Lunched today at Mugunghwa, the unpretentious, smallish fine-dining restaurant on the 38th Floor of Lotte Hotel Seoul. Its large glass windows afforded great views of Mount Bukhan and the glass towers of downtown Seoul. Mugunghwa reputedly serves the cuisine of the Banga, Joseon-era nobility.
My lunch consisted of:
- "Sukjoen Meokgeori" (selection of natural-dried fruits) for starters. Not sure about the virtues of naturally drying fruits - they tasted the same as those freeze-dried fruits and vegetables I tasted in Bangkok;
- "Donnamul Haesam Salad, Ssuk Dubuseon" (sea cucumber & stringy stone salad, pan-fried mugwort tofu) - the "sea cucumber" was unlike anything we have in Chinese cuisine, but more like some crunchy shellfish; the mugwort-flavored tofu was very delicious though;
- "Yeongeun Ogokjuk, Chimchae" (5-grain porridge with crunchy lotus root bits, water kimchi. The porridge was so good and so fragrant, Ifinished it before I realised I'd not taken a picture of it;
- "Seohoe Gejjim" (Stuffed blue swimmer crab stuffed with vegetable medley puree) - as good, if not better, as the baked dressed crab which are so popular in HK-Cantonese restaurants;
- "Hanwoo Anshim Neobul-gui, Deowun Chaeso" (grilled marbled premium Korean beef tenderloin, baked vegetables) - indescribably delicious - the Koreans are truly masters of cooking beef in Asia. The accompanying fresh sliced mushrooms, garlic chips and fresh leaves with beanpaste complemented the meat perfectly;;
- "Jinji, Doenjang Jjigae" (multi-grain rice steamed in bamboo, served with beanpaste stew) - another stellar piece of culinary magic from Myugunghwa's chefs;
- "Saengsilgwa, Hwajeon, Hongsi Wunnoo" (selection of fresh fruits, pan-fried Korean rice-cake topped with flower petals, persimmon espuma). Like Chinese and Japanese cuisine, Korean desserts do tend to fall short. I'd never taken to Korean rice cakes - chewy & tasteless. The fruits were not mind-blowingly sweet and delicious likethose you'd find in top Japanese restaurants in Tokyo or Osaka, whilst the persimmon espuma was bland and tasteless. Not a good ending to an otherwise fine meal.
38th Floor, Lotte Hotel Seoul