Location: Itaewon, Seoul
Price: approx. w40,000 for two incl. coffee
Contact: 02 793 5285, 02 793 7974
I don’t hesitate for a second to say that Flying Pan Blue has the best Western breakfast in Korea. From the tea brewed fresh from good quality leaves to the thick, sweet cuts of bacon there are few restos on the peninsula that can compete. Flying Pan has an artisanal flare to all its dishes that is so sorely lacking any where else in the country. It’s in the goat cheese and hummus that comes with the all-day brunch (w14000), it’s in the focaccia and fresh greens in the Dijon Beef Sandwich (w11000), it’s in the whimsically eclectic decor, it’s even in the hilariously witty name.
This week I happened upon these orphaned tomatoes at a local farmer’s market. The ajumma needed some convincing to sell them to me because she said, they were “no good”. No good my eye! They may be all differnt shapes and colours but there is no mistaking the look of tomatoes right off the vine. When you have managed to score some great hand-grown local produce like this the last thing you want to do is mess with their natural flavour. In fact the best recipe for fruit like this is a dash of salt. But given that my basil and mint are coming in and I still have jars full of cranberry beans I bought earlier this summer, its the perfect occasion of a tomato salad. If you don’t have a herb garden or you can’t find herbs in the store (in Seoul try Hannam Market or the Shinsaegae downtown, in Daegu try Sugar Joe’s pub, in Busan also try the big Shinsaegae Departments store) you can always use the inner leaves of celery which are brimming with flavors that compliment tomatoes and beans. This salad also goes well with a ball of mozzarella which you can get at any Costco and some Emarts. I also recommend a nice piece of grilled bread to sop up the juices. Cranberry beans are really easy to find, in the farmers market or department stores dried or fresh. You can also used any other beans you happen to have handy.
What: Made to order. Menu recommendations: Spinach (spinach, mozzarella, parmesan), Quatro Fromaggi (Emmental, gorgonzola, parmesan, mozzarella), and the Diavolo (salami, onion, red pepper, mozzarella). Slices range from w2,500 to w4,000. Closed Mondays. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday 10am to 10pm. Grab a slice between bars on Friday and Saturday nights ( 3pm to 2am)! (more…)
Location: Downtown, Daegu
Price: approx. w100,000 for two incl. wine
Che Sang Young, self-taught chef and owner of Daegu’s Dijon has been turning out proper, unadulterated Mediterranean cuisine in the city longer than any one else. Since as far back as 1990 Into, the tiny three-table bistro next door to Dijon opened its doors and Che Sang Young was there. Less than ten years later Into’s owner opened Dijon and Che Sang Young was the head chef. The first two years were pretty slow, he says, with almost exclusively foreign customers, but as time went on business picked up and Korean’s started coming in droves and Che Sang Young bought out the owner and took over as proprietor of Dijon.
Location: Hongdae, Seoul
Price: approx. w80,000 for two incl. wine
Hours: 6pm-2am, Closed Tuesdays
Contact: 02 6407 6064 some English spoken
Pakito Taberna is one of those places that I am reluctant to review for fear that one of my favorite spots in Hongdae will become everyone else’s favorite spot in Hongdae and make it even harder for me to get a table on the weekends. I’ve been going to Pakito’s nearly every time I come to Seoul for the past year and staying until they start sweeping around my table. It’s the kind of place I would go to way too often if I lived in Seoul, the kind of place that feels like home.
In keeping with last weeks ancient recipe for Lentil Soup this week’s Ratatouille has pretty deep roots in a Provençale preparation that comes from French military slang rata, meaning rough stew. Ratatouille as we know it today (the dish not the film) didn’t take form until the discovery of the New World and the introduction of tomatoes into the Mediterranean diet. This wonderfully simple dish has endured the centuries for one very important reason, it tastes phenomenal. Ratatouille is a mixture of ingredients that is greater than the sum of its parts. In fact, cooking each of the vegetables separately and then adding them together has even better results than this stripped down version. But who has time for that?
Location: Itaewon, Seoul
Price: approx. w120,000 for two incl. wine
Hours: 5:30pm-11pm downstairs, kitchen closes at 10:30, upstairs daily until 12:30 and 1am Thurs. to Sunday.
Contact: 02 790 0063
The first time I went to La Plancha back in 2006 it was the first international restaurant I had been to in six months and I still remember how giddy I was to see my plank of tapas arrive. I remember the stark animal prints on pale pink canvas that hung on the wall, the open kitchen, the smell of the grill, and the fact that they had Grappa. But La Plancha is not what it used to be. Gone are the home made pates and open kitchen. The grappa is gone too, and the animal prints now sit in the dirt under the stairs.
What: Turkey, Italian Salami, Coutry Ham, Capicollo, Roast Beef, Pastrami, Pepperoni, Italian Bologne
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