Seoul

Jung Sik Dang

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The dish I remember most vividly from the time I ate at Jung Sik Dang is the dessert that was served at the end. “Chocolate, molded into petals,” I thought, until I bit in and discovered a shock of blueberry, overwhelming in its flavor. I know, with great certainty, it was the first time a dessert had moved me so completely, and even years after, I can recall this darkly intoxicating rose that glinted violet-blue against the crystal dish in which it was set.

I remember also the diner who sat at the table directly in front of me. Her date was dressed in jeans and sneakers, but she, by contrast, had accessorized with Louboutins and an Hermès Birkin. Her face—the doe eyes, the pouted lips—was too perfect to be natural—and it never bore an expression, even as her boyfriend laughed and nuzzled her. I remember how, at the end of dinner, as they stood at the entrance waiting for their valet, I looked at her and she averted her eyes. How even then her expression was inscrutable.

There is a parallel to be made here about misleading appearances. Seoul, with its penchants for plastic surgery and factory-churned celebrities, has unfairly developed a reputation for superficiality. I can speak only to the dessert that I ate, which hid a layer of intensity I did not anticipate. I know nothing of the woman.

But I would like to imagine that beneath the scalpeled face, so carefully controlled, there blazed an inferno of emotion.

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Jung Sik Yim’s eponymous restaurant, which pioneered molecular Korean gastronomy when it opened in 2009, has remained a mainstay on the Seoul fine dining scene. The current space in posh Cheongdam-dong, which it has occupied since late 2014, features cream sofas, dark wood, and a striking ceiling installation. Expect riffs on Korean cuisine, like bibimbap (rice bowl) that combines traditional flavors with ingredients like uni and millet, and amuse-bouches representing miniature versions of Korean street food. Do not miss out on the blueberry Rose of Versailles, which is about as perfect a dessert as one can ever hope to taste.

Name in Korean
정식당
Address
11 Seolleung-ro 158-gil, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Hours
Mon-Sun: 12:00-15:00, 17:30-22:00
Phone
02 517 4654
Price
Around 150,000 KRW per person (excluding wine)

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