For some, Christmas is the time of year you spend with family and friends unwrapping presents, eating prawns and having conversations about who gained the most weight over the calendar year.
For me, Christmas is the time of year I usually spend by myself, not worrying about presents, eating prawn flavoured cup noodles and having conversations with myself about how I gained this much weight over the calendar year.
This year? I spent it at Jungsik in Seoul, Korea.
Jungsik is a world-renowned restaurant having recently earned two Michelin Stars (and my heart but I’m getting ahead of myself).
We opened with a smorgasbord of pre-appetisers featuring a deep-fried oyster, smoked salmon cream and mackerel.
The deep-fried oyster was akin to a football of glory like a memento from the Superbowl; it was just an amazing bite of squid ink breadcrumbs and creaminess. Much love to the smokiness of the mackerel and salmon cream cone as well.
Top tier meals tick all the boxes when it comes to your senses. It’s got to look good, smell fragrant, feel like a million bucks when you’ve popped it in your mouth and sound like Mariah Carey singing ‘All I Want For Christmas” in your living room.
The tuna and caviar did look amazing, the sesame oil that accompanied the dish was incredibly fragrant, and it felt like I was making out with the hottest mermaid in the ocean. In terms of sound? Well, that was taken care of as soon as the staff told me that tuna would be paired up with caviar.
I love abalone because my parents taught me to love abalone. Same way they taught me to love imitation brands, chopsticks and my verbally abusive extended family. It didn’t always make sense but it did to them. Abalone I had growing up was a bit chewy, flavourless but hey, we do what we do.
Jungsik decided it was time I had abalone the way it was supposed to be had. It was smoky, tender and rich in flavour. A unique abalone experience that I didn’t have to learn to love.
I had gimbap at least three times during my two-week stint in Korea but none were quite like the gimbap I had the pleasure of sampling at Jungsik. Gone is the typical radish, carrot and cucumber and in its place is bulgogi, truffle and the crispiest seaweed this side of the East sea.
Santa didn’t deliver anything to me but who needs that guy when you have the Jungsik chefs making sure festive cheer is sent your way.
Perfectly cooked fish with crispy skin would be more than good enough for me. Jungsik decided to do me a solid and included another tiny bottle of sesame oil which took this fish to new heights like it was riding up an elevator.
Can I ride it again? Please?
More fish dishes than you can poke a stick at yet completely different from the branzino that preceded it. The textures in this dish spun me around like a Kylie Minogue song, there was some sliminess (pleasant slime), some chew, crunch and soft fish buried in the bottom of all of it.
I started from the bottom and wanted to stay there.
One of four indigenous Korean breeds, Hanwoo beef was something I was looking forward to trying immensely. It was soft, tender and had perfect marbling. I could have cut it with a butter knife and I’m not immensely strong (lifting noodles unfortunately doesn’t result in great biceps).
Apologies about the slightly out of focus photo, I was too focused on how good the food was.
Lamb has never been my favourite type of protein but Jungsik’s offering made me reconsider.
Definitely something to lamb-ent moving forward.
Please read the following to the tune of Mambo No.5.
A little bit of coconut pineapple sorbet in my life.
A little bit of lemon meringue by my side.
A little bit of white chocolate is all I need.
A merry Christmas and delicious dessert is what I see.
Here’s the TL;DR for everyone who thought I’d be retiring from food writing this year (not quiet yet):
- An unparalleled dining experiences and one of the best meals I’ve ever had during the holiday season.
11 Seolleung-ro 158-gil, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Open 7 days (bookings essential)
12-3PM and reopens from 5:30 – 10PM