although I now live in Hong Kong, I still keep up to the up and coming restaurants in Seoul. 뭐랄까.. it’s always been my hobby looking at amazing restaurants and I’ve always been very open to try new things. so this trip back, I made it clear that I want to make the most of it by visiting all these restaurants that I’ve been drooling on my computer for so long. truth it, it’s impossible to go to all. but for a great after exam celebratory brunch with my best friend, this quaint little restaurant in Ikseon-dong was it! (and because it was really good, I am so excited to share my findings with you!) not to mention my current obsession with the Scandinavian style small plates obsession I currently have (for people in HK I recommend Okra! blog post for that soon..!!!)
I was intrigued by this new restaurant mainly because it is somehow opened by a restaurant owner whom owns another successful (and beautiful) restaurant around the corner and how the ingredients are so colourful and attractive in the pictures I saw online. also one of the chefs an adoptee whom’s not afraid of expressing his own version of modified Korean food which makes everything a whole lot more interesting.
NOTE: this place do not sell authentic Korean food, but instead a creative twist (the style here might come across odd for people whom are not as adventurous) on Korean ingredients therefore if you are looking for the traditional and local Korean experience, I recommend you to read my other food posts as I have a lot of them!
the restaurant’s exterior is nothing fancy, very clean and it wasn’t very difficult to find either. it’s located very close to Changdeokgung Palace (really, I wonder why are Korean palace’s English names like that, especially because “gung” means palace, therefore the correct translation should really be Changdeok Palace). If you search for Ida Seoul on google, you can easily find this place.
my best friend couldn’t make it for dinner hence had to change my reservation (on Facebook) to lunch, where I was really lucky as they literally just decided to open for lunch a few days before I arrived! the only thing I was sad about is how the menu has significantly less choices for all that yummy dishes I saw on blogs, but the salad does seem to be a lunch special and the portions also seemed to be scaled down — perfect for girls! the small plates are priced from 8-16k won, which is pretty reasonable if you ask me.
there’s also a very elaborated wine menu. from what I know, their wine selection are all natural, meaning yeast etc aren’t added. I never had such wine before but it was really just too much to order a bottle for just the two of us during… brunch. therefore we skipped it, however, the orange wine will be on my list the next time I visit during dinner time!
the restaurant is more spacious than it looked from the outside and as we arrived really early, we had the luxury to choose the table we want. we ultimately settled for this table on the second floor where we thought would have great natural lighting for me to perfectly take pictures of the food *coughs* and only the food, of course..
also because it was facing a nice traditional wall which made the overall feel just a notch better.
the cutleries and tableware were presented in this small wooden tray (which I have at home too haha Ikea rocks) and everything else is pretty much self service. I don’t hate that the cutleries weren’t placed on the table for us because it really just felt much more sanitary and somehow cosy.
I am all about the details and I absolutely adore people who put diffusers everywhere so that the area can smell good! and… who doesn’t like Aesop. psst. they use Byredo soap and handcream in the washroom; my favourite brand of perfume (where I “accidentally” bought 4 bottles in Sweden…oTL)
this window kind of just look like art doesn’t it?
so let’s get to the food now shall we?!
first up, the 참외 수박무 샐러드 or the Korean melon (cham-weh) watermelon radish salad at 8,000won.
I was dying to try their watermelon dessert because I’ve always heard how watermelons make great salads but somehow I’ve never gotten the chance to try it.. but watermelon radish is close enough! I actually really really liked this salad because it’s so.. Korean. these are the day to day Korean ingredients; like the super sweet melon, where it’s acidified with balsamic vinegar (a littttle too much actually) and the sour pickled radish but toned down with yoghurt/cream. wished there were more of that cream but still a great dish.
next was this picture perfect 성게장 범벅 or sea urchin cream pasta at 13,000won. I would like to rephrase my stunned best friend reaction the first bite she took. “this dish looks absolutely foreign, but tastes absolutely Korean.” and I cannot agree more. this cold namul (Korean vege) pasta drenched in uni cream and bits of fresh uni here and there.. my only complain is.. I want more uni. dear chef, if you’re reading this, can you please add an option to add more uni?
unlike how it looks, this dish is very.. 고소해. I don’t know how to explain this in English, but I suppose it is very sesame-ish? there’s definitely a strong taste of sesame oil, mixed with the healthy taste of namul and an intriguing yet comforting finish of that amazing sea urchin. mmm. I wouldn’t say it’s the absolute best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth, but it definitely deserve an award for its creativity.
as soon as I saw they had pork jowl on their menu, I HAD to get it. pork jowl or 항정살, the cheeks of a pig, is like the Kobe beef of all pork… not in the sense that it’s from a certain place, of a certain breed of fed a certain way, but the cheeks of the pig is just that little, and its marbling is what makes this portion of the pig absolutely amazing. instead of heavy oily feeling, it’s very bouncy and somewhat crunchy (?).
this dish is the most expensive of the lunch menu at 16,000won but just one bite and it’ll blow you away.
what it’s sitting on is actually a bed of peach puree. and served with some toasted sugary chili (the only thing which I wasn’t particularly a fan of). the puree at the bottom is really just something new and something which you wouldn’t think about eating together with, especially when the pork jowl is so fatty. but it miraculously went along really well. I think this restaurant is really good at balancing yin and yang, but in ways you would never have imagined of.
they say a meal can never be complete if short of some delectable desserts. and I live by that a lot. the two things I usually judge a restaurant crucially on is its quality of condiments and desserts. if they do these two really well, I’d give it a super high rank. so for the 3 dollar popsicles they serve here as my happy ending, I would say — ending was happy.
on the left there is the tahini sunflower butter and on the right blueberry sour cream.
what they tasted was more like.. sesame with a dash of salt for the tahini and very very strong omija for the blueberry one. I honestly liked how the blueberry is so insta worthy and honestly think would taste great if and only if the tahini one didn’t taste 3 times better. my bias is towards tahini so if you’re there.. you know what to do. you’ll never get any ice cream close to this anywhere else. oh how I wish this was sold outside too.
my skeptical face when I first gave the milk like ice cream a bite. can you see in my face how much I liked it? it was that good!
overall I was very satisfied with my meal and am looking forward to go back for the dinner in my upcoming trip!
Ida Seoul ($$$~)
Kwonnong-dong 141-5 Seosun ra gil153, Jongno-gu, Seoul
12:00-14:00; 17:00-22:00 daily
closed on Sundays
value for money ☆☆☆☆☆