After leaving this restaurant last year with a huge 70% discount thanks to the bloggers promotion by owner Leo, I was still every bit compelled to be honest. I told Leo that if I were to pay full price, I was not really sure whether I would be as happy as I was with a 70% discount. His food was great and in terms of Korean, it was almost on the edge of contemporary. I am receptive to new ideas and this was a cuisine I enjoyed. But perhaps a promotion like a fix priced 3 course menu to add value to the dollar will help his business break the ice to the market. To my delight, 3 months later Leo has put my advice to action and his restaurant Gaya now serves 3 course meals for a very decent $50. That includes a complementary appetizer, an assortment of kimchee, followed by your choice of appetizer, main and dessert.
That night, the complementary appetizer was a pancake drizzled with chili mayo. It was much simpler than the rice win cake served in my previous visit. But I liked it better.
Whilst I did not have a photo of their new trio of kimchee, I felt that Gaya has taken one step back from being contemporary to stick to its more traditional roots. In other words, to suit a layman’s liking. Definitely the way the public wanted it.
My choice of appetizer was the asparagus, with cream cheese and enoki mushrooms wrapped by a thin slice of beef. Seared just to color, and drizzled with a teriyaki style sauce. Good flavors but I tend to like cheeses with flavor and cream cheese is not one of it unfortunately. Yet this dish was delicious in its own way although the enoki tends to get stuck between your tooth!
XL went straight to one of Gaya’s new starters to seek refuge for her hungry tummy. The cheesy pancake. It was a fusion between a pizza and a kimchee pancake. I will be honest that it was a shocking find to a restaurant seeking contemporary status. But in terms of flavors, it was hard to bash. In every slice were the joys of the stringy cheese crossed with the excitement of the kimchee.
With our main’s, XL chose the bulgolgi stew. We had it at the border of North Korea and she orders this at almost every Korean place she steps into. Her comments were positive on this one. It was generous, tasty and really hearty when you are starving. But was it the best she had? She digress and said it could be less sweet. It was for me a little on the sweet side too.
My main was a noodle dish served in a rich prawn bisque. A clever mixture of green and yellow noodles with various textures from the deep fried battered root vegetables and shaved salad. It had good flavor but the intensity of the prawns made the end of the plate an impossible journey. For me, I tend to like my dishes served hot or cold. In this one though, the shaved salad was cold bringing the whole dish to room temperature. In my opinion it felt neither here nor there but that was just a matter of preference over the chef’s intension.
As for the dessert, I stuck to my favourite Hott-teok and Gaya’s signature dessert, the Red Misu. Needless to say, after a 2 week long street food journey in Seoul last year, nothing was more nostalgic than these little pancakes filled with piping hot cinnamon syrup. I loved every bit of it. In fact, Leo decided to put more sugar in mine this time. It was yums! Perhaps a little burnt but still every bit delicious.
With the Red Misu, see my previous post on it here WenY Wonder’s Why: The Gaya @ Applecross.My verdict? Like mentioned before, the food the Gaya prepares is Korean with a modern twist. Improvement and changes are definitely a possibility; but in the capable hands of Leo it is not too far away. Tonight’s dinner was a bit of a hit and a miss. But like with all experiments, there are good and bad outcomes. Nonetheless, it is these experiments that keeps us foodie tongues surprised and keen to try.