Jungsik is one of our most memorable dining experiences in Seoul. It blends traditional Korean flavors with modern techniques to create highly accessible dishes.
The restaurant’s New York sister has held two Michelin stars for quite some time now and this year Seoul Jungsik received its acclaimed 1 Michelin star award in the first edition of the South Korean capital.
The lunch menu here is versatile – you can chose either 4 or 5 dishes or go for the full experience and order the testing menu with 8 dishes. There are 5 sections: appetizer, land, sea, rice and sweet, each with 3-4 dishes you can choose from. Luckily we went with the 4 dish option instead of 5, and I’m really glad we made that choice, as before the desserts I was feeling stuffed, very close to declaring defeat. The price difference was also significant
The amouse bouche are inspired by Korean side dishes. Each one is served with its own special way of consumption: drunk from a shot glass, eaten from a stick, or served as a cone (the one I liked best).
A crispy potato with cream cheese was served on a stick. Sweet and tender – an incredible bite.
The soy marinated rice with Korean soybean paste was less to my liking. It was pretty spicy and had a crispy texture.
The croquettes were served on an eatable stick. The crunchy exterior and mush interior, along with the thick sauce on top, turned into a fun and self contained bite.
The citrus shot was served to me with mint and to Opher without – to accommodate his allergy. They made sure to check allergies again when taking our orders.
Service at Jungsik is very efficient. The waiters are working in such harmony, like a symphony of dish cleaning with each one playing his role in the concert. All while being very courteous and professional.
To try as many dishes as possible, we ordered different types and shared. My appetizer – Octopus – was a hymn of praise to this marvelous creature. It featured octopus powder and cream and the octopus itself was fried and then steamed. It’s these kind of dishes that make you stop for a moment and really try to savor every bite. It’s also one of the most simple and yet stunning presentations of a dish we’ve ever encountered.
Opher’s dish – Spring Broth – was also an octopus dish, but the two couldn’t be more different. First, the presentation – this dish had a lot going on the plate, and its sauce was poured at the table by our waiter. Second – the taste and texture. Mine had smoky notes and the meat was soft and tender. Opher’s was a bit pungent, with a spicy\salty kick from the sauce and lots of seaweed flavors. It also had crunchiness contributed by the seaweed chips.
From the Rice section of the menu I ordered the Sea Urchin which reminded me of a bibimbap with kimchi, cabbage and sesame.
Opher ordered the Yukhoe, which is beef tartar, that was also served with cabbage. This one was much more subtle in taste. The rice was seasoned differently and we liked this one better.
My Pork Belly, from the Land section, was delightfully tasty and featured gochujang, the Korean chili paste. It included enough flavor to go along with the heat and wasn’t too extreme with the fermented tastes. A variation of this dish can also be found in other Korean dishes like bibimbap and rice cakes.
Opher ordered the OK Dom from the Sea section. It was a fantastic piece of steamed succulent and juicy snapper from Jeju Island. It had a flaky skin and was marinated with ginger and salsa sauce. The salad was sweet and refreshing.
Deciding on dessert was the easy part! I’ve seen their Dolhareubang dessert all over the internet, and knew I had to try it. What looks like a piece of art is in fact green tea mousse. It is shaped like the large rock statues found on Jeju Island. This whimsical dish had a subtle green tea taste that we really liked. The crumble and sorbet were delicious and we literally licked the plate. Ok not literally but we might as well have.
The other dessert we ordered was the Cheongdam Pie. This dessert was not only gorgeous to look at, but also was incredibly tasty. The mille feuille was flaky and was filled with cream that was flavorful without being too overwhelming and sweet. On top of it more surprises added different textures to the mix – chocolate crumble, glazed strawberry and milk sorbet.
The interior of Jungsik is amazing – modern and slick, and doesn’t feel uncomfortably upscale. The trees scattered around the restaurant add some warmth and style. The color palette is minimalistic – classic black and white and goes along with the light jazz playing in the background. The center of the space features round tables that fit larger groups, while the outskirts have tables for couples. The downside of the space is that the acoustics are not the best and you can hear the conversation from each and every table.
To end this fabulous meal we enjoyed some petit fours – hazelnut cookie and sesame cookie, along with coffee (not so good) and tea (so good!) that I chose after being presented with a series of
Jungsik is a fantastic restaurant on many levels: the decor, atmosphere and most importantly the food. It’s apparent a lot of thought and love are being poured into the place. To a westerner, the dishes are very accessible and yet funky enough to experience different tastes that you couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. If you ever find yourself a Foodie and in Seoul this place is a must.