When a good part of your childhood was spent in South Korea and you’ve developed a fondness for their unique culinary flavours (especially for Bulgogi and the ever-so pungent Kimchi), you become super excited when you receive an invitation by your alma mater to attend an elaborate Korean dinner featuring a 2 Michelin Star Chef whose restaurant just ranked #10 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016.
I had hit the Korean melting pot of jackpots!
Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea hosted the intercontinental star Chef Jungsik Yim. An accomplished chef, Yim has two very renowned restaurants, one in Seoul and one New York, which has already achieved the 2 Michelin Star status.
Chef Jungsik Yim working his culinary magic during the Korean Dinner at Signatures restaurant in Ottawa. (Photo courtesy from the Korean Embassy of Ottawa)
“Restaurants serving molecular Korean food might not be plentiful, but chef Jungsik Yim is on a mission to ensure that they are memorable. His eponymous ‘new Korean cuisine’ restaurant opened in Seoul in February 2009, heralded as the first restaurant in which molecular gastronomy was applied to Korean ingredients, and it has captured the imagination of Korean and international diners ever since.” – Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016
Chef Yim’s Korean dinner held at Le Cordon Bleu’s Signatures restaurant on Monday evening was for invitees only. In attendance were chefs from various restaurants in the Ottawa-Outaouais region along with several members of the Canadian Culinary Federation (CCF) and the Ambassador of Korea, Daeshik Jo and his wife. The Tuesday and Wednesday dinners were open to the public.
While guests mingled and enjoyed wine and other tasty libations, members of the Korean Culture Centre happily discussed and answered questions about Korean traditions and their new location opening very soon on Elgin Street.
The Food Tease at Signatures restaurant celebrating the Korean culture.
With opening remarks by Stuart Walsh, Head of Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute and by the Korean ambassador, the extravagant array of amuse-bouche were starting to be served.
Chef Yim’s use of foie gras was by far the best. It was served like a crème brûlée, inside was an ever so buttery foie gras mélange that just begged to be eaten…in fact, everyone wanted more.
Amuse bouche included: a sesame rice ball, a salmon mousse cone, a deep-fried mini “Pogo,” beef tenderloin topped with cucumber and the most decadently smooth foie gras “crème brûlée” inspiration. (some photos were courtesy from the Korean Embassy of Ottawa).
And, Chef Yim’s play on a ice cream cone and a pogo looking amuse bouche were stellar. A true testimony of how he uses his techniques in his modern Korean cuisine.
With almost every course, Chef Yim took the time to stop at every table and describe each course. He was figuratively taking guests to Korea as invitees hung on to every word that the young and very talented chef uttered.
Let the feast begin
Platter of Nine Delicacies
An elaborate Korean dish consisting of nine different elements. Seasonal tuna in the centre, accompanied by Namul (seasonal greens), soy-wasabi, yams, sautéed Kimchi, pickled tomatoes, smoked sour ream, kelp gelee and radish.
Platter of Nine Delicacies
Platter of Nine Delicacies: served with roasted seaweed. Guests were encouraged to create their bite-sized appetizer.
Braised in mild broth for hours then fried to give more texture. Served over Gochujang sauce. Guests were told that Chef Yim wanted everyone to experience the crispy texture and flavour that the tail of the octopus had. The flavours were absolutely amazing!
Chef Yim’s Octopus served over Gochujang sauce.
Steamed to rare and finished cooking by pouring hot oil over the skin with scales on. Scales puff up to giving it a distinctive crunch. Served with Namul (seasonal greens) and rice cakes. The snapper and it’s crunch factor with the scales was something else.
Red Snapper with Namul (seasonal greens).
Short Rib and Lobster
Marinated short rib and served with rice and crispy, fried quinoa and white Kimchi. And soy marinated lobster with vegetables on rice. Guests had the option of either the short rib or the lobster. I had ordered the short rib but of course I found a way to try the lobster.
The lobster caught me off guard with its very “raw-like” texture, something that we don’t see here in Canada. Both were delicious; however, the short rib won me over.
Chef Jungsik Yim’s Short Rib dish.
Chef Jungsik Yim’s lobster dish during his Korean dinner at Signatures restaurant.
Ginger Panna Cotta
Ginger vanilla pudding with cinnamon soup and Korean pear sorbet.
Ginger Panna Cotta by Chef Jungsik Yim.
Green tea mousse wit Korean ‘Jeju” green tea powder with peanut milk chocolate ganache filling. Served with chocolate cake crumble, green tea cake crumble and black sesame sponge cake. The detail of the figurine was off the chart!
Chef Yim’s dessert creation: Dolhareubang prior to serving. (Photo courtesy from the Korean Embassy of Ottawa)
Chef Yim’s dessert creation: Dolhareubang plated for his guests. (Photo courtesy from the Korean Embassy of Ottawa)
Chef Yim’s multicourse dinner represented very well the key elements of the Korean culture as I remember it. However, I must admit, as it was mentioned during the evening, that certain dishes were ‘tamed’ down in regards to spiciness.
Understandably, not everyone’s palate likes or can endure the spice level of some Korean dishes. However, it would have been interesting to see how Chef Yim would have used his creativity with those ingredients.
Signatures, alongside Le Cordon Bleu, gave Ottawa foodies a rare opportunity to experience a possible once-in-a-lifetime culinary event.
Not only were we treated to a Korean dinner created by a 2 Michelin Star chef, we got to interact directly with Chef Yim as he personally explained each dish table side.
And for The Food Tease, well I was spoiled as I witnessed a culinary genius doing what he does best in the kitchen. It was something else!
Seeing in action the 2 Michelin star Chef Jungsik Yim during his Korean dinner at Signatures restaurant was a true highlight for The Food Tease.
Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute has been hosting several noteworthy dinners involving special guest chefs in the last couple of months, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what is in store for Ottawa foodies in the near future.