This week, Shanghai Daily’s international dining series puts the spotlight on South Korea. Contrary to what some might think, the cuisine of South Korea is about much more than just barbecued meat and bibimbap. Zhang Yang and Yoyo He explore six of the city’s top Korean restaurants.
It is a favorite among local Korean barbecue fans. Chic yet unpretentious, it pleases the senses with its stylish decor and mouthwatering cuts of Australian Wagyu beef. Diners can sit back and relax while their meat sizzles, spreading tantalizing aromas throughout the artfully designed dining room. They can also savor the restaurant’s signature non-grilled dish: ginseng chicken soup. The drink-list includes an extensive range of New World wines and premium-label soju and sake. Smoki Moto’s signature cocktails are must-tries. They’re made of traditional Korean liquor, Hongcho soju and cucumber soju.
Located in South Korea Town on Hechuan Road, it serves authentic Gangwon-do cuisine. The place is run by veteran restaurateur Lee Yeon Nam, who racked up more than 30 years of experience in the food-and-beverage industry back in her native South Korea. Roast duck is the specialty of this small, home-style restaurant. The ducks are slow-roasted on skewers and then served alongside duck soup stewed to perfection for 10 hours. A duck meal costs 199 yuan (US$30.57) for three to four people, or 149 yuan for two. The seafood pie is another must-try. It contains shrimp, squid and other seafood ingredients.
Boasting more than 200 branches around the world, this Korean chain restaurant is a pub-style restaurant with plenty of meat-based comfort foods. Signature dishes include skirt meat, which is the muscle between the diaphragm and innards of a pig; galggeobi, a dish of chewy collagen; and rib fingers. Other traditional Korean dishes are also served here, such as Kimchi Jjigae, a spicy stew with pork and vegetable and Duenjang Jjigae, a soybean paste stew with marbled beef and seafood.
It is a husband-and-wife-owned Korean restaurant located in South Korea Town on Hechuan Road. Its signature dishes include spicy boiled chicken feet and coal-grilled pork intestine, both priced at 98 yuan. These dishes come served with a delicious home-made sauce, which the wife learned to make while still a college student in South Korea. “Some people who have never eaten the pork intestine began to love it after eating here,” she explained. “When it comes to Korean food, people immediately think of kebabs and sticky rice cake. I want to change that stereotype.”
It is the latest culinary venture at Three on the Bund. Chef Marja and Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten have joined forces to present traditional, yet innovative Korean dishes made with local organic ingredients. Popular dishes are roasted foie gras bibimbap, kingfish sashimi, and charred beef tenderloin with Gochujang butter. The gourmet dishes are complemented by a beverage menu of imported juices, beers, makkolli and an extensive selection of premium label soju (Korean liquor). Creative cocktails made from soju are a must-try.
A Korean restaurant originating from Seoul, it has risen to fame thanks to its mouthwatering Gejang, a dish made with crab meat marinated in soy or chili sauce. It claims to be the first specialty Gejang purveyor to use saltwater crabs instead of their freshwater counterparts. The restaurant uses female crabs marinated in mild soy sauce. The crabs are cut in half and served with their succulent roe on full view. It got a boost in its native Seoul after being recommended by one of the stars of the popular Korean drama, “My Love From the Stars.” Apart from Gejang, the restaurant serves various seafood dishes including steamed crab, spicy seafood soup and live octopus.