Sunday, December 30, 2018
Jungsik - Best Two-Michelin-Starred Restaurant in Seoul
Jungsik is a two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Seoul and New York. 25th on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list, Jungsik specialises in what they call New Korean Fine Dining. You can expect contemporary and creative Korean cuisine that's prepared with familiar and traditional ingredients. It's not easy scoring a table here, so do make your reservations way in advance. For me, Jungsik could very well be the best restaurant in all of Seoul. Every dish here was mind-blowing, and left a deep impression. The elegant restaurant sits in one of the most upscale areas —Cheongdam Dong in Gangnam — and dinner here might burn a small hole in your pocket, but I promise you that you'll find every penny extremely well spent.
One of the most elaborate amuse bouches I've encountered, Jungsik's ban chan was a collection of six items. There is a specific order to go about it, of course. There's foie gras & tofu chips, langostino & macadamia nuts, snapper & rice paper & sliced radish, smoked salmon cone, soy rice & oyster kimchi, and candied burdock. I love the salmon cone and foie gras & tofu chips the most, but I enjoyed each and every morsel thoroughly.
There are 2 menus available — 8-course tasting menu (KRW 200,000) or 5 course choice menu(KRW 130,000). I opted for the 5-course menu because I wanted the uni dish. For every course, diners have 2 options to choose from. For my first course, I went for the Scallop with Truffle Vinaigrette. Fresh and firm scallop with a tart dressing, what's not to love?
It was Sea Urchin(+10,000) with millet or Myungran for course number two. This was an easy one. I chose the sea urchin in less than a heartbeat. I was super excited for this dish. The fried millet was coated with seaweed, and the flavours of every ingredient just came together so harmoniously. I savoured this really slowly, because it was so good! It was crisp, crunchy, and creamy altogether.
The Black Cod was probably the dish that I relished the least. It wasn't that it was bad, but the other dishes were way more outstanding. While the cod was tender, and sweet, the accompanying dried radish and sauce were too intense, that they masked the natural flavours of the fish. It was good, nonetheless, but definitely could have been better, in my opinion.
The fourth, and the best, course was Hanwoo(+20,000). Of course I choose beef over lamb. As you probably can tell from its name, this is a cut from a Korean cattle. When I tried to cut through the beef, I was very surprised to hear an audible crack as my knife broke through the dark brown layer.
The beef had a beautiful pink centre, and I couldn't wait to pop a piece into my mouth. The first bite blew me away. The thin dark brown crust was really crispy and had a lovely charred fragrance. How did they even achieve that super thin and super crisp crust? The beef was incredibly tender and amazingly juicy. I really took my time with this course. Every bite was a party in my mouth, and it was a party that I wished never had to end. It was crazy delish. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it, to be honest. It's pretty much life-changing. It's a tad dramatic, but it almost brought tears to my eyes.
Before my dessert took the stage, I was given a pre-dessert — Jungsik's version of gin and tonic.
Presented with a Green Tea Mousse, Cheong Dam Pie (apple pie) and Hot Corn for dessert, I was spoilt for choice. I couldn't decide if I wanted the apple pie or corn so I asked the pretty server for her advice. She told me that the hot corn was really good and I heeded her suggestion. And that must have been the best advice I've received in awhile. Shaped like a corn was a warm corn mousse which was smooth, rich, and creamy. Lying on a bed of dried candied pecan and a powdered floral mix, the hot corn was a dream come true for dessert lovers. It's innovative, playful, and absolutely delicious. The play in texture, and the different flavours that the dried mix lent to the corn mousse were impeccable. This was undeniably one of the best desserts I've ever had in my entire life. Writing this brings me back to that very first moment when I tasted the ensemble. Wow, I can almost taste it in my mouth right now.
I had a pot of really nice tea to round off the meal.
I was surprised when the petit fours arrived, because I thought the meal had concluded. I was so eager to eat them that I forgot to snap a photo. As you might expect, the petit fours were great too.
I paid KRW160,000($200SGD) for dinner and it was SO WORTH IT. You can't even get such amazing food in Singapore for $400 please. If I ever go back to Seoul, I'll make sure to secure a reservation here. Jungsik, you're unforgettable, and I'll always, always remember this dining experience. Thanks for being my best meal of 2018.
1.5 months after my dinner at two-Michelin-starred Jungsik, I had dinner at two-Michelin-starred Odette. While the interior design and ambience of Jungsik can't match Odette's, Jungsik definitely sent out better food than Odette did. Service at both restaurants were equally impeccable, but Odette cost $465.50.