My first return to Seoul after 7 years and my business partner brought me to a proper welcome – a 15-course Korean meal fit for a king.
Myeongdongjeong serves Hanjeongsik 한정식 (Hanja: 韓定食) which is a fine dining set meal inspired by Korean Royal cuisine 궁중음식 (宮中飮食). Hanjeongsik is a full-course meal consisting of the finest Korean delicacies alongside savoury side dishes. It is a very special meal and was reserved to royals and aristocrats in former times, although this claim was doubted by many food historians.
전통 온돌룸 Traditional Ondol room
Korean winters can be chilly, but Koreans of the Choson Dynasty had used a method similar to the Greek and Roman method of heating for centuries. Ondol 온돌 is a heating system hidden beneath the floor. These days it is used to describe Korean style rooms. The restaurant offers private ondol rooms for party of different size. For those who do not like to sit cross-legged throughout the meal can opt of modern rooms with proper tables and chairs.
귀빈상 VIP Course
In former times, all courses were presented all at once. Nowadays, many restaurants prefer to serve the courses separately. There are so many dishes that the whole table is covered with plates. Each plate will hold different food, making Hanjeongsik the perfect way to discover the variety of Korean food.
And here are everything that was served in our meal, here we go – 15 dishes with rice and banchan and tea and dessert!
호박죽 pumpkin porridge, 계절샐러드 seasonal salad, 해파리냉채 cold jellyfish, 연어스테이크 salmon steak, 궁중잡채 court japchae, 삼색 전 samsaek jeon, 불고기 bulgogi, 오색감자옹심이 five-coloured potato ongsimi, 육회 beef tartare, 새우튀김 fried shrimp, 전복버터구이 grilled abalone with butter, 오색대하찜 steamed five-coloured prawns, 구절판 gujeolpan, 갈비찜 galbijjim, 된장찌개 soybean paste stew, 밥과 다양한 반찬 rice and various side dishes, and 전통 차와후식 traditional tea and dessert.
궁중잡채 court japchae
잡채 Japchae (雜菜) is a savory and slightly sweet dish of sweet potato starch noodles called 당면 dangmyeon (唐麵) stir-fried with vegetables and meat. Once a royal dish, japchae is now one of the most popular traditional celebration dishes, often served on special occasions, such as weddings, birthdays (especially dol, the first birthday, and hwangap, the sixtieth), and holidays.
오색감자옹심이 five-coloured potato ongsimi
As with many Korean dishes, gamja-ongsimi 감자옹심이 or potato dough soup reflects 5 Korean traditional colours, obangsaek 오방색, — white, black, red, yellow, and blue, which represent hope and longevity. In cooking, blue is substituted with green.
육회 beef tartare
육회 Yukhoe (肉膾) is beef tartare Korean style. The dressing is a garlic, salt and sesame oil dressing. A very delicious tartare, the hanwoo used has very good marbling.
Historically being a royal court dish during the Joseon Dynasty, gujeolpan 구절판 (九節坂)consists of 8 delicate fillings served around thin crepe-like wheat flour pancakes called miljeonbyeong 밀전병. It’s a dish served on traditional holidays such as lunar New Year and other special occasions. As with many Korean dishes, gujeolpan reflects 5 Korean traditional colours, obangsaek 오방색, but they missed out two items – yellow (capsicum) and white (radish).
Gujeolpan actually refers to a platter with nine sections that’s used to serve this traditional delicacies. You take the miljeonbyeong and put the rest of the ingredients on the crepe, roll it up and eat it. Just like our popiah.
밥과 다양한 반찬 rice and various side dishes
팥밥 Patbap (rice with red bean) and banchan 반찬 (飯饌) with a bowl of gamja–ongsimi–guk 감자옹심이국 made with zucchini, potato dumpling and anchovy broth. In Korean culture, patbap is usually eaten in the winter months, but it is also prepared for holidays and birthdays.
전통 차와후식 traditional tea and dessert
경단 Gyeongdan (瓊團) or Korean rice ball cake have various kinds of gomul 고물 or coating to provide a variety of flavours and to make them look pretty. They reminded me of ahboling, the Teochew glutinuous ball with different kind of fillings.
수정과 Sujeonggwa (水正果) is a Korean traditional cinnamon punch. Dark reddish brown in color, it is made from mainly cinnamon, sugar, water and ginger. It’s often served with gotgam (dried persimmon) and garnished with pine nuts.
There were a lot of food but the quality was haphazard between different items. For example, the yukhoe was great and then the osaegdaehajjim was overcooked. Service was none existence as after everything was served, the waitress disappeared and did not appear because they were busy with the wedding reception. Although it was traditional to have every served at once, the things turned cold very quickly. It’s like eating through a whole meal of cold dishes.
Myeongdongjeong Royal Cuisine Restaurant 명동정 明洞亭
60-3 Chungmuro 2ga Chung-gu, Seoul, Korea
서울시 중구 충무로2가 60-3 이화빌딩 1층 명동정
Tel : 02-3789-5130
Visited Nov 2022
#Myeongdongjeong #Hanjeongsik #궁중음식 #명동정 #KoreanRoyalCuisine
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