Dokdo Winery – Korean wine?

November 29, 2012

Korean wine

During a recent visit of the Korean parliament in Seoul, I came across the above poster. The advertisement was not about soju, the popular rice wine, but a wine made from grapes.

I was puzzled. Do they grow wine grapes in Korea? When approaching the display, things became a bit clearer.

The award winners

As it turned out, the display was about the islands of Dokdo, which are claimed by Korea and Japan in a territorial dispute arousing nationalist feelings in both places. The display was a kind of political statement.

A winery in the Napa Valley in California was bearing the same name, Dokdo Winery or Dokdo Vineyards. This brand was created by a Korean-American dentist Ahn Jae-hyun living in the Napa Valley, California.

Established in 2007, the winery produces about 20,000 bottles a year. Dokdo wines had also won a gold medal at the 2012 Korea Wine Challenge.

The 2012 Korea Wine Challenge

According to the wineries website, the new product was introduced into the market to draw people away from the controversial debate over which country – Korea or Japan – owns the rocky islands.

“Instead of appreciating the beauty of Dokdo, the world has been too busy fighting over it. The island should not be fought over; it should be shared,” the website said.

Unfortunately, I had no chance to sample the wine.

True is also, that Korea is an emerging market as far as grape wine is concerned. With rising incomes, wine consumption is also rising. In fact every restaurant I visited during my brief stay offered a selection of various wines, often from France but also from other wine producing countries.

Korean (fast) food

March 30, 2012

My day job kept me from blogging during the last two weeks, and I somehow lost touch. Sorry folks, I hope you bear with me. I am confident that I will find traction again as I have in earlier times of absence.

I just returned from a business trip to Korea (back to back with a visit to India). I love Korean food. The nature of my trip did not allow me to indulge in massive and exhausting meals. It was rather a kind of fast and quick break to get some basic food stuff.

Alas, Korea, today an industrial economy with a peasant past, has plenty to offer in the culinary department which can rival other “fast-food” cuisines.

One is Bibimbap (비빔밥), the other is “tuna kimbap” (김밥), I love both.
Below you can find it (or some of it). It was very yummy.

Bibimbap without egg

A Korean salad

The notorious 김치 Kimchi

A tuna kimbap (김밥) with a noodle soup

Korean home style cooking – 비빔밥

November 17, 2010

I am back to my recent Korean experience. Apart from the fine dining at expensive restaurants, I had also the chance of “home style cooking kind of food”. One of them is Bibimbap (비빔밥), which literally means mixed rice. The photos below show you what you can expect.

Frankly speaking I was very apprehensive when I saw what was put in front of me. The metal bowl put me right off. But, boy, this was a delicious meal, I tell you. You should definitely try it, if you visit Korea.


Every Korean meal starts with various kind of Kimchi, which are usually very tasty. The metal bowl for the Bibimbap was next. We mixed everything right through. It was a strange feeling, I must say.

The next dish was a soup.

The metal bowl for Bibimbap

Mixed in with noodles or rice

The soup

Korean beef on table grill

The beef was very tender. We wrapped it the Korean way in sesame leaves with garlic and chili paste. Just the right stuff for someone like me whose taste buds have become used to hot dishes.

Fresh sesame leaves

Meat on leaf

Makgeolli (막걸리) from a plastic bottle

We washed the food down with Korean beer and “makgeolli” (막걸리) the fermented drink on a rice-wheat basis and low alcohol (max. 7%).

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.