Monday, July 11, 2016

Jungsik (Seoul, SOUTH KOREA) ★★★★☆

After two days of shopping and sightseeing, it was time to shift to another gear and kick off the gourmet portion of this trip. Today marked my second visit to Jungsik since they moved into their new premise 2 years ago and I am bringing my team with me this time around.

They were kind enough to hold a private dining room for us on the group dining floor (second floor) and all of us could finally breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing that even if my little nugget whines and cries like he usually does, he won't be disturbing other diners who's trying to enjoy a nice meal.

Amuse bouche - Lunch got off to a running start with Jungsik's signature amuse bouche. They have always got a good one here and this time, it's an entirely new set of nibbles, beautifully presented as usual. 

This was highlighted by a very tasty gazpacho, made with berries, strawberries and what I thought was bokbunja, a Korean fruit wine made from raspberries. An absolutely powerful thirst quencher!

Deep fried octopus with a spicy chojang aioli - Starting things off for me was deep fried octopus with spicy chojang and just one word to describe it - "hot".

The chojang sauce (椒醬) is a unique spicy-sweet sauce made with Korean red chili pepper. It's very tangy, rich and obviously very hot. Matches pretty well with the crispy deep fried octopus here. It was nice to find a nice piece of octopus that's not chewy or rubbery for a change.

Deep fried abalone, foie gras foam - I haven't had a deep fried abalone for the longest time. This is a very big abalone and very meaty. I thought they were going to pour the foie gras foam on top after the deep frying but obviously, I got the sequence all wrong. They put the foie gras foam on first and then did the deep fried. 

I really like this dish although the flavor of foie gras was a bit more subtle than I originally thought. But there's no denying that the abalone was really sweet and flavorful. A beautifully plated dish too, with the pink radish on top.

Korean "mixed rice" with sea urchin - I'm having this for the second time and still very much impressed. The sea urchin was again very fresh and sweet and it combined well with the seaweed puree and quinoa for an exciting finish.

Seared branzino with laver and baby octopus - I'm guessing this is some sort of traditional Korean soup with laver, baby octopus, cucumber, tofu, mini dumplings and white kimchi?

At first glance, I kind of thought it was weird to serve it with a piece of seared branzino but obviously I was wrong. This was seriously good and I was left amazed with how the fish and soup harmonizing each other almost perfectly with the contrasting flavors and textures.

Grilled lobster, Gochujang Beurre Blanc - I had this last time I was here so I just ordered it for mom to try. The lobster was noticeably "slimmer" than expected but the buttery Gochujang Beurre Blanc was a pretty nice touch.

Dolhareubang, green tea mousse - Dessert has always given me pleasant surprises here and it was no exception again this afternoon. I tried to play safe and went with their signature Dolhareubang, which literally means "Old Grandfather" stone statues in Korean.

Of course, it was referring to the shape of this dessert but underneath all that, it's just good old delicate green tea mousse served alongside some ice-cream, black sesame sponge and crumbs. One couldn't possibly claim to have eaten here without trying one of these babies (and taking a picture with one!).

Cheongdam pie, apple pie - Mom, the risk taker, decided to take a different route and went with their apple pie. Just when all of us were yelling "boring! boring!", something magnificent happened. Well, it's not the boring apple pie we were all expecting.

I decided to steal a corner from mom's apple pie and I have to say, this is by far the best apple pie I have tried in the world. Okay, the best one in Seoul - how about that. They have clearly put a great deal of thoughts into this one and it tasted more like a delicious apple mille feuille than anything else.

Petite four was a pretty standard one around here.

We had another very good outing at Jungsik and even mom looked awfully impressed with the contemporary Korean cuisine it has to offer. Although they didn't make it to the World's Best 50 Restaurants this year, they are still very much a force in leading the neo-Korean cuisine in the years to come.

Food Rating: 7/10
Price: ₩₩₩
Address: 11 Seolleung-ro 158-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Closest Metro Station: Apgujeong Rodeo
Tel: +82 2-517-4654
S. Pellegrino Asia's 50 Best Restaurants: 22nd (2016)

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