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Dandy Pink is a relatively new addition to the blooming culinary scene based around Itaewon's Gyeongridan area, which is a dense hive of forward-thinking restaurants, bars, and bakeries.
On the night in question, I also visited the vibrant Caribbean-themed Tucan, Craftworks Brewery (now an institution), and Magpie Brewery's open-air bar., all of which are within the same one or two block radius. Sadly, Dandy Pink was the extreme lowlight of an otherwise highly enjoyable drinking-and-eating spree. In fact, I didn't go with the intention of reviewing a restaurant (thus the lack of photos), but was my date and I were so disappointed I thought it could be constructive to write something in hindsight.
My date and I visited on a night of one of their "Seasonal Soirees". I thought, "What better time to finally check this place out than at a special event showcasing the restaurant's philosophy?"
The weekend's menu focused solely on monkfish. Having never tried it before, I thought the intense focus on an ingredient would yield a deep and intense revelation about the ugly-mugged fish I'd always wanted to try. I had a revelation or two but left with more questions than I arrived with.
Tucked away up a narrow, steep side street, the restaurant feels hidden away like a true gem should be. We were met with the presumed owner/chef outside tending to a charcoal grill, but there was no acknowledgement from him as we entered his (virtually empty) restaurant. Call me old-fashioned but a restaurant owner, especially the proprietor of a new place, should recognize new customers and do his best to make them feel welcomed. Service all night was cold and impersonal (and not even in the lovably sassy Korean way). We weren't asked if we enjoyed anything or what we thought about the food. Judging by the quality, portion, and value of the dishes on offer, the owner should have been more concerned about his diner's opinions.
Of the three dishes on offer, we ordered the monkfish skewers and "The Poor Man's Lobster", which was a smoked dish. The skewers, at ₩10,000 were passable, simple nuggets of firm, fleshy monkfish and cherry tomatoes served with a subtle garlic butter sauce and grilled on the restaurant's outside charcoal station, which seems to be the real centerpiece of Dandy Pink's concept. There was an accompanying salad of bean sprouts (more of the alfalfa variety but not exactly) that my date said was not to her taste but I found piquantly seasoned, if not a bit too oily.
My "Poor Man's Lobster" should have been labeled "Rich Man's Monkfish" as I received a thumb-sized sliver for princely sum of ₩12,000. The apple salad on the side was fairly pleasant and refreshing. The lonely Saltine crackers a broke man's crostini. The flavor of the smoked monkfish was reminiscent of liquid smoke to my uneducated palette; a mistake that could have easily been remedied with a much larger portion.
The glaring oversight of our meal was perhaps not ordering the "foie gras of the ocean," the monkfish liver plate. However, just like the other dishes, this one at ₩15,000 won, I'm not convinced the quality and quantity would have matched the price. In fact, the highlight of our meal turned out to be the complimentary dish of fragrant dried fruit (낑깡 and strawberries).
I understand that Dandy Pink's concept is tapas, done in a creative way and meant to be enjoyed with a drink in hand, but, at least on this occasion, there was a major incongruity between the cost and the actual value of what was on offer. After the aforementioned two tiny plates, a beer for me, and a glass of wine for her, we escaped paying ₩38,000 won for a disappointing beginning to our evening. The best things I can say about Dandy Pink is that it's striving for something and the place has a decent ambiance about it. Perhaps another visit is in order when they are serving their regular menu, but after feeling so skinned by this showcase event, I hope they can work out their kinks in service, quality, portion, and price before I choose to go back.
Cuisine: Tapas, Creative American, Bar Food
Suggested Items: Magpie Porter
Other Amenities: English menu
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