By Bahk Eun-ji
Traditional Korean food is sometimes too exotic for the taste of business people visiting here. Jungsikdang, in Sinsa-dong, Seoul was opened in 2009 by a young, adventurous New-York based chef, Yim Jung-sik, and offers a “new Korean” dining experience.
Yim applies modern culinary techniques to traditional Korean food to make it more palatable to foreigners trying it for the very first time.
Several set course meals based on traditional Korean dishes incorporating Western styles are on the menu.
The creativity evident across the menu brings smiles to the faces of hungry customers. For example, “Chicken Surprise” is a lightly fried chicken breast placed on a plate that is presented like a small flower adorned hill.
Korean elements are usually subtle but significant ingredients in dishes, such as the chicken with Kimchi chutney that tastes as good as it looks.
A hand-made milk chocolate pot shaped as a“Jangdok,” an earthenware vessel once commonly found in the backyards of Korean homes, gives diners a pleasurable treat at the end of their meal.
The pot, filled with peppermint bavarois, is made exclusively by the restaurant’s dessert chef, and is an incredibly delicious dessert that delights the taste-buds.
A modern and restrained interior creates a tranquil ambience conducive to business meetings. It demonstrates the holistic good taste apparent throughout the restaurant, but with the emphasis on food over fancy facilities. The leafy trees of Dosan Park are also visible looked through the large windows, offering urban diners a soothing glimpse of nature.
The well-trained, staff ― notably the sommelier but also all the waiters and waitresses ― give an explanation of each dish including ingredients used, why they are selected, and how Korean elements are incorporated with Western styles.
“As the key concept at Jungsikdang is New Korean Cuisine, a thorough explanation should be given to customers to minimize unfamiliarity and stimulate joy in eating,”Sommelier Choi Eun-sik says.
“Also we have expertise in choosing various bottles of wine from France, Italy and Chile that go well with the food, so customers can drop the conventional wisdom that Korean food does not pair well with wine.”