmyun.

The price was a tad high. It was about 9,000 for each serving of ribs. I figure each person could easily eat about 2. I mean the one over in Nowon was a bit cheaper and had a bit more meat.

** (2 out of 4)
서울시 마포구 동교동 169-2
325 3579

Original: Seoul Eats/ Blogger Version

Visiting Seoul? This is what you should eat.

Readers, FoodieGymmie is coming to Seoul in April for the Korea Open Marathon and I wanted to pick out some restaurants for him/her. Sorry, tangent. You know what, in the Internet world we need to have a new designation for sex. I mean it would just be weird to call this person
1. it
2. this person
3. she/he him/her

Anyway, FoodieGymmie has a great blog on training and eating. I think I should follow the blog’s principle. You should train and then eat. Hmmm…I think I do too much eating and not enough training. http://eatandtrain.blogspot.com

FoodieGymmie said…

This is a great blog! just what im looking for! :)

Anyway, I will be going Seoul in April for the Korea open marathon, after which I will be staying for about 5 days there… is there anything which you highly recommend me to try?

10:51 PM
Daniel Gray said…

Foodie Gymmie,

1. Myeongdong Gyoja for their famous mandu and calguksu
2. Woo Jae Oak for their famous bulgogi and naengmyeon
3. Kwangchangshijang for street food, pajon, and jokbal
4. Uzbekistan and Russian Food around Dongdaemun stadium
5. Taengjang bibimbap in Insadong
6. Hanjangshik at Doorei in Insadong
7. Korean ribs at RIBS in Hongdae
88. Noryrangjin Fish Market for all things seafood.
and many more. I’d be happy to show you around when you get in.