Thursday, April 28, 2011

Samcheonggak (三清閣)

I think it's about time I update my blog :p Haven't been eating at many new/interesting places lately. So not much of new material to write about. There are still stuff that I haven't posted though, so here's 1 of those. Just been feeling very tired lately, everyday after work, go home, have dinner, shower and sleep. Don't even have the energy to turn on my computer, let alone to sit in front of it to process photos or write. 

Anyway, let's talk food. Went to Seoul earlier this year for holiday. Most of the stuff we had were street food, little things or supermarket food court stuff. I think I'll just make 1 post later to show all those in 1 post. For this post, I'll write about our meal at Samcheonggak. It's 14 course Korean fine dining :D It's the most expensive meal the whole trip. ₩110,000 per person (which roughly converts to AUD 110). 

Started off with some fresh vege sticks with dip. Some chinese cabbage, celery, carrot and I'm not sure the other 1 was potato or pumpkin or something else. Didn't touch the celery. Not sure what dip that was too. I think it was some sort of bean paste kind of thing. Very strong flavour. Only need a little bit. 

This was the pumpkin porridge. A bit like pumpkin soup, but with some oats and grains to bite on. Served together with the pumpkin porridge was the watery kimchi. 
A better picture of the watery kimchi. It's a bit like the radish/carrot pickles that sometimes get served at the side of certain dishes in Vietnamese restaurants. 

Here's the Seasoned King Prawn with Squeezed Pine Nut. The first thing that came to our mind was 'It's a bit small for King Prawn'. It was nice, but the prawn is not as big as expected. Just a normal size adult prawn we normally get in Sydney. 

We had a bit of problem following the dishes that were served looking at the menu. It felt as though they just served whatever that got prepared quicker. Hence, this dish which was supposed to be the appetizer came after the prawn. Anyway, I quite like these tiny wraps. The wraps were really soft, with some vegetables inside. It was something light which would be good to start the meal with. Pity it didn't come out in order. 

Again, another out of order dish - Platter of Dried Five Delicacies. This was supposed to be the very first dish according to the menu. It became the 4th to our table. I have no idea what they were, I'm guessing from left to right: dried pumpkin, then some sort of dried fruit, another dried something, candied walnut and dried strawberry. Strawberry looked a bit funny though. The top looked pale pink, the bottom look greenish. Almost like a mouldy strawberry :p Not a big fan of dried fruit. I guess these were alright since I did finish them all. 

This was probably the best course of the whole meal - Stir fried abalone. The abalone was fresh and soft. Not chewy at all. Stir fried with some sesame seeds and sesame oil which gave it the great smell. As soon as Robin had a slice of it, he told me he would try making this back in Sydney (nope, never happened :p). 

Something extra for us. Couldn't find this in the menu and have absolutely no idea what it was haha.. Can't really tell much from the photo other than there's a slice of cucumber sitting on top a pile of stuff. 

Jeju Sliced Boiled Pork Belly. Not sure what those green leaves were, they were very aromatic which went very well wrapping the pork and ate together. Using the 2 different leaves even with the same meat would give 2 very different taste to the dish.

This blob of red thing was the Korean Beef Steak Tartare. A blob of raw meat like that just didn't look very nice to me :p It wasn't too bad though. Just didn't think it was too special that's all. 

This was the Grilled Duck Breast & Angelica Salad. It was nice, but again, didn't think it was impressive though. It wasn't dry or anything, but it could be nicer if the skin was crispier. 

This was the Wrapped Kimchi. It taste like the normal red kimchi, except presented slightly differnetly. All the smaller bits and pieces were wrapped in the big chinese cabbage leaves and put in a bowl like a ball of vegetable. Then it was cut open with a pair of scissors in front of us at our table to expose the filling inside. 

This is another dish that was really good. Couldn't decide which was my favourite between this and the abalone. This was the Braised Short Beef Rips with Abalone. Beef was really soft, abalone was just as nice as the previous version the gravy was sweet and fragrant. Just couldn't get enough of it. 

This was the Seafood Sinseollo i.e. royal hotpot. This was the 'special' in the menu. The whole meal would've been cheaper if we didn't have this. Just thought since I went all the way there, might as well see what's the fuss about. Nothing spectacular. Just a seafood soup. What was interesting was the pot itself :D It was a mini hot pot that was meant for 1 person only. It was soooo cute! Tiny little hotpot. We tried to find it in supermarket and department stores in Korea, couldn't find them. I should've taken another picture that show the size in perspective. It was around 15cm tall, 10cm diameter. 

Some Oyster Kimchi as a side dish. By then we were so full already that we hardly touched it. Big oysters though. 

Our last savoury dish - Seasonal Hot Pot with Rice. Basically a vegetable soup with rice. Different sorts of mushrooms, some chilli, tofu, greens, etc. 
Rice that came with the vegetable hot pot was nice. It was purple in colour with lots of grains in it. Chewy and little bit sticky. I was so full that time but I still tried to eat as much of the rice as I could. 

This was the only dessert that we had. No idea what the name was, only cinnamon dessert was mentioned. It looked like a mochi, when I saw it I was expecting something sticky and chewy, but it wasn't like that at all. It was more a soft fudge sort of texture. Can't say that I liked it, but it was o.k. 

Cinnamon Tea was served at the end of the meal. Even though I didn't like the cinnamon dessert, but I thought the tea was nice. Maybe because the cinnamon taste is not as strong as the dessert. The cinnamon was a bit more 'humble' here. Tea was little bit sweet with the smell of cinnamon and some pine nuts floating on top. Good end to the 14 course meal. 

Overall, I think for the same price I could get something better in Sydney. However, I probably shouldn't compare it this way, since it's totally different sort of experience, different sort of cuisine. The only thing I didn't like was the way they served. Dishes came out in the wrong order (they knew that too because they actually said to us "we serve this first, that will come later"). Also, it felt like we were being rushed. Usually in a degustation menu, dishes come out 1 by 1. Here, even before we finished our first dish, they would served the second dish on the table with the 3rd dish waiting at the side. Maybe the mentality is not to have us waiting, but I still don't think they should serve the next dish before we finish eating. From my experience with degustation menus, a 10 course meal would probably take 3 hours if not more. Over here, we finished our 14 courses within 1.5 hours. It wasn't 'eat slowly and enjoy', it was more like 'quick! next dish is here already!'. 

Seoul-si Seongbuk-gu 
Seongbuk2-dong 330-115 

We were there for lunch, the restaurant had lots of windows around so it was nice and bright to take photo. Very spacious seatings as well.