Jeju cuisine expert Yongjin Yang’s new restaurant, Nangpunbapsang, combines traditional Jeju cuisine with a fine dining atmosphere.
The restaurant in Aeweol has a ten-course set menu featuring only food traditionally grown and harvested on Jeju. The dishes include everything from octopus and ginseng porridge to aged pork with pickled watermelon rind.
The restaurant has a very modern industrial atmosphere with concrete walls and tasteful driftwood wall-hangings.
▲ The restaurants taseful interior Photo by Veronica Spann
The same tasteful craftsmanship seen in the interior design is also evident in all the food served throughout the meal. Each of the ten dishes is meticulously crafted and presented in a way that is so aesthetically pleasing, you feel like you’re taking apart a piece of art as you eat.
During the ten courses, the host takes you on a culinary journey through Jeju’s food culture by describing the history and adaptations made to each dish.
For an additional cost, you can also add a variety of traditional alcohols to your meal. As with the food, each type of alcohol comes with its own story. You will be told about the legends and folktales that named the different drinks as well as how each one was made in Jeju's early history.
▲ One of the ten courses at Nangpunbapsang Photo by Veronica Spann
The commentary provided by your host gives you a connection to the food you are eating that is absent in most dining experiences.
The food itself is a sampling of seafood, meat, and organic vegetables grown in the restaurant’s garden.
The first dish is creamy scrambled egg with Jeju traditional sesame seed oil. This is followed by seven more appetizers, a main mackerel and rice dish, and a caramelized mandarin and rice cake dessert.
▲ Easch of the courses is meticulously crafted and designed Photo by Veronica Spann
Most of the appetizers were made up of two complementary elements, for example, hot porridge with a cold water kimchi or radish-stuffed buckwheat crepes with red tail fish.
Each dish was masterfully paired, with two components that balance and compliment each other well. The thought that was put into each dish and its presentation is overwhelmingly apparent.
Nangpunbapsang gives you the opportunity to pair traditional Korean cuisine with a high-class dining experience. The meal served at Nangpunbapsang is far more than simply a way to fill you up, it also serves as a culinary walk through Jeju’s rich food history.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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