Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Terreno (Seoul, SOUTH KOREA) ★★★★☆

After two slightly disappointing meals in a roll, I decided to turn my attention to a place a little off the chart before we head back home this afternoon. Terreno, a modern Spanish restaurant just a few steps from the famous Bukchon Hanok Village, is not a household name in Seoul like Jungsik or Mingles but it does have the reputation as one of the best Spanish restaurants in the city.

Situated on top of the "Dialogue in the Dark" centre on Bukchon-ro, Terreno's kitchen is run by Chef Seung-Hwan Shin who mastered his culinary skills in restaurants like Jumeirah Beach Hotel (Dubai), The Boathouse on Black Wattle Bay (Sydney, Australia) and Zuberoa (San Sebastian, Spain) before settling back in Seoul a few years ago. Chef Shin has been honored by Koreat as one of the top 10 chefs in Seoul last year while other winners included No.1 Mingoo Kang (Mingles), No.2 Jungsik Yim (Jungsik), No.6 Jun Lee (Soigne) and No.9 Pierre Gagnaire (Pierre). To be mentioned with such selected group of talented chefs, I guess he's got to be pretty good.

Good Spanish food is always a tough find in Seoul but Terreno is poised to be the game changer here. At least that's what I was hoping for.

Can't wait to find out myself.....

Terreno offers two set menus at lunch, a standard 3-course menu (₩40,000) and a 4-course tasting menu featuring chef Shin's seasonal creations (₩60,000). The tasting menu was the one we went for this afternoon.

Lunch started off with a small amuse bouche, a slice of toasted bread with what I thought was anchovy cream on top. 

That was immediately followed by a bowl of warm soup made with potato and green peas.

We had a choice between two different starters. Some of us went with the musk melon served with Iberico Bellota jamon and olives which was pretty refreshing.

But I actually enjoyed the other starter a little more. The seared scallop was nicely prepared with cider flavored cream and what I believed was coriander sauce.

The combination of earthy and fruity flavors worked out nicely with the sweetness of the scallop.

For our middle course, everyone decided to go with the Valencian style baked rice with lobster, sea urchin and Spanish saffron cream. This was basically Spanish seafood paella that was heavily flavored with something like a lobster (or seafood) bisque. The taste was really rich and rubbing the saffron butter and sea urchin on top of the rice gave it even more lovely fragrance. Very nice.

Next up for me was beef tenderloin served with Iberico jamon butter and morel mushrooms. For the third time in a roll, I was really pleased with what I was offered with. The tenderloin was perfectly tender, juicy and extremely flavorful (presumably with its own jus on top). After the slow start, they managed to come back with three great dishes. Outstanding job by the kitchen.

I stole a bit of char grilled Australian lamb from mom and while I thought it was reasonably good, it paled in comparison with my tasty beef tenderloin. I did like the sherry flavored root vegetable purée and lamb jus though.

After three excellent dishes, I knew it's time for some regression. The cinnamon souffle and chocolate ice-cream were fairly decent but it was the dishes before it that sent us home with happy tummies.

Before this trip, if someone would have told me that Terreno would outduel Toc Toc, Soigné and STAY by Yannick Alleno as my favorite restaurant on this trip, I would most definitely tell him that he's high on drugs. But strangely enough, this turned out to be reality.

Note: Unlike most good restaurants in Seoul, Terreno did offer an online booking system which made things a lot easier for us. Simply follow the link below for details.

Food Rating: 6.5/10
Price: ₩₩₩
Address: 71, Bukchon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Closest Metro Station: Anguk
Tel: +82 2-332-5525
Website: www.terreno.co.kr

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