Authentic Korean fine dining
An unexpected space in downtown Shanghai has been transported into a dynamic modern Korean dining experience.
Hidden behind an understated facade on Yuyuan Road, Jeju Izakaya is a restaurant bursting with authenticity. It boasts high ceilings, brick walls and wood features that surround a central kitchen which allows guests to view the creating, plating and serving.
It is a one-table dining soju bar with only eight seats, all facing the open central kitchen. The no-choice set menu is changed on a seasonal basis and every night the joint accommodates three rounds of diners, from 6:15pm till midnight.
Due to Jeju Izakaya’s extreme popularity I booked a month in advance to secure my seat from 8:15pm to 10pm. Next month’s reservation begins on the 15th of every month at midnight.
The restaurant does not accept six people booking because the remaining two guests would feel uncomfortable. But be sure to arrive five minutes early so every guest at the table will be synchronized.
A unique selection of tasty Korean liquor such as soju, makgeolli and yakju is available and the choices are generally pleasant to pair with the food.
Ryu Taehyeok, one of the Jeju Izakaya partners, is there every evening to ensure great hospitality. He said some customers misunderstand Jeju Izakaya only as an exclusive, fine-dining venue. Ryu says they are trying to express their reinterpretation of Korean food more than just an exclusive fine-dining establishment. They serve “just made” dishes with maximum freshness and minimum preparation.
“It is a place where I can share ideas with guests of how we make well-made food with Korean roots. Each journey here is made up of delicious bites with what we love to drink in Korea,” said Ryu.
It’s not a fine-dining spot but the details created set them apart from many other food concepts seen these days.
A well-designed 16-page summer menu is presented on the table.
The menu gives a clear understanding of the ingredients used in the set course and its origins, with pictures showing Ryu’s journey around South Korea, exploring some of the best ingredients from his native country.
Each course’s prime focus, of course, is on freshness.
Pork and seafood are mainly used, as they are specialties from South Korea’s Jeju Island, but what makes each dish interesting is the special ingredient or sauce sauced from South Korea that gives an artistic emotional touch.
For example, the blue bean soy sauce used for steamed abalone is made with blue beans in Jeju Island by a master craftsman named Yang Jung-ok.
It is the very first food to be registered as South Korea’s best cuisine by SlowFood. Botargo hairtail sotbob (hairtail on rice) was another delightful dish, using the most representative specialty of Jeju Island. People in Jeju serve the hairtail dish when holding a feast or treating an important person to show their appreciation.
Opening hours: 6pm-midnight (Closed on Sundays)
Address: 1095 Yuyuan Rd
Average price: 485 yuan