Last week I was meeting a friend for lunch and we decided to try out somewhere along the churros street in Gyeongridan. This street over the past few months has boomed like there is no tomorrow, and the new restaurants keep creeping higher and higher up the hill. Whilst I often walk down this street on my way to the station, I’ve not actually visited many of the new restaurants. For some reason I’ve prejudged them and fear they have only opened to cash in the new crowd of young Koreans visiting the area rather than for their passion for food.
However I decided I was being unfair and that I should at least give one of them a shot. After a walk along the street and a good look at the menus, many of which were over priced and serving just the kind of food I was hoping to avoid, we settled on Little Neck. I had previously read a review of the sandwiches by a trusted foodie friend so was more open minded about giving it a try.
On first impressions the restaurant is absolutely adorable. Very light, airy, and beautifully decorated. It had lovely large windows and the ideal spot for a lunch on a nice day. Despite the fact we were seated inside I still felt as though I was enjoying the good weather.
We glanced over the small menu which is a mix of open sandwiches and pasta dishes. I had my heart set on a sandwich, so went for the pork belly and ratatouille as one of my dining companions had already ordered the avocado sandwich I was considering.
The Pork sandwich (12,500) was certainly beautifully presented. The pork belly in this open sandwich was exquisite, soft and melt in the mouth, and is was complimented nicely by the red pepper relish. My only complaint is that I wish the bread had been toasted slightly, the firmer texture would work better with the warm and wet ratatouille, other than that it was a nice dish.
My friend SS ordered the Avocado sandwich (11,500). This open sandwich was topped with lashings of freshly made guacamole, some prosciutto and a poached egg. The guacamole was lovely and creamy with a nice hint of citrus flavour. Again I wish the bread had been toasted so it could better support the moistness of the guacamole. The prosciutto was a nice addition and added a little saltiness, and as you can see the egg on top was poached to perfection. A very interesting sandwich indeed, it would make a lovely brunch.
The third member of our party ordered the cream pasta (14,500). The words cream pasta usually make my skin crawl, the dish is the epitome of everything wrong with the Korean takes on western food. I’ve decided to categorise these foods as western fauxion as they are certainly not western or fusion and they are always just plain wrong. Anyway as mentioned I generally avoid any place which has this dish on the menu. Am I missing some treats? More than likely, but I’d say I’m about 80/20 percent right. I was offered a try and the food lover in me hoped I was wrong, however I was not. The dish was an atrocity. The pasta was so under cooked. I like my pasta al dente but this wasn’t even close, what made it worse was the very thin watery cream sauce. A thicker sauce might have hidden it a little, but the juxtaposition between the thin sauce and uncooked pasta highlighted it in every way. Plus the fact that the sauce was beyond bland, I couldn’t taste a thing, not even seasoning. I was outraged on my companions behalf at how such a hideous dish could cost 14,500!
I went into the day’s lunch hoping to have my mind changed about the new restaurants in the area, and while some suspicions were confirmed I also ate some good food and the only bad dish we had was the cream pasta which I would never order anyway. I think I’ve learned not to tar all the restaurants with the same brush, yes the menus may have dishes on the menu which appeal to the Korean palette, it’s not surprising as that’s the majority of their customer base. But just because they offer these foods doesn’t mean that everything else on the menu is a write off. The sandwiches at Little Neck were pretty good and we all left happy, they just need to work on their cream pasta.
Little Neck is located at 346-9, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight until you reach the underpass then go through and exit using the stairs on the right. Walk straight until you reach Street Churros and turn left. Walk all the way to the very end of this road when it forks take the left hand fork. You will see Little Neck just ahead on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-792-1476.