It’s official. The first-ever Michelin Guide of my favourite city — Seoul, had made its sizzling debut last week! I was so happy to find out that Mingles is again on their list, though I was a little disappointed that it didn’t get a higher rating it deserves. But hey, two years after their opening and a Michelin Star? It is definitely something worth celebrating.
I was already a fan when they first started at their humble underground property. I could still remember the warm service from the crew, and how chef Kang Min-gu went extra miles to re-design the menu just to accommodate my shellfish allergy. (Duh! Why it has to be me?)
The meal was incredibly delicious, and I regret only writing about it now. Well, it is better late than never! 🙂 Mine was a quintessential ensemble of Seoul’s unforgettably beautiful spring. Do note that their menu changes according to season, so you won’t get the exact same dishes when you visit them.
Seasonality. First on the table were three cold dishes: flounder fish, veggie wraps, strawberry puree and chives shot. A little bit of everything from the forest to the sea, I love how all the elements work together, so clean and refreshing it wakes my taste buds for the night.
Some other dishes that came right after the Seasonality. I couldn’t quite remember what were those on the jelly, though. The foie gras with the thin caramelised crust was a true delight.
Wine of the night was a 2011 Louis Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon recommended by the sommelier. It comes in a beautiful burgundy shade with a strong aroma of blackberries, cherries and dried herbs. A full bodied drink with a long finish. I liked it.
Lobster & Foie. A brilliant salad made of lobster and foie gras, root vegetables, spring herbs, truffle and black garlic dressing. At first bite, the pungent note of foie gras and truffle jump out at me, alongside with the taste of fresh lobster. The root vegetables create substance to the dish. The earthy notes from the roots and the refreshingly acidic taste from the garlic dressing encourage the whole dish to harmonise. It is jaw-dropping delicious that I almost teared upon finishing the dish. ↓
Up next were two dishes grouped under Eggplant. The eggplant custard, eggplant caviar, shrimp and vanilla dumpling were soul-warmingly good but the eggplant chip was the game changer. Sliced to paper-thin, the eggplants are coated with batter and deep fried, then topped with salmon roe for that extra juiciness and moist that pops in your mouth. The passion fruit sauce adds a pleasing fruity hints and notes of luscious foie gras sauce packs a lot of punch.
Seaweed was a brilliant interpretation of the usage of different kind of seaweeds in one plate. I was pleasantly surprised that even when flounder was the crab substitute in my plate, the chef managed to infuse sweetness in the maesaengi (seaweed fluvescens) broth. White kimchi, kelp and green laver were the ingredients that did the magic!
I had the Lamb as my main. I had never ordered a lamb at any restaurant because I simply hate the gamy smell. The waiter was confident and I thought I could give them a try – and it turned out to be one of the best choices of the night.
The perfectly charred lamb was marinated in doen-jang (bean paste), one of the cooking essentials in a Korean’s kitchen. The bean paste and the celery root were just nice to quell any gamy flavour. The tender meat goes well with the creamy cauliflower mash, makes it the best lamb I’ve ever had.
Korean Beef. Tenderloin beef charred to the slight crisp on the outside, melt-in-your-mouth-inside-state. The truffle sauce adds lusciousness to the meat, make it one of the most popular dish here at Mingles.
My pick for dessert was the Jang Trio – Strange as it may sound, 3 types of the most important condiments in Korean culinary are used in the dessert. Doen-jang (soy bean paste) cream brûlée, topped with vanilla ice-cream, then sprinkled with some Gan-jang (soy sauce) pecan and Gochujang (chilli pepper) grains, and finish off with whisky foam.
I have never imagined these salty condiments would make such good desserts. Chef Kang had extracted the sweetness from each of these sauces and they compliment each other so well. An impressive creation the restaurant should keep on their menu!
K prefers the Coco Winter – a dessert intricately plated with coconut tapioca, passion fruit sorbet, buckwheat cake and caramelised popcorn. I always love tapioca pudding and coconut, they’re like chicken to beer, so perfectly together. Creamy, refreshing with a fruity twist, this is a dish any coconut lover would fall in love the first bite.
Writer’s note: An impressive dinner in Seoul, a place I look forward to my next visit. If you want to splurge on one place during your trip, this is it. Everything was done right you won’t regret a single penny here. However, the reservation was a hindrance, though. I had to book 2 months in advance to secure a dinner on my desired date back then. Now that it is listed as the world’s 50 best restaurants and a Michelin Star restaurant, I expect the waiting list to be longer.
Gangnam-gu, Nonhyun-dong 94-9, 1st floor, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 강남구 논현동 94-9 더 채플 웨딩홀 1층 레스토랑 밍글스
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat| Lunch 12pm-3pm | Dinner 6pm – 1030pm, Last order 830pm.
*Sat & public holiday dinner 6pm-10pm.