As you know Valentine’s day passed last week and despite having a number of favourite restaurants to dine at I still felt compelled to try somewhere new. I had heard great things about Kitchen Loading, so after doing a bit more research I thought it would make the perfect location for a romantic dinner. Located in Tteokseom the restaurant is a bit further away than I generally like to travel, but after seeing the beautiful pictures of the food and finding out a three course dinner is only 38,000 won, I felt it was worth a ride in a taxi.
Kitchen Loading is owned and ran by Roydon K, a Korean chef who trained and worked for many years in Paris before coming back to Korea to open his own place. The style is haute cuisine French cooking using as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible, many of which are grown on his own farm. The dinner menu reflects this by changing every two weeks and has just two starters, two mains and two desserts. This was perfect for our romantic dinner as we got to try everything. It’s also only 38,000 per person for 3 courses, though you can do à la carte and there is also a special 7 course tasting menu for 70,000 per person that is available on request.
It being a special day and all (one ending in a Y) we of course had a glass of wine each. The house red and white are priced at a very reasonable 7,000 a glass. As stated numerous times, wine is really not my drink but they didn’t have cocktails and beggars can’t be choosers. But I have to say the organic Chardonnay I had was delicious, so much so I had a second glass. And trust me after polishing off a bottle of bubbly on the taxi ride over I really didn’t need it!
One of my favourite parts of fine dining experience are the little extra tidbits you get in between courses and Kitchen Loading was no exception. We kicked off with an amuse bouche of mustard and linseed cracker. While I wouldn’t crawl over my grandmother to get my hands on another one it was a nice interesting mix of textures and flavours. It was super pretty too.
My starter was the Spanish Jamon and Spicy Apple Chutney (12,000) which I absolutely adored. The wafer thin ham was atop of a smear of tapenade and topped with fried Korean herbs, and a parmesan crisp. I loved the Jamon which came from John Cook Deli. I sometimes find it far too salty, and one would imagine that paired with a salty cheese like parmesan and the tapenade it would make it even more so but this was the perfect mingling of flavours and was probably my favourite dish of the night. TFB had the Sauted Squid in Black Wine with Measaingi Puree (12,000). The squid was tender and there was a nice sweetness to the dish thanks to the cherry tomatoes. It was also adorned with another Korean herb the name of which eludes me. I love the fact that these native ingredients are being used in Roydon’s dishes. While the rest of the world thinks of them as weeds, he’s using them in new and inventive ways.
For my main course I had the Lightly Smoked Pork Belly with Sunchoke Puree and Pickled Wild Chive Roots (20,000). This was the dish I was most looking forward to on the menu but personally I thought it was tough, and not the melt in the mouth experience one expects from pork belly. I enjoyed the accompanying vegetables very much and the sunchoke puree had a lovely nutty flavour but overall I was a tad disappointed by this dish. We fared much better with our second main course of Grilled Flounder with Root Vegetables and Yellow Carrot Puree (20,000). Again I’m not a huge fish eater but will enjoy a nice white fish from time to time. The flounder was very light and topped with crispy lotus chips giving a nice mixture of textures. I was also very impressed with the home grown yellow carrots, you honestly can’t do better than fresh organic vegetables from the ground.
For dessert I had the Hallabong Curd with Dried Tangerine in wine Syrup and Tangerine Meringue (9,000). Orange is one of my favourite flavours and my tastebuds were absolutely tantalized by the tangy curd. I also enjoyed the chewy leather and crunchy meringue. For our second dessert we had the Frozen Bitter Chocolate Cake, Nuts in Maple Syrup and Persimmon Mouse (9,000). I really liked the chocolate and persimmon pairing, and the mousse was especially light and almost like a brownie in texture. However I didn’t care so much for the crunchy elements of the dish. While these plates look like a work of art I just find them somewhat lacking. It’s very trendy to do desserts in the style of one flavour but in lots of different forms on the same plate but I’m old fashioned and prefer a more robust dessert that I can really sink my spoon into. I don’t mean to insult any of the hard work that has gone into these dishes I just prefer a bit more substance and a little less style when it comes to pudding.
Overall i was very impressed with Kitchen Loading. The whole meal with two glasses of wine each cost just over $100 which I think is excellent considering the quality and time that went into the dishes. While the modern Korean twist on European Cuisine is no new phenomenon, at most other restaurants of this caliber you would expect to pay at least double the price for the same meal. I was also very impressed with the level of service. The owner and staff were attentive, taking time to explain every element of the dishes and making sure we had everything we needed. Sadly this is often neglected within the Korean fine dining industry service and can sometimes put a dampener on what would otherwise be a very good meal. So thumbs to Kitchen Loading who managed to get right.
Kitchen Loading Urban farmers is located at 668-25, Seongsu-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul. For more information you can call them on 070-4109-1001 or check out their facebook page.