Jungsik Seoul is known for reinventing Korean flavours and ingredients with modern techniques. Just stepping into the tranquil yet not imposing dining room and we knew we were in for a treat.
While we had good street food, Galbi and seafood in Korea, our lunch at Jungsik was, without question, the best meal of the trip.
We started with a whole array of amuse bouches. Some were tastier than others, but they set the scene for both local flavours and extraordinarily pretty plating that would be a theme for the rest of the meal.
First course was fatty tuna served with seaweed crisps, home-made soy sauce and an array of accompaniments including wakame, kimchi and dashi jelly, for you to mix and match as you please. I thought the tuna was best eaten on its own, but everything else paired very well together atop the seaweed crisp.
Next up was abalone with a citrus mayonnaise. The tempura abalone was ridiculously tender, very fresh and the citrus mayo lightened the dish very well.
The octopus tentacle served with gochujang aioli was again perfectly tender with a great char, and the gochujang was a nice reminder that we were, after all, in Seoul.
Soy lobster came next - soy-marinated raw lobster served with rice and deep fried Sakura ebi on top. Bit surprising that a carb came so soon, but it was a small portion and very tasty.
Next was Ok Dom, which was red snapper with wakame. I love the wakame in Korea, and the one here was excellent. I also love how they prepared the snapper - they poured hot oil over the skin and scales, so they crisped up and were thin and delicate like filo dough.
The last savoury course was their version of Galbi served with sautéed mushrooms and buckwheat pancake. This was good, but probably the least interesting/impressive of all the courses.
Pre-dessert was Sujeonggwa, which was a modern take on the traditional cinnamon and ginger tea that is served at the end of Korean meals.
Dessert was their signature Dolhareubang, the name of the ubiquitous "grandfather" statues all over Jeju that are considered to be protectors. The statue itself is green tea mousse, covered with a cookie crumb. There was also a black sesame sponge, and ice cream. Tasted as good as it looked.
We ended with petit fours, and a selection of teas. A went with peppermint and I chose the buckwheat, which was a lovely end to an outstanding meal.
We had the 8-course tasting menu for KRW150,000; they also have 4 and 5 course choice menus for KRW50,000 and 80,000 respectively, but we felt that the tasting was better value all round, since many of the dishes in the tasting menu required top-ups to the choice menu.
We'll definitely revisit whenever we come back to Korea.
Best meal in Korea. The only dish that wasn't fantastic was the beef, which was above average.
Will definitely be back.