What is one's Korean American experience with Chinese food? For me (and I'm sure many others may share this experience) it was growing up with Korean/Chinese fusion: jjajangmyun (black bean paste noodles), jjampong (spicy seafood soup) and some form of sweet and sour pork amongst others. Then again, I think this is what's most popular in Korea as well, and many may actually think this is authentic Chinese!
Over the years, I wasn't the biggest fan of Chinese food. Although I'm still planning on checking out the real deal in China someday. So when I heard that Michelin Star Chef Cheng Kam Fu from Hong Kong was in town to do a special one week event at Toh Lim Chinese restaurant inside Lotte hotel, it peaked my curiosity. He teamed up with the current Executive Chef You Kahung to do a special 7-course meal for KRW 125,000, that included items such as chicken wings stuff with bird's nest! Ok, never thought I would put the words 'Chinese + fine dining' in one sentence before.
Chicken wings stuffed with bird's nest
What I discovered at Toh Lim was a delightful surprise. Nothing was too heavy, over seasoned, or too sweet. I wasn't crazy about each and every dish, but every dish had a purpose. A purpose that led to the next course, then the one thereafter. My guest and I shared the special course by Chef Cheng, as well as a KRW 85,000 7-course meal that is part of their current lunch menu, which was nicely executed. To be honest, I think I would prefer this course over the special course for various reasons. For one, they served jjajangmyun noodles! Yes, definitely hit the spot for me. Hahaha. My guest ate like half of my noodle dish:(
At this point, some of you are probably thinking 'why is Sarah raving about Chinese fine dining' when at the end she's content with the black bean noodles? Oh geez. I guess even with Chinese fine dining, it's ok to finish off with the comfort foods that we grew to love. One more thing-I was happy to find out that there was absolutely no msg in their food! After my experience at Toh Lim, I am definitely on board with exploring more of Chinese cuisine. Hmmm, wonder what's next...
Braised whole abalone in black bean sauce to the left; Shark fin's soup with crabmeat to the right (this was amazing!).
Sea cucumber to the left; Stir fried escalopes of beef tenderloin with pepper sauce to the right.
Jjajangmyun (black bean noodles)
1, Jung-gu, Sogong-dong 100-070, Seoul, Korea/ 서울특별시 중구 을지로 100-070
Inside Lotte Hotel-Myungdong, 37th floor
Euljiro 1-ga station, (line #2)
Exit 7 or 8, you will see Lotte hotel to your left