March 24, 2024

50 Best and then some day 4: I'll Remember You

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After our very big lunch, the Man in White T-shirt decided to accompany me on my hunt for cute clothing for our CCDogcow. I had seen a few recommendations for Café Bite Me, and their online shop had a lot of cool stuff, but unfortunately the physical location was mostly a pet cafe with some pet supplies. Most of the nice clothing had to be purchased online. That was disappointing.

My day got a little worse when I returned to my room at Shilla Stay Samsung to discover that the temperature was 30°C inside. Apparently the hotel does not turn on the cooling function in winter, so instead of lowering the thermostat to a more reasonable temperature, my only choice was to keep the heating on or turn it off... WTF.

Well, this made me somewhat look forward to getting out of my room for dinner, some 3 hours after the end of my big lunch. I thought there was an event I didn't know about at Vinho (빈호), a wine bar which had recently gotten themselves a little macaron. As it turns out, the Man in White T-shirt wanted to check out the place and simply asked me to join him.

With a name like Vinho, I thought there was some Portuguese connection to this wine bar. The reality is that co-proprietors Jeon Seong-bin and Kim Jin-ho wanted to name the place after themselves, so "Bin" and "Ho" together made for vinho. I guess that works, too...

The setup here - with a long, C-shaped counter around the open kitchen - reminded us a little of the old Florilège... which was where Jin-ho spent some time. There's a 2-hour period at the start of the evening where a tasting menu is served, but then it becomes a casual, bar-like service where ordering is à la carte. As the two of us arrived somewhat early, we would be trying out the whole tasting menu.

Clam - the clam came with mini cucumbers, oriental melon (참외), and pickled miyeok (미역) - the latter of which provided both umami and acidity. The creamy sauce was made with peanuts and had a slightly grainy texture, and this was meant to evoke the classic dish of kongguksu (콩국수).

2022 Txomin Etxaniz Getariako Txakolina - very floral nose, flinty and mineral. Lots of tropical stone fruit like a good lolly water. Still got the acidity on the palate, though.

Yukhoe - on top of the charcoal éclair was a layer of yukhoe (육회) with gochujang, shallots and vinegar. Finished with a tri-color gel of parsley, paprika, and egg yolk.

André Beaufort Polisy Réserve, dégorgée en Mai 2023 - a bit toasty on the nose, more lean with some metallic notes, and perhaps a bit of sulfur? Acidity was on the higher side with a long finish. Later on with aeration this started to show more caramel on the nose.

Chicken - we were meant to dip the fried chicken bits into the charcoal aïoli. Not surprisingly the chicken was pretty tender, with some sort of green flavors in the seasoning which, thankfully, wasn't too heavy.

Oyster - we've got a little oyster ice cream together with oscietra caviar and seaweed oil. When put together, there was a good balance between the savory and creamy flavors. Then that little bit of shaved lime zest on top just added a little something nice to elevate it.

2021 Stadt Krems Ried Wachtberg Grüner Veltliner - refreshing, a little ripe on the nose. The palate was slightly grippy and clears the fishy flavors of the caviar, and the acidity made its presence felt.

Pumpkin - we've got a pumpkin crêpe folded over, with a whey sauce on the side.

Besides the hunk of pumpkin wrapped inside - with that characteristic hard skin - we also had shredded celeriac which reminded me of shredded coconut, along with a sauce made of suljigemi (술지게미) - sake lees.

Paul Prieur Sancerre Rosé Perpétuel - lots of juicy red fruits like cranberries. Acidity was high but at the same time, this could get grippy on the palate.

Quail - we have quail but made in the style of samgyetang (삼계탕), with the ginseng broth.

The shallot was stuffed with minced quail breast and basil, while the morel was marinated in soy sauce and stuffed with glutinous rice.

2020 Trimbach Riesling Vieilles Vignes - lots of petrol and polyurethane, or "white truffle". A bit more sharp with acetone, with a surprising resemblance to insecticide... I could see how the riesling paired well with the ginseng.

Abalone - so we have a "deep-fried dumpling" made with tofu skin, served with a sauce made of abalone instestines (or was it liver?) and a little dab of mustard on the side.

Served with some chamnamul (참나물).

Cutting open the deep-fried tofu skin revealed a combination of abalone and minced Korean beef, along with some bracken / gosari (고사리). This was, quite frankly, fantastic and the best dish tonight. The combination of the very tender abalone and the beef was really interesting, and even though the sauce was on the heavy side, I really loved it! In fact, I was suddenly reminded of the Peranakan dish of ngoh hiang (五香) - as both involve wrapping fillings in tofu skin before deep-frying. I really could have used another serving of this!

Rodenbach Alexander - obviously very fruity with cherries. Good acidity and not bitter. Paired very well with the abalone/beef combo.

Seasonal fish - the (red) tilefish from Jeju Island was cooked in the typical way by pouring hot oil on the skin side to that the scales rise up. Topped with some dongchimi (동치미) and micro-parsley. Served with a sauce made of rice porridge and dongchimi. The "tapenade" on the side was made with fermented chili and radish leaves.

2021 Histoire d'Enfer Petite Arvine Réserve - a little bit of toast on the nose, some buckwheat, almost a little savory. Very dry and grippy on the palate, with a long and sharp finish.

Deodeok sikhye (더덕식혜) - our palate cleanser before the main course.

Duck - the duck was brined for 2 hours before being dried for 2 weeks. It's cooked to about 60% done by pouring hot oil on top.

The duck breast was then charcoal-grilled. Served with some pickled mustard greens (갓), duck jus, and black garlic purée. The meat was very tender and succulent, not quite overcooked but starting to feel a little powdery on the edges. Nevertheless, this was very tasty and satisfying, as the skin was nice and crispy, with a layer of springy and bouncy fat underneath.

2020 Ravaut Ladoix 1er Cru Le Bois Roussot - very fruity and jammy, like a cassis or blackberry jam. Very fragrant.

Kumquat - kumquat sherbet with kumquat infused with honey, celery, mint sauce. This was so refreshing and beautiful, with some really crunchy celery. Such an interesting dessert.

Root - onion ice cream with root vegetable sauce and dacquoise. Garnished with crunchy potato chips, with a sprinkle of burnt vanilla bean and lime powder. The foamy sauce was savory and tasted like sunchokes. The dacquoise tasted pretty burnt.

Candied kumquats with lemon gel inside. Nice to see some gold foil at last.

1995 da Silva Presidential Colheita - nutty, honey, medjool dates, and orange blossom water. So lovely.

Since we're in the middle of 50 Best season, it wasn't surprising to run into chefs who are in town for the event, including Kawate-san paying a visit to one of his former guys. The Man in White T-shirt went over to greet the chef mafia, and I was tasked to take a picture of the group from afar...

I thought this was a pretty good meal. The food certainly came out tasty, and there were a few dishes where the kitchen got me wanting more. The wine pairing was definitely interesting, without the typical bongwater bent I see from so many sommeliers. I was pretty happy that the Man in White T-shirt asked me to come along, and I know I made quite a few people jealous by coming here tonight.

But the real surprise tonight? The playlist. Most of the songs were from the 70s to early 90s, including a bunch of stuff I had totally forgotten about. I definitely did not have "listening to Skid Row's I'll Remember You while sitting in a wine bar in Seoul" on my bingo card tonight. And the last time I heard something from Hall and Oates was... yeah, more than 30 years ago!

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