August 29, 2017

Korea Michelin tour day 5: Korean village dining

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Scanning through the list of restaurants which received Michelin stars in the 2017 Red Guide for Seoul, one of the places I had put on my hit list for this trip was 24Seasons (이십사절기).  The place looked like they served Korean food with a contemporary presentation, which would be right up my alley.

But Mikacina told me that Chef Tony Yoo, who was responsible for creating the cuisine that got the restaurant its star, had already left.  He had taken over an old restaurant in a traditional Korean hanok (한옥) in Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을) north of Insa-dong (인사동) formerly known as Doore (두레), and renamed it Dooreyoo (두레유).  If I wanted to get a taste of his food, this was where I'd have to go.

We arrived to find ourselves seated inside a historic hanok, with wooden beams and columns all around us.  We had a big group of 8, so they put us in the back of the restaurant, right in front of the air conditioning unit.  Thankfully they agreed to turn it off.

A choice of set menus was offered and, in fact, the restaurant was chasing us to choose our menu yesterday, even before we arrived at the restaurant.  Given that the restaurant's website is only available in Korean - which we can't read - I wanted to know how we're supposed to make our choice without trying to copy/paste into Google Translate...

And just like Jungsik yesterday, the restaurant insisted that the entire group take the same menu.  This was annoying, but we have begun to see this as the Korean way.  Once again the ladies had to step up and take the longest menu with the rest of us.

The menu was composed of different sections: earth, sea, fermented, land, and sweet. But first, a little something to drink...

Boksoondoga Makgeolli (福順都家 손막걸리) - naturally sparkling.  Nice acidity here, like drinking Calpis Soda.

Chef Tony Yoo came out to greet us, and introduced a few of the dishes over the course of our lunch.


First up was a few drops of Chef's soy sauce, which has been aged for 7 years.  I wasn't paying attention and thought we were supposed to sip it - especially since it was poured into a cup - so I drank all of mine... But I think we were just supposed to use it as a dipping sauce...  In any case, this was more like a fermented bean sauce in terms of flavor, with a fairly complex nose that is almost meaty.


Vegetable porridge - the porridge is made with the leaves of a 'pine tree' (more like a succulent) that is meant to be good for health. Surprisingly acidic and definitely whets the appetite.  The mul kimchi (물김치) which came frozen was naturally cold and delivered clean flavors, not too spicy.

Kimchi salad - most of the vegetables were presented as wafer-thin slices, with a sauce was made from yuja (柚子), and topped with pomegranate sauce that came as tiny, hard gelatin balls... perhaps an unsuccessful attempt at spherification.  Overall, though, this was a delicious salad.
Seasonal warm vegetable - yam with black sesame and doenjang (된장)  Definitely showed some fermented flavors.  Oh and slices of black truffle never hurt nobody...

Yam that was used for our dish.

Seasonal raw fish with caviar - thin slices of crunchy sturgeon served with some black beans and fermented beans like Japanese natto (納豆), as well as very finely diced spring onions which was almost like millet or quinoa.
Sturgeon used in our dish.

Cold crab meat salad - the disc had an exterior made of cucumber slices, and came with gochujang coulis.

The center was made of prawn meat surrounded by shredded crab meat.  Very sweet and tasty, and since it was served cold, it was also pretty clean and refreshing.

Seasonal seafood and seaweed - the pan-seared scallop came with a nice cauliflower purée, a gelée made from (octopus?), a slice of chewy octopus, squid ink foam, kelp which has been finely diced into the size of quinoa, and a spear of salicornia.  Lots of flavors of the sea in the bowl.  Very nice.

Seasonal fly - OK... so there was a translation error and it should have said "seasonal fried seafood"...  What we got were whole deep-fried rockfish with the seeds of mountain yam.

What I did not expect was a parade of FOUR rockfish - meaning that two people would share an entire fish...  Given that Hello Kitty "eats fish like a white girl" by her own confession, guess who ended up eating most of the fish?

There were also a couple of deep-fried river crabs, along with some deep-fried leaves.  I gotta say that although the fish was a little on the dry side, it was still pretty tasty.  And I ate pretty much all of it, including all the fins and the tail.  Yes, the cheeks, too.

Fermented steamed abalone - the abalone slices came with slices of very young bamboo shoots, accompanied by fermented abalone liver sauce and seasoned with black sesame.  The one complaint is that the deep-fried garlic slices had been fried for too long, and had turned bitter.


Pork - the steamed pork belly was wrapped in zucchini leaf.

And meant to be taken with either a fermented fish sauce or a fermented shrimp sauce.

We get some greens to make us feel a little healthy...

We get a beautiful banchan (반찬) - in this case 9 cheop (구첩) - with our rice and main dish.

Beef (雪夜覓) - this was BEAUTIFUL.  What looked like a piece of beef short rib was, in fact, tteok-galbi (떡갈비) - minced short rib re-molded around the bone. So, soooo tasty.  And the mushrooms on the side were damn good, too!

Doenjang jigae (된장찌개)

A very long (3½ hours!) and filling lunch.  The flavors and presentation were a little more traditional than I had expected, but the food was certainly delicious.  So glad we made the effort to come check this out.

As we were pretty full from lunch, a few of us decided to stick around and check out Bukchon Hanok Village.  We walked up the hill along the different winding alleys to look at traditional hanoks, some of which have now been converted from private residence to shops and tea houses.

On top of the hill, it is possible to get a glimpse of traditional architecture together with some of Seoul's modern skyscrapers in the distance.  I have to say it's quite an interesting view!

2 comments:

Fera Tjandra said...

HI, thank you for your review, I would really like to visit Dooreyoo, but is it possible for one person to dine there?

Peech said...

Hi Fera, I think single diners should be possible since there is a set menu. But depending on the menu you choose, some dishes (such as the whole rockfish) may be difficult for just 1 person.

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