Saturday, March 11, 2023

Mingoo's Night

We had dinner at Hansik Goo the other night, when Chef Mingoo Kang (of the Michelin-starred Mingles in Seoul) returned for a visit and as the "guest chef" at the restaurant he founded a few years back. This time (at the event dubber "Mingoo's Night") he joined hands with Chef Steve, the "resident" executive chef, to introduce the new seasonal menu so we became the first group of diners to have a taste of it. 

Their new dinner tasting menu followed more or less the same style as in their previous iterations with small dishes in tasting portion being served in order, mostly seafood items, followed by the more substantial meat main courses towards the end, ten the dessert and sweets. The theme was to showcase many of the unique ingredients and techniques used in traditional Korean cuisines so on the menu and after each course was presented, they spent time explaining everything in detail for us. 

We began with a series of seafood appetizers, starting with geoduck clams flash-boiled and served with sweet and spicy plum gochujang sauce and the seasonal dureup (or angelica), followed by the warm porridge (juk in Korean) with baby octopus and caviar, and then the prawn "jeon", or Korean pancake. The juk with caviar was the interesting one with the strong hint of mineral flavor in a porridge served lukewarm with the texture that reminded me more of the Chinese millet porridge with somewhat of a bite. The jeon was on the thicker and crunchy side, unlike the thinner, more chewier version we are more used to, with chunks of prawns mixed into the batter.

The "Hweh Muchim" featured seasonal seafood with perilla oil, aged kimchi and cho doenjang (soybean paste). Both the fatty gumtae (rosy seabass) and cuttlefish (our seasonal seafood of the night) were served raw with the rich sauce dressed with the aromatic oil and aged kimchi underneath the slice of cuttlefish. “Mingle-ing Pot” was introduced as one of the signature courses at The Mingles which Chef Mingoo introduced to us at this special menu, with the rich chicken broth served in a small bowl with morel mushroom stuffed with beef wanja (meat patties), beef tendon, abalone and haesam (sea cucumber). A lot of food with bouncy texture with rich flavor.

Continuing with the seafood theme were two more courses – gumtae made a second appearance, this time with the whole fillet piece served with scallop rice broth and radish Jangajji (pickles). Then it was langoustine, whole piece roasted and served with sticky rice topped with caviar on the side along with a Makegeolli (Korean rice wine) Bisque sauce. The sauce with a hint of sweetness and alcohol flavor actually worked surprisingly well with the umami flavor of the langoustine. 

Moving on to the meat courses – first was a piece of chicken skewer served with homemade acorn jelly and topped with truffle slices. Was expecting something like Tsukune in a Yakitori restaurant but turned out it’s more delicate and mild. It was followed by our main course of Hanwoo beef striploin with pork sausages, then the king crab bibimbap and a series of banchan dishes. The beef was excellent with good meaty flavor and I love the bowls of kimchi served on the side too to go along with the rice. Of course, in between we had the supplementary course of Korean Fried Chicken, and they were finger-licking good. 

When I alerted them of my allergy to kiwi, they quickly replaced my pre-dessert to “Pear and Persimmon”, with a bowl of pear sorbet and persimmon granita at the bottom. The main dessert looked somewhat similar but tasted totally different – this time the rice ice cream with “spring vegetables”, ganjang and sesame oil, the course they dubbed “Sweet Bibimbap”.  We finished with Dagwa, the traditional tea snacks which worked like Petit Fours, with hot mulberry leaf tea served as our “digestif”. 

More photos:

When? February 20 2023
Where? Hansik Goo, 1/F The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central
Menu Highlights? Hweh Muchim – Seasonal Seafood, Perilla Oil, Aged Kimchi, Cho Doenjang
2018 M. Chapoutier Chante-Alouette Hermitage, Rhone Valley
2018 Spottswoode “Lyndenhurst” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

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