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LifestyleFood and Drink
Sampling Jeju's new, ambitious Western fare
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승인 2011.11.26  07:53:52
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▲ Cooking Story BOB opened in April but word of mouth has it well-known both with locals and tourists. Photos by Steve Oberhauser
Upon exiting the chic interior setting just east of Yongduam, ask yourself: Was it the best?

Cooking Story BOB (which is short for Best Of the Best) owner Kim Yong Pil’s foray into Jeju’s Western restaurant scene reflects the robustness of the eatery’s menu — bold and bodacious — from grilled veal-rib steak with red wine sauce to king prawn with herb cream, from smoked salmon salad with dill to pork-belly salad with tamarind, from panna cotta to mango mousse.

With so much background information, but no direct experience, about the restaurant overlooking the South Sea and the Ramada Hotel, two Jeju Weekly co-workers tried to discern an accurate culinary account.

First impressions were positive. The service is irreproachable from entering to sit-down where each patron is handed a lengthy accordion-folded menu listing choices, which includes 20 characterized drawings of all the restaurant workers.

Following a long peruse, she ordered sweet potato pizza for 18,000 won and he ordered the grilled veal-rib steak (50,000 won), along with an assorted seafood with herb oil appetizer (12,000 won).

With the meal comes bread, soup, a salad coated in kiwifruit dressing, and after, a basic coffee or tea with certain menu options.

“I choose all the groceries very selectively,” said Kim, a Jeju native, who opened the restaurant with his family after returning from Seoul. “In the beginning, we tried to use local ingredients, soon realizing due to our menu variety, it is almost impossible to get all the ingredients from Jeju. That being said, most of our ingredients come from the mainland.”

Even though the restaurant opened only in April of this year, it seems to be well known.

“About 30 percent of our customers are tourists,” explained Kim, adding Jeju locals are very indifferent to the restaurant’s expansive view of the sea since they are islanders. However, “Most of the tourists say the view is amazing,” Kim said.

Everything inside the restaurant and setting is fabulous and beautiful, matching many of the guests. Open, wood, light, sea. It takes a person outside the world of typical Korean Western restaurants.

After the food streamed to the table, this is the take.

The appetizer is one, piled-up medley of crab, mussels, shrimp, shellfish, and slices of prawn, while pretentiously drizzled by a dark dressing on the sides. For sure, recommended.

The pizza. Her critique: Like pasta sold in the restaurant, it is a little overpriced. Yet, the size was decent. Overall, it was all right. The dough, cheese, and baking were good. However, if one is expecting something along the line of a traditional Italian pizza, it is not an option. This is a very Koreanized pizza with sweet potatoes and corn, more of a dessert pizza with a very sugary taste. Kids might love it. For those with a sweet tooth, it would be highly recommended.

Cooking Story BOB serves seven more kinds of pizza (priced from 16,000 won to 24,000 won), such as gorgonzola and honey, seafood, mushroom (funghi), and tenderloin steak.

The veal steak. His critique: Cooked medium, the first eye-popper is the price. Steep for a small veal steak. Albeit, on Jeju, this can be understood. Probably very little competition. Having been on Jeju for a few years, memory is lax as to what this should taste like. Gladly, the restaurant’s gustatory sensation will be exactly the future expectations for any subsequent orders back home. Recommended, although with reservations.

“In the future, I want people to name this place when they think of a [Western] restaurant on Jeju,” said the owner gleaming with ambition. “I hope it becomes a landmark.”

To reach the goal, Kim is planning to regularly change the menu and keep up the immaculate customer service. Also, he mentioned he hopes to develop unique cuisine selections highlighting flavors of Jeju.

Cooking Story BOB is well worth a look, since there are so many choices and price ranges, as the cakes, breads, coffees, and set menus are on the low end extending to the four special courses set from 65,000 won to 100,000 won.

Whether Cooking Story is really the “Best Of the Best” can be individually determined by the reader. Time always reveals the truth.

Cooking Story BOB
503-5 Yongdam 3-dong, Jeju City
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Phone: 064-726-4004

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