Monday, May 10, 2010

Izakaya Genji - Food Pic Blast!

Izakayas are tricky. Especially those in Seoul. Some serve highly Koreanized versions of Japanese side dishes, others with more authentic cuisine may charge you an arm and a leg and still leave you hungry.

However, there are always exceptions. Good exceptions. Fabulous exceptions, in fact.
Genji in Hongdae is one of those exceptions. Owned by a chef who honed his skills at a hardcore Japanese restaurant, the food is way above normal izakaya standards at prices so reasonable that my friends and I actually worried whether the place was making a profit.

We were introduced by the chef's friend last year before its official opening. The chef was worried whether the picky and mercurial tempered Hongdae clientele would appreciate his style; after eating only a few dishes we all told him adamantly not to worry.
It's now being toted as one of the hottest izakayas in northern Seoul and it's impossible to eat there without a reservation. Bravo, Chef!

The place is cozy and not overly done interior designwise. Feels like you dropped in a friend's place and decided to eat on the indoor terrace. There are several low tables as well, should you prefer to sit the traditional way.

The first time we went before the opening, the menu was a temporary print.

Food! I'll just let the photos speak for themselves. In no particular order :

Let me just break in to mention that the saba sushi (above) was excellent. Saba is such a difficult fish; it is rare to find places that serve you sushi that doesn't reek, which is probably why it's mostly eaten grilled.

The cream tteokbokki is a bonafide fusion dish. We needed something heavy to down our umpteenth bottle of sake. Their sake list is not overwhelming but carries most of the basics.

If a Japanese place serves up outstanding grilled sea bream, you know that place is good.

I'm hungry now.

Genji - Modern Japanese Cuisine
In the Hongdae district - Subway Line 6 Sangsu Station Exit #1
Reservations needed but does not accept reservations after 20:00
Tel. 02-333-8353


Puffin Watch said...

Izakayas have started to pop up in Toronto but they seem to have dropped the ball. I rarely see any good reviews on my Toronto foodie site for these places. Not many Japanese in Toronto so that might be part of the problem. It's like Mexican food in Toronto. Not many Mexicans and not many good Mexican restaurants.

seoulsuzy said...

Isn't there a large Asian population in Toronto, though? You'd think there would be some apt places.

Puffin Watch said...

There are many Koreans and Chinese but very few Japanese. There are a couple large malls that are all chinese shops and about 2.5 Korea towns but no real J-town. I think Japanese tend to go to Vancouver or the USA as they have visa wavers.

You should come to Toronto, man!