Restaurant review: Ocean Pine, on Jeju island

November 13, 2010

Ocean Pine seafood restaurant

It was too dark when we arrived for dinner. Therefore I could not take any good photo of the surroundings, the ocean, the cliffs, the view. But I have photos of a truly spectacular seafood dinner, maybe the best I ever had in my life. Breathtakingly delicious the food was.

Ocean Pine was the name of the seafood restaurant at the Southern coast of Jeju island. We ordered a set-menu, consisting of fish and other seafood. The pictures of my photo blog entry speak for themselves.

A tray of crockery and condiments is put before you

It starts with a soup of mussels

Followed by a piece of art

As starter some raw fish was presented to the diners

Followed by more raw fish

Some more condiments as well

A spectacular boat of assorted raw seafood was one the main dishes

Many shell fish and other delicacies

..some slugs among them

And raw fish again..

….this time, eaten the Korean way with a sesame leaf

Then the main courses were coming

A white fish

some prawns

and another fish

Abalone were the highlight of the meal

It also ends with a soup

In case someone should be still hungry, rice with fish eggs and seaweed is served

We had Korean beer with the food. I missed white wine I must admit. Here there is tremendous capacity for development on Jeju island. They could import some of our Australian wines many of which are ideal for the pairing with seafood.

I suggest you visit the island when you are in Korea next time. I also hope that many of the journalists and professionals attending the G-20 summit had the chance to check Jeju out. I will come back, for sure.

Korea: Seafood is just excellent

November 12, 2010

I hope some of the G-20 delegates in Seoul have the chance to stay on for a couple of days and go to Jeju island. This is a great place for nature lovers, famous for it’s mandarins, it’s abalone divers, it’s volcano mountain and good seafood.

You have the choice: some Korean fish or Japanese sushi? Your wish is my command. I just loved the food on the island and will show you some exceptional photos in some of my next blog entries. Stay tuned.

Delicious fish

Sushi collection

Where to eat in Seoul – Restaurant Review: Min’s Club

November 11, 2010

Tradition and…

Today Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is the host of the G-20 summit. Thousands of government officials from 20 major countries and journalists have converged on the city. The place is crowded, and very busy.

This summit is maybe one of the most contentious so far. South Korea, an OECD country, is the 13th largest economy of the world but was embedded in poverty only 50 years ago. Then per-capita income in South Korea was lower than in Nigeria, the Philippines and even North Korea. All together a different story today.

When I visited Seoul about two weeks ago, I had the chance to look around and get a feeling for this East Asian capital city. Of cause I also explored it’s culinary sides (as far as I could and my schedule allowed).

..the modern city

Seoul is a fabulous place, a modern city with many restaurants and eateries. Korean food is amazing; and distinct from other Asian cuisines. We were invited by our South Korean hosts to have dinner at Min’s Club, a Western style fusion restaurant housed in a traditional style Korean compound (the residence of Queen Min), the most beautiful surrounding one can imagine under such circumstances.

The gate

The main hall of the restaurant

The menu of the Min’s Club

Our hosts had ordered a set-menu. It started with a fabulous tuna fish – incredible, the texture and the flavours -, followed by a pea soup (also with a very intense taste), reminding me of winter days in my native Trier, Mosel.

The next dish was a mussel decorated “fine cuisine style”, followed by a white fish with lemon on a bed of vegetables. I even did not say no to the dessert, vanilla ice cream with a crusty waffle cover.

The tuna carpaccio

The pea soup

An artisan’s mussel

White fish with lemon on vegetables

Dessert: ice cream with a hat

The rice water to conclude the meal

I might have missed to photograph a couple of dishes.

Interesting was that at the end of meal, a kind of sweet rice-water was served. It balanced the stomach acids which were heavily tilted towards acidity by the many fermented vegetables consumed as side dishes.

We drank French red wine with the meal, wine from one of the many Mouton Cadet Bordeaux lines. I could not find out which one. It would have been impolite towards out hosts to ask, I guess. My picture-taking was already embarrassing enough.

