Restaurant review: Bistro Seoul, Wan Chai – enjoyable modern Korean fare
Some modern Korean places are far too fancy, but Bistro Seoul gets things right, and the dishes were mostly good - with charcoal-grilled Iberico pork cheek and pan-fried potato cakes the highlights
You can often tell the quality of a Korean restaurant as soon as you’ve tasted the banchan – the side dishes that are served as part of the meal. At Bistro Seoul, they served only three – on our visit it was soy-marinated lotus root, spiced cucumbers, and lightly fermented cabbage kimchi. But they were nicely presented and of good quality.
It’s easy to be sceptical of modern Korean restaurants: too often, they’re far too fancy, and the flavours are insipid. However, we enjoyed our meal here.
Crispy boneless chicken bites with home-made sweet and spicy sauce (HK$95) featured tender meat and a not-too-sticky sauce. Even better was the Korean pan-fried potato pancakes (HK$68). They would have made a Jewish grandmother feel proud: moist, with crisp edges, they reminded us very much of latkes, but instead of apple sauce, they were served with a light soy dipping sauce. We couldn’t figure out the point of the corn chips on top, though – they didn’t add anything.
Charcoal-grilled Iberico pork cheek with spiced grated radish (HK$128) was fantastic – our favourite dish of the night. We rolled the thin, tender pieces of meat around the radish pickle, which provided tart contrast to the fatty pork.
On the other hand, pan-fried thin-cut Korean beef brisket (HK$398) was disappointing. We liked the shinseoncho salad served on top of the meat, but the beef was overcooked, tough (there was a piece of sinew running through it) and served tepid.
The restaurant offers several versions of bibimbap, and we chose the most unusual: rice with sauteed Korean vegetables and soybean paste (HK$118). It looked boring and healthy, but it had a lot of flavour. There was a nice mix of vegetables and shredded perilla leaves, but what made it special was the delicious, not-too-salty fermented soybean paste.
Our friendly waitress highly recommended the Korean rice cake with vanilla ice cream and crunchy rice crackers in sizzling bowl (HK$68). Tasted on its own, the rice cake was very dull, but it was much more enjoyable if you managed to get everything in one bite.
Bistro Seoul, shop G22 Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queen’s Road East, tel: 3752 2882. About HK$450 without drinks or the service charge
Other places in Lee Tung Avenue we’ve written about recently