Min’s Kitchen Seoul
On a chilly Thursday night in Seoul there are a surprisingly high number of ways to warm up. Soju and Korean BBQ most often top that list. I, however, find that I really enjoy a warm atmosphere with good friends, conversation, and great food. Enter Linda of Linda Goes East, a travel blogger who has not only traveled the globe extensively, but who has lived in Germany, China, the United States, and Korea (among others, I’m sure). She has a knack for finding the best of the best in each city, and showing off all of its beauty with vibrant, elegant photos. On Thursday night, I was her guest at Min’s Kitchen in the fancy Apgujeong area of Seoul.
The restaurant is located on a busy side-street in glamorous Gangnam (yes, that Gangnam). I noticed the French influence immediately. There were plenty of chic little cafes and wine bars dotting the small street as far as the eye could see. Min’s Kitchen wasn’t hard to find, especially as there was a glowing green sign in English directly out front.
We glided down the stairs, went through the automatic door, and passed between the massive bar and glass wall of wine bottles. I noticed the interior was very basic, but warm and appealing. The lighting was poor for blogger photos, but the light installation was enticing. There were several tables, a couple of booths, and three or so rooms for private dining.
This is why you’re reading, isn’t it? The food is a modern twist on Korean standards. We were treated to 5 elegantly plated dishes as well as some Moonbaesool (the featured image and 40% ABV). Mimsie over at My Seoul Searching thought it was crisp and tasty. I felt like Linda and I were pouring moonshine for one another. It’s the kind of drink to put hair on your chest, that’s for certain.
Once we sat down we were immediately served the Cold Bean Sprout Salad with four kinds of seafood and beef topped with soy sauce based dressing. The dish was served deconstructed and was prepared table-side. Four kinds of seafood is…a lot for me. I made the attempt anyway and found that this dish was on the mild side. I felt like it didn’t have much in the way of seasoning or flavour, although it was really beautiful to photograph! Linda, on the other hand, loved it! She was delighted at the fresh vegetables, seafood, mushroom, and beef combination.
I couldn’t get enough of the next dish! The Crispy Tofu Salad: fresh salad topped with crispy tofu and perillia seed dressing. I was never a big fan of tofu until I moved to Korea. I’m still not the biggest fan, but when crispy tofu is done right it can’t be beat. The tofu was, indeed, crispy on the outside, and the inside was soft and creamy. I always hate it when tofu has the soggy consistency of cottage cheese and this was miles away from that. The salad had the perfect amount of dressing for the lettuce, tomatoes, and sprouts, but it wasn’t overpowering. While Linda would have liked a soy-based sauce for the crispy tofu, I was actually quite happy to dab a little of the perillia seed dressing on my tofu bites and go to town!
Our next dish was the Oats with Fried Shrimp. I don’t tend to do very well with seafood in Korea, but I gave it a try anyway. Mum always said that good seafood shouldn’t smell or taste fishy. Unfortunately, this dish was definitely on the fishy side for me. Perfection in differing opinions, Linda preferred this to our next dish and happily took it out of my way!
Roasted beef sticky rice: seasoned #beef covered with glutinous rice flour. For some reason, I figured this was kind of like Thai Sticky Rice. I was entirely wrong. Instead of this dish being served with rice, the beef was actually covered in a fine glutinous rice flour. Imagine fried chicken, except instead of chicken it’s beef, and instead of your traditional batter it’s glutinous rice flour and served with honey mustard sauce for dipping. I certainly preferred this entree, and Linda was happy to let me slide it across to my side of the table! Be advised that this dish is topped with shredded sesame leaves. I particularly like this bitter plant having lived in Korea for nearly two years, but for some it can be an unpleasant surprise! To them, I say, “more for me!”
Our last dish of the evening was a bit of a surprise. We were still a little hungry at this point and the Pork Nurungji Gangjeong with a crust of overcooked rice (read: savoury rice crispy treat) mixed with crispy pork meat. This was a tangy dish with tender pork and a hint of heat. By the end of the night I had deemed it my favourite dish by far, but a part of me still wants to go back for that crispy tofu instead.
The menu at Min’s Kitchen is a bit intense! This lengthy list has lots of options for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. You can dabble in mild Korean cuisine or intensify and try dishes with more intense flavours. Check out Min’s Kitchen’s Menu below!
The Wine & Drinks Menu
Min’s Kitchen is the perfect place for an expat to take their parents who are in from out of town. This modern restaurant offers western-style elegance (and tables) while serving dishes which could be shared or eaten alone. This is definitely a bonus if your parents have yet to yield to the sharing culture of Korean dining! With all the 2-top couples tables it would be a great spot to impress your date if Apgujeong intro drinks go well and you want to grab a bite. The music was noticeable, but not overpoweringly loud, which facilitated easy and enjoyable conversation.