The day before my conference I met up with a friend from college and he suggested we eat at 달식탁 [Dal SSik Tak] since he heard many good things about the restaurant. We agreed to meet at the Sinsa station, which is a short walk away from the restaurant. Sinsa is located south of the Han River, which made it convenient for me because I had a pre-conference dinner at attend by the Seoul National University campus. I also haven’t eaten that much at the more upscale Korean cuisine restaurants because I’ve been mostly traveling on my own, so this was a great opportunity to try more traditional Korean cuisine.
We met up for lunch and the restaurant was completely empty, which was very nice and a little surprising! The interior of the restaurant has some really interesting decor (for outside decor, here are some pictures). There’s nothing like eating next to a giant horse statue in the middle of the room.
I love the chandeliers – they look like little bubbles of caviar! Yum~
The walls also functioned as a art exhibit for Lee Jae-Hyo, who created these awesome canvases from bolts, nails, and wood. Even though the sign said “do not touch,” it is so hard to resist especially when a neat design is sitting right in front of your face!
But now onto the food…we ordered the set meal which came with a soup/stew course, a shared entree course, and tea. I don’t remember the price, but I think it was around 48000 won for two people (~$48 USD) including dessert, which we also ordered.
The stew that I had was one of the best stews I’ve tasted! My friend said that he heard that all of their gochujang and doenjang are freshly made and shipped from the southern part of Korea to this restaurant every morning, which is probably why this stew tasted so good.
For our banchan, we received a lot of fresh vegetables and my favorite, honey potatoes.
We also received (from clockwise) kimchi, kelp chips, dried anchovies, and dollops of those fresh doenjang and gochujang. I was almost tempted to eat both of those sauces on those own – once I dipped and tried a little, I wanted to continue eating them all! The gochujang especially had a great depth of flavor and I could just imagine eating it out of one of those traditional jars…I wish I could find out more about how they make their sauces, but that would have to be for a time when I learn more Korean.
As for the meat, it doesn’t really look that impressive, but this was the best beef I have ever tasted. The delicate little strips were sliced sashimi-thin and eaten together with the chives and lettuce, there was a perfect melding of flavors and textures. The beef also had an intensely smoky, charred, and grilled flavor that I wasn’t expecting just from looking at it. Dipping the beef into the doenjang and gochujang sauces was heavenly as well. When I think back on my trip, this dish is one that I can still remember as a “perfect bite.”
Our tea course – I had the green tea. It wasn’t anything special but it was comforting and soothing to drink after eating a lot of meat!
We debated whether or not to get dessert here or elsewhere, but we decided to try the dessert here. I’m so glad we did because this dish is probably the best dessert I have ever eaten in my life and I am not exaggerating – as good as the beef was, this persimmon sorbet is what makes 달식탁 [Dal Ssik Tak] the best restaurant I’ve been to in Seoul.
The sorbet is thick and tasted almost like a persimmon puree. I’ve never had this strong of a persimmon flavor before and it tasted so fresh! The sorbet is sprinkled with walnuts and pecans and topped with some candied persimmon. Even though I was sharing with someone, I was super tempted to wrestle this bowl away and eat it all myself. Good thing the portion is pretty big! I like to think that I had a Ratatouille moment with this dessert – it was the perfect evocation of summer in Seoul and it reminded me of eating persimmon with my grandparents in their kitchen. I could continue to swoon on and on…
Big thanks to my friend for introducing me to 달식탁 [Dal Ssik Tak]! I definitely have to come back to try this restaurant again! And if I have time, I definitely want to go shopping here as well – there are so many cute stores on the main stretch of road and there’s also a Forever 21 here as well!