Gung The Palace
I was first initiated in to the delicious yet little known world of korean cuisine in my first year of college. I had the privlidge of befriending a Korean girl, who got as elated talking about food as I (always grounds for a beautiful friendship). She has a great blog on food, film/animation and a whole lot of cool stuff - http://eatmemiki.blogspot.com
Anyway imagine her suprise when she found out that I had never properly tried Korean food! Eeeks. So we made a date, we both starved ourselves the whole day so we could cover at least half the menu between us. Piece of cake! Wow I never knew it had so much to offer, from its smokey tender galbi, to its sweet and spicy gochujang, which I could slather on to everything, to its thick rice cakes- dukbokki/deokbokgi, more like fat noodles that look like stubby little fingers. Mmmm.
Ok before i cover my keyboard in drool fantasizing about these delights let me tell you about Gung The Palace. Its pretty good, you just need to know what to order. Which lucky for you I am here for. When Gung opened I was so excited that I was there all the time.
The place itself is quite archetypal of a lot of small Korean restaurants worldwide. Its plastic plants everywhere, and its Karaoke setup in the middle of the room, but the best part are the private rooms. Some on the first floor and two on the top floor (best ones in my opinion). You might want to call ahead, these do get full. Anyone with knee problems or cant cross your legs and sit? No worries even though it looks like you'd be sitting on the floor there is actually a pit for your delicate legs so its pretty much like sitting on a bench.
Lets start ordering:
Enter Gung = sober
Leave Gung = stumbling Well yes obviously because we've been drinking. What? Some soju of course! Korean rice wine can be made from yams or tapioca too. I guess it could be comparable to a sweeter tasting vodka if anything but still not quite. Definitely nothing like sake before you say it and sound like a fool. You can get the regular soju or the plum soju (yes I'm a wimp and I choose this, but its delicious and there's the dangerous part because you never know when you are going to fall face down in your bulgogi!) The owners are pretty hilarious and always make us play some absurd drinking games, one is where losing apparently equates to a lack of sexual stamina. Glad wet tissues thrown on a wall could prove our worth! Soju bombs are always fun too.
They offer about 8/9 complimentary side dishes known as banchan, these are offered in most Korean restaurants. Oh and they are usually unlimited but don't push it. My favourites at Gung are the scallion pancakes (you'll definitely be asking for more of this), the blanched sesame spinach, kimchi (can't not have the kimchi after all), the spicy cucumbers, sweet peppers, the bean curd isn't bad either. Ya ok so I haven't left a lot but thats not really a bad thing.
Ok now the main course. This is by no means all I have tried just the best in my opinion. More or less in order of preference:
- Beef Bulgogi - After kimchi this is probably to most well known Korean dish. Its a safe dish to start with if you are new to Korean food because there is very little to dislike here. Thinly sliced beef and onions, chunky garlic, mushrooms, scallions; cooked on a hot plate. Beef stays fairly tender and the somewhat watery bulgogi sauce is a perfect blend of flavours with the salty malty soy, acidity from the rice vinegar, sesame's nuttiness and the final sweetness from the sugar. The portion is pretty big and could easily feed three people.
- Wang Galbi - Galbi simply means ribs. They have beef too but trust me the pork is way better. The meat just has more flavour. Especially since its so lightly and simply seasoned a lot rides on the flavour of the protein alone. I love this dish and could settle for just this with some rice. Portion is not as big.
- My last visit though I was enticed by a new entrant - Marbled Beef. Marbled beef refers to the amount of fat in the layers of meat. The more the marbling the higher the quality of the meat, also the more tender you will find it. This marbled beef has no seasoning so they serve it with some sesame oil with salt, and some yummy gochujang. Honestly it wasn't that melt-in-your-mouth tender meat that I was expecting. But it was also over cooked. The server cooks it on your table and it does cook super fast so keep an eye or specify right from the start - which we sadly failed to do. Instead of the lettuce I ate mine with some sticky rice (includes a few beans and lentils).
Lettuce, Peppers, Carrots and cucumbers - put the beef, etc in the middle make a lettuce wrap if you like.
Gochujang - Korean chilly paste
Sesame oil w/ salt
It does have lot more vegetables than squid and you end up having to look for it. Tossed in gochujang (Korean, sweetish, thick, bean chilly sauce). Yummy! Definitely worth ordering.
Now if you are still hungry these are the next best options:
- Seafood Pancake - Its cooked in a thick cast iron dish. They add seafood (just prawns and squid in this one), scallions, to the rice batter. A little stingy with the seafood if you ask me but good and hearty nonetheless. Again its quite big (and heavy), could feed about 3/4 people depending on what else you have ordered.
- Chapchae - Another Korean favourite of mine with glass noodles, veggies and i like mine with an addition of thinly sliced beef. I love the shitake in it too. Has a strong flavour of sesame - delicious. The picture may not look as appetising but it's really yummy!
- Bean curd kimchi stew - May not be for everyone but I quite like it. Again the portion is huge so very filling. Its essentially a big pot of hot soup - spicyish because of the kimchi. Good for a cold night.
- Mung Bean Pancake - Taste like a pakora batter. Nothing more to it.
- Sweet and Sour Fried Chicken - Not the worst thing I have eaten but certainly not spending money on. Thick soggy batter with thicker gloopy sauce.
011 4608 2663
D-1 B, Near Ashirwad Complex, Green Park