Korean food is having a moment. From Bibimbap (mixed rice with red chilli paste) to Bulgogi (sliced grilled meats), the buzz is out and kimchi is even replacing miso as the latest umami food trend. If you love Chinese and Japanese food, then you’ll be a fan of Korean. Chefs describe the cuisine as punchy, lively, honest cooking. The tastes are strong and spicy and now is definitely the time to get acquainted with this thriving cuisine.
Mick and I were invited to the Dusit Thani Pattaya the other week to preview the dishes on offer at their Korean Food Festival. The distinguished Chairman of the Korean Chefs Club, Han Chul (hans) Bae presided over the preparation, guiding his brigade and producing some spectacular dishes. Master Chef and his top team had flown in from Seoul to celebrate at the festival and present the most authentic, delicious food.
Kimchi is by far the most popular dish in Korea. This fermented blend of vegetables is packed with seasonings resulting in a mix of spicy and sour essences. It is typically served as a side dish with rice but with its pleasing versatility the options are endless.
The Festival was set at the hotel’s Cascade Restaurant and on arrival we were greeted by a trio of attractive greeters beautifully turned out in Korean national costume. (The gentlemen’s “Gat”, a black cylindrical wide brimmed hat was sensational.) Executive Assistant Manager, Larry Choi, proficiently directed the proceedings and joined us for a lunch sampling of all the piquant exciting delicacies.
The first dish to be served was a peerless poached chicken roulade (stuffed with sticky rice) swimming in a chicken and ginseng broth sprinkled with chopped spring onion. Delicately presented the broth was topped with a ginseng root for complete authenticity. We loved it. It was light, healthy and tasted so nutritious and Chef told us it is known as a stamina reviver in Korea.
It was then time to take a plate and tour down the many laid-out buffet dishes. First up, and in pride of position was, naturally Kimchi. Two types were available made from cabbage and red hot in colour. It was a popular spot at the table. Steak tartare Korean style, served in china spoons was another hot spot for foodies while the Bibimbab was proving very popular. A big cauldron of warm white rice is spooned into your bowl and then topped with an array of individually prepared vegetables and then a big dollop of chilli pepper sauce is dropped on top before being mixed well with the rice. The Bulgogi of beef short ribs glistened and tempted to be chosen for another taste of one of the country’s most popular dishes.
Moving down the table, another chaffing dish invited inspection with a mountain of glass noodles liberally jumbled with seasonal vegetables with a big warming dish of grilled pork just shrieking to be a scrumptious accompaniment to the noodles. We loved the pork, red with chilli sauce yet soft and tender it was just a perfect dish.
The dessert table was laden with honey centred pastries and also a very special rice cake from Jeju-do island. Balls of glutinous millet dough had been rolled in a bean powder of mashed red beans making for a delightful chewy and sweet mouthful.
Served to complement these flavours was a glass of Omija, known as the five-flavour berry. Tangy, slightly sweet but definitely tart it perfectly closed our lunch time feasting on the best of Korean cuisine.
The Korean Food Festival ran from 26th November until 2nd December 2017. However the Cascade Restaurant will be featuring a Korean corner in their buffet.
Dusit Thani Pattaya Hotel is located by Dolphin Roundabout, North Pattaya. Tel: 038 425 611 or visit www.dusit.com/dtpa.