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I was invited by the Park Hyatt Seoul to try their new “Gangnam Style” menu. Longtime readers will remember how jaded I’ve become to Korean fine dining. It all tends to be about presentation while flavor takes a bland backseat. I’m happy to say that things are changing. There is a lot of competition between the hotels these days. Not only are they innovating their menus and the tired cliches of Seoul hotel dining (rip-off prices for the same mediocre pasta dishes), they are putting them in more competitive prices.
Details of the dishes themselves will change according to what’s in season, but this is a taste of what I had.
The Amuse. It’s a fun little garden of flavors. The crispy seaweed one can find in most markets. There was also puffy grilled rice cakes. But what I really made big embarrassing love groans over were the headcheese-like morsels of pork. Tasted like Christmas pate! But I could tell that was still a very Korean morsel.
Hwe. I was also at a launch party for this menu, where they served bite-sized versions of these dishes. This was by far the most popular. Slightly poached Jeju whitefish served on a mousse made with ssamjang and carrots. Surprising flavors, and I kept wanting more. Bright and tangy, and the mousse texture awakened the palate.
Get ready for some pork! This bossam was cooked sous vide for 24 hours and crisped in a pan. Served with a bright seasonal salad with pickled radishes. This was one of those pork experiences where you close your eyes and shut out the world in each bite. You know what I’m talking about.
Seafood Rice. I’ve had seafood rice before, specifically in Jeju Island. There was almost no room for the rice with an entire aquarium’s worth of sea creatures thrown in there. It required a good stir to scrape the crunchy rice nurungji from the hot bowl.
It tasted like a walk on a clean beach. Salty. Fresh. The seafood was cooked perfectly. Nothing was rubbery, even the squid and abalone.
A little seasonal dessert. Fresh grilled figs with a bokbunja raspberry wine granita. I love adult desserts. Not too sweet with a punchy tartness. W10,000.
But just because I just had to, I indulged in their Honey Bingsu with fresh honeycomb, pecans, and roasted apple puree. W10,000.
To finish, I indulged in their new Kimchi Bloody Mary. For Bloody Mary lovers, it pumps up the tartness level–that hardcore meaty savoriness we love.
Tasting menus start at around W90,000 while individual entrees range from W16,000 (Mandu Guk dumpling soup) to W48,000 (Grillled seafood platter).