South Korea has a very rich history which is painstakingly apparent in the many historic dramas that are produced as if on a factory conveyor belt. Another place where this is apparent are restaurants that claim to serve food of the royals courts from days passed. In no other country have I heard the phrases ”This is how the old kings used to eat”, ”These are the same kind of utensils that they used to eat with hundreds of years ago” etc. Koreans are undeniable proud of the country’s history.
These kind of restaurants tend to be up-class ones where every dish is meticulously prepared and presented to perfection. Dae Jang Geum is no exception. The dishes all come in fairly small portions, but there are a multitude of dishes so in the end you’ll be content and happy after the whole sitting. The staff is also happy to refill your side-dishes in case you gulp the whole plate down.
Of course, a thing or two has changed during the last centuries in the culinary world. The first entree was a salad with citron dressing, something I find hard to believe was served in the ancient days (although I am happy to be proven wrong!) The glass noodles and jelly-like noodle dishes are much more traditionally Korean. The latter was actually my favorite dish and I believe it to be acorn jelly formed into noodle-like shapes. Nonetheless delicious!
The most intricate plate of the whole meal is the fermented fish that the staff cut open and split into bite-size pieces. The chewy fish is supposed to be dipped in green tea that has been poured over some rice. The tea prevents the fish smell and taste from being too overwhelming. At the same time, a few patties of beef were served. These are called ddeokgalbi and are made of short ribs. The sweet flavor is a good complement to the very salty fermented fish.
The meal is rounded off not with a heavy, dairy-based desert, but with a simple cup of black raspberry juice. A cup so good that it needed refilling.
Dae Jang Geum is a great place, especially for tourists that want some traditional Korean food without going to the extremes in flavors and spiciness which often happens if you grab Korean food out on the street, what with the cocoons, spicy rice cake chilies etc.
Address: 서울 송파구 신천동 29 롯데월드 캐주얼동 5층 – Lotte World Mall 5th floor, 29, Sincheon-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, Korea
Telephone: (02) 3213-4534
Website: http://daejanggeumkorea.com/ (Korean/English/Chinese)