[Seoul] Foodies are exploring more of Seoul’s fine dining scene, which is gathering more awareness and momentum during the recent years. Some of the stand-out restaurants include Jungsik, Ryunique and
Well, I won’t say that Toc Toc is exactly fine dining, as it is a contemporary casual French-Asian bistro.
However, its food was indeed quite spectacular, and could match up to several higher end restaurants.
Toc Toc ranks 42 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018, described as French, Japanese and Korean in effortless symmetry.
Eater.com recognised it as one of The 38 Essential Seoul Restaurants in 2017.
More importantly, it earned the title “Miele One To Watch 2017” in Asia, awarded to the best rising star in the Asian dining scene. Because of this recognition, a table at Toc Toc is rated one of the hottest reservations in Seoul.
Even Michelin has noticed and has included Toc Toc in the Seoul Michelin Guide 2019. I think it is only a matter of time before it gets a star.
Found hidden in the side streets of Apgujeong – the upmarket area of Seoul, the name of the restaurant is derived from the French for “knock knock”.
It is helmed by South Korea-born chef-owner Kim Dae Chun, who first moved to Seoul to pursue a career as a professional drummer.
Little did he know at 23 he’d fall in love with Japanese ramen during a holiday in Japan. He then went to Tokyo’s Cooking Academy, studied for 5 years, and worked under chef Naoto Kishimoto at L’Embellir.
He likewise enjoyed stints at elite restaurants in New York, like Per Se, Jean Georges, Eleven Madison Park, and Le Bardardin. In Tokyo, he worked at Edition and Ryuzu, and in Seoul, Bono Bono.
Fascinated and inspired by seafood, he opened Toc Toc in 2013, pioneering French-Asian cuisine while reintroducing forgotten Korean ingredients like certain varieties of fish species, seaweed and wild greens.
He married refined techniques from around the world and local ingredients to create the menu of Toc Toc.
The result: classic meets eclectic.
You may have a bit of trouble finding Toc Toc as it is at the 3rd level of Rodeo Building. Once you locate the building, look for an alley where you will see a stairwell.
You can also take the elevator, but that was slow and small.
There are 2 tasting menus: The Signatures (a collection of the chef’s signature dishes) and Tocnomy (a showcase of his travel-inspired culinary creations).
The lunch set is not that expensive, priced at 45,000 Won (SGD54.82 SGD) while dinner set is 100,000 Won (SGD121.80).
The only thing is, reservations was not that straight forward for tourists, and I was uncomfortable with sharing credit card details over email.
The lunch course consists of a welcome dish, a bowl, appetiser, main and dessert. Top-ups are required for some of Toc Toc’s signature dishes such as the Black Truffle Pasta with Egg Yolk and Pecorino Cheese, Beef Carpaccio and Loin Steak.
The Octopus Carpaccio is a perfect example combining Italian and French.
The Octopus is slow cooked for 12 hours until super tender, and served with a tapenade of olives and capers pureed in olive oil.
The addition of cauliflower cous cous, cucumbers, radish and edible flowers make this such a pretty and delicious dish.
Speaking of seafood, don’t miss his raw fish courses, like sushi with a Korean laver twist or his own yellow tail ceviche.
Or try his selection of bowl dishes from his version of Chinese classic Buddha Jumps Over The Wall to Butternut Squash Veloute. You’ll never know what ingredients (European or Korean or both?) he’d use next.
Another signature dish, the Black Truffle Pasta with Egg Yolk and Pecorino Cheese, may look unassuming but actually screams indulgence.
The thick pasta is handmade, cooked al dente, and coated with black truffle.
The earthy flavour of truffle mingles with the dense and creamy egg yolk and pecorino cheese duo, creating an orgasmic explosion of taste and texture in your tongue.
Okay, the only dish which I thought was less memorable was perhaps the Truffle Dumplings.
The dumplings apply Asian technique to a European ingredient -truffle- a relatively unknown food in Korea, and served with apple-onion jam.
Chef Kim Dae-chun even imports this prized item from France to create his crispy fried dumplings, an instant hit in the local market.
I just thought that there are better and juicier dumplings out there, and this was not one of them.
While not overtly avant-garde, Toc Toc mixes influences and ingredients from Europe and Asia, incorporating rare ingredients in Hansik cooking into the dining experience.
Worth every bit of the money.
Toc Toc 톡톡
3F, Rodeo Bldg, 33, Dosan-daero 51-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Rep. of Korea
서울시 강남구 도산대로 51길 33, 3층.
Tel: +82 2 542 3030
Opening Hours: Lunch 12:00pm – 3:00pm Last order 2:00pm;
Dinner 5:30pm – 10:00pm Last order 9:00pm;
Sunday Dinner 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Google Maps – Toc Toc