If you like traditional korean food in a beautiful setting with great service, this is the place. I had their lunch menu which was the basic menu and I can choose to add more if I wanted meat or the signature eel rice. There was a signature menu too and that comes with meat as main courses.
The Korean tasting plate was made of items that are very traditional Korean. The very small and cute pancake was served beside the cabbage Mandoo. The beef jerky and mullet roe was salty but tasty and not too overly chewy. I liked the seaweed rice and crispy seaweed with perilla.
The first dish was the shrimp wrapped in zucchini flower and topped with julienned melon and pine nut soup. The texture and the freshness of the shrimp was crunchy and I like delicate tasting zucchini flower.
The snow crab Jeon was a bit small and for the price, I thought it would have warranted a bit more crab. It was tasty though with the herb sauce but Morton’s has the better crab cake IMHO. But then again, this place is supposed to be famous for its balanced (read: a bit bland) flavours.
The most underwhelming dish was the deer meat and seasonal mushrooms dumplings. The deer meat didn’t taste of much and the mushrooms was a tad tasteless. I usually love mushrooms dishes but this combination was seriously not something that came together well. The wild forest vegetable was nice.
So, their signature dish was supposed to be the grilled eel rice. You had to top up extra 10,000KRW for this in the lunch menu. It was a very mild tasting eel and the rice was not burnt enough, it was fluffy, don’t get me wrong but considering it took 20 minutes to cook on my table in the stone bowl, I would have expected more burnt taste from the rice. I guess my expectations were too high. I’ve had a better tasting one at Okra Hong Kong. And much better eel in Japan! The soup was good though and I had to add a lot of the fish roe kimchi to the rice to make it tastier
My favourite part was the dessert. The mugwort ice cream with the sesame crumble and fried mugwort leaf and the real seasonal edible flowers was delicious.
Yes you guessed it, my petite4 was also just 3 items. The ginseng burnt caramel sweet and the whole chocolate with berry wine centre was delicious. The choux was again, bland and texture was like it sat out for a while in the open.
Overall, this place is not value for money and the Basic menu would become about 80,000-100,000krw if you choose not to have the noodles that was in the basic menu. Maybe 2 stars for Kwonsooksoo is a tad too much? All the other guests were Koreans, so I guess it’s more of a place for Koreans who like food made for royalty, because apparently royalty food is supposed to be very balanced, not too spicy, salty, sweet, sour or bitter. Brownie points for the staff though. The service was good and attentive even though I was 50 minutes late, I underestimated the time I needed in beautiful Hanuel Park! On hind sight, I should have just skipped this altogether and spent more time in the park, but they took a deposit of 50,000krw from me when I booked this place.
Perhaps in another season the food would be better and more flavourful, but I won’t be spending my money on them again.