Saturday, May 6, 2017

Toc Toc (Seoul, SOUTH KOREA) ★★★★☆

I have been quietly looking forward to this lunch since I started planning our trip last week. There's a lot to be liked about Toc Toc ("Knock knock" in French), a casual French bistro hidden in the side streets of Apgujeong Rodeo. Freshly off as the "One to Watch" award winner in this year's Asia Best 50 Restaurants gala, a title given to the best rising star in the Asian dining scene, Toc Toc is starting to get on every foodie's radar screen in recent months. The last chef to win this award was chef Hiroyasu Kawate (Florilège) and he's now one of the hottest chefs in Japan. Will Toc Toc garner the same attention nationally and globally? At this point in time, it's still too early to tell.

Toc Toc's kitchen is helmed by owner-chef Kim Dae Chun who cut his teeth in France and Japan before opening this restaurant in 2013. Some of his signature dishes include his truffle pasta, homemade with truffle dough and finish with egg yolk and pecorino cheese on top as well as his foie gras dumplings with chopped truffles and apple-onion jam.

This is a casual dining place at lunch where diners can enjoy a light brunch or bistro food but at night, it turns into a lounge and wine bar for anyone interested in having great food and wine at the same time (This explains why they lifted their children's policy at lunch.). 

12-hour slow cooked octopus with tapenade - We decided to order one lunch set (₩38,000) followed by a trio of dishes from the a la carte menu. This came with the set and judging from its presentation, looked like we've made a pretty good choice right there.

The slow-cooked octopus was really tender and I like the way it meshed with the cauliflower cous cous, cucumber, radish and edible flower. Not bad.

Roasted scallops with black truffle cappuccino foam (₩34,000) - I was a little disappointed to miss out on their foie gras dumplings. Who would have thought that they would be sold out at 1PM? But thankfully, we had a very competent replacement in these roasted scallops which were really tasty. The black truffle cappuccino foam was pretty slick too. Very nice.

Cold angel hair pasta with lobster cream sauce and chives (₩37,000) - The other signature pasta here which is often overlooked due to the popularity of their truffle pasta. I thought I would never fall in love with a cold pasta unless it's served with sea urchin but I was wrong. This was seriously good and the lobster cream sauce was perfect in every way (taste, temperature, volume etc.). Another excellent dish.

Golden cream risotto with lobster and saffron (₩44,000) - We had a bit of a debate on whether the saffron risotto was actually better than the cold angel hair. They were both very very delicious so not surprisingly, the verdict was divided. I personally gave my vote to the cold angel hair only because I thought it's not really that difficult to find a good tasty risotto in Seoul which is as good as this one. But don't get me wrong, this was still a very impressive dish. A bit more lobster along with a stronger kick from the paprika powder would likely have put it over the top.

Bijang charcoal grilled 1++ Hanu striploin steak - Switching back to the set menu now, here we have the charcoal grilled Hanu striploin steak as our main dish. Of course, we had to drop a few more bucks to make it happen (₩20,000 to be exact).

I thought this was pretty decent. Like any Hanwoo beef, it was rich in flavor and all around fairly marbled but was it well marbled enough? Probably not.

I was quite happy with the remaining of the dish though, including some carrot purée, smoked purple carrot, bamboo shoot and zucchini.

Everyone was so full so we didn't order additional dessert except for the one we got from the set. But much to our delight, we were all offered a small sweet treat courtesy of the good guys here. A small "mille feuille" as our server called it. And this nice single decker with fresh strawberry made everyone a happy camper.

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: ₩₩₩
Address: 3/F, 33 Dosan-daero 51-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam, Seoul, South Korea
Closest Metro Station: Apgujeong Rodeo
Tel: +82 2-542-3030

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