Red wine cabinet

The décor

The décor of our dining room was just beautiful with lots of Chinese calligraphy, wall paper made out of fabric with flowery motives, and antique European furniture.

A very happy camper

Our dinner was very lovely with lots of interesting and stimulating discussions and conversations. What a wonderful evening. If you are in Seoul look out of Min’s Club; it’s worth it.

Min’s Club – Fusion restaurant
66-7 Kyungun-Dong Jongno-Gu (Insadong),
Seoul, South Korea
Tel.: +82-2-733-2967 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +82-2-733-2967      end_of_the_skype_highlighting (Korean only)

Korean food – a discovery

November 10, 2010

My recent trip to Korea was a kind of revelation as regards the discovery of Korean food. I was ignorant for too long about the intricacies of this type of Asian cuisine.

This is the first of a series of blog entries dealing with my recent experience in Seoul and on Jeju island.

Even Korean fast food, such as “tuna kimbap” (김밥) as shown on the photos below, can be extremely tasty.

It consists of a filling (here tuna with some salted or preserved vegetables) surrounded by rice and wrapped in seaweed. Delicious.

Tuna kimbap

Tasty Korean fast food

What to drink with it, you might ask? Well, I would suggest a beer. But one could also drink some of the many varieties of rice wine, for instance “makgeoli” (막걸리), a fermented Korean milky drink on a rice-wheat basis with about 6-7% alcohol. More about this later.

Another wine experience in China

November 7, 2010

One of the privileges of a frequent traveller, even if exclusively travelling on economy class, is the use of the lounge. As a “wino” this is great territory to sense and experience some of the global trends in the wine industry and/or the airline service providers.

One such trend seems to be the use of paper cups instead of proper glasses. That’s at least what my recent experience in the business class lounge (star alliance) at Shanghai Pudong International Airport suggests.

I found the “wine ensemble” below. Isn’t it cute?

Wine at your service

I could not resist a tasting of the two wines on offer, a white from China and a red wine from France. Unfortunately I could not find any trace of the French wine in the internet. I had noted down “Tour Gouvercin” as the name of the wine (a Cabernet Sauvignon) which was quite pleasant to drink, fruity with body and structure.

The second wine, a ‘Clos des Chenes, dry white wine’ by Imperial Court, a brand re-designed and re-established by Shenma Winery. The wine was a bit “thin” but since the cooler (as seen in the picture above) guaranteed a pleasant temperature, I found it not so bad, light but technically well made.

My wine tasting at Shanghai Airport

China is not only an emerging world power but also a booming market for oversees wines. Chinese grape wine consumption increased from 554 million bottles in 2004 to 899 million bottles in 2008. However, per capita consumption is still very low, about 0.4 litres per person per year.

That’s all good news for wine producers and distributors. Also that imported wines account doe only about 11.8 % (2008) of total domestic consumption is “music in the ears” of the non-Chinese wine industry.

Wine educators have their tasks outlined for them as well. Chinese consumers do not like tannins and acids, often perceive grape wines as “sour” only. This is why the mixing of red Bordeaux wines with coke and spite is quite common consumption habit. This needs to be changes, I guess. Since Chinese people have very complex taste buds, it should not be too difficult to make them appreciate the wonders of fine wines.

Shanghai: on the run

November 6, 2010

I had not much time for food and drink while on a business trip to Shanghai this week. But it is always interesting to visit the “Paris of the East”. Now that the World Expo is over, it was a bit more quiet than the last six months but the controversy of the award of the Nobel peace prize to Liu Xioabo kept the blood of CCP officials boiling.

What did the Shanghai Daily say? Hu’s visit to France which has become a good old friend again and the order of 100 airbus planes made the front page. This contrasted well with issues the Shanghai people are concerned with: the high tax/licence fees for their pet dogs. Nice mix of local and global.

My breakfast: coffee and the Shanghai Daily

After my talk which I gave to German students I had some time for a quick lunch snack: dumplings in a broth with noodles, and a glass of the house red, of cause a Chinese wine. Delicious. Nice mix of East and West.

Lunch snack with red wine