Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Jungsik (Seoul, SOUTH KOREA) ★★★★☆

Finally, I am getting some "Me" time this afternoon without the family and with no further delay, I had my concierge ring up Jungsik before heading south to Gangnam myself.

Interestingly enough, I found myself a little ahead of schedule. Since I wasn't feeling particularly hungry at the time, I decided to check out the Figure Museum W which was situated just 30-40 steps from Jungsik's doorway.

But I didn't want to be late for my booking so following a brief 10-minute tour, I quickly hovered over to my "real" destination, Jungsik. This is a relatively new premise that they have just moved in last November. The entire building seems to belong to this Korean fine dining empire, with a bar (1/F), restaurant (2/F) and private dining area (3/F) all under the same roof.

Jungsik has been on an absolute tear the last couple of years. For the second straight year, they have been named the best restaurant in Korea by the folks from Asia's Best 50. It was also the first time a Korean restaurant accomplished the feat of cracking top 10 during the short history of the Asia's Best 50 list (debut in 2013).

This looks more like it! I still remembered their old place which I could never seem to get comfortable with. Finally they've got it right with the perfect ambiance in par with their fine dining theme.

I didn't remember they had such an impressive parade of amuse bouche last time. That's another pleasant surprise on top of the elegantly designed dining room.

I had to be real careful not to mess up the order recommended by my server, starting with this egg espuma. It's a little like a Japanese egg custard but a lot lighter and
felt almost like a foam.

Mini rice ball topped with marinated bellfish and fried rice crunch. Interesting bite.

This was my favorite nibble out of the bunch. Korean style marinated beef with gruyere cheese and puff rice cake on top like a skewer.

Fried mungbean pancake. Nothing special to report there.

Clams taco with avocado cream. My second favorite nibble out of the six.

Last but not least, meringue almond cookie. Something sweet.


Now that my palates and I have both been warmed up, we were ready to tackle something a little more significant. How about some shiitake mushroom? 

This was a picture perfect starter of confit shiitake mushrooms served with some parmesan cheese, rice cake, green beans and finished with a special organic egg yolk sauce. Apart from the breath-taking presentation, I thought it tasted equally good.

Next up was my bibimbap (Korean mixed rice) that came with a contemporary twist. I know they serve a very popular version with soft shell crab here but I was craving for some fresh sea urchin this afternoon!

Meet my mixed rice atop with a soft and fluffy slab of fresh sea urchin. Underneath that was cabbage, Korean kimchi, plain rice and sesame. When I first saw the dark-colored rice, I was strongly suspecting squid ink there but as it turned out, it was seaweed purée. This was very nice.

For my seafood course, I chose the grilled lobster with asparagus in a buttery mayo. The lobster was full of smoky flavors coming from the grill. Again not bad.

But the dish that impressed me the most was the final savory dish, pan-seared Korean duck. 

While the odd combination with deep fried tofu and rice paper did startle me a little at first, there was no doubt how juicy and delectable the piece of duck was. Absolutely love the yuzu sauce that gave the meat a bit of fruity flavors. Slightly behind the duck I had back in Soigne a few months ago, but definitely one of the best I've had in Seoul.

I knew I was in good hands when it comes to dessert in Jungsik. They always seem to surprise me with something special every time and this time was no exception. An adorable dish with cherry sorbet, panna cotta and cherry blossom sponge cake, finishing with rose water. Just perfect!

A little petite four featuring a small chocolate shell with green tea mousse and beans wrapped things up this wonderful meal for me.

It was apparent to me that this high-end restaurant has taken it to another level since my last visit. With Chef Jung Sik Yim's amazing talent, the sky is the limit now.

Food Rating: 7/10 
Price: ₩₩₩
Address: 11 Seolleung-ro 158-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Closest Metro Station: Apgujeong Rodeo
Tel: +82 2517-4654
Website: www.jungsik.kr/seoul
S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants: 93rd (2015)
S. Pellegrino Asia's 50 Best Restaurants: 10th (2015)

Asia best 50 restaurant Jungsik Dang Korean French fine dining amazing Seoul Korea

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