Ranked Number 89 in the world, with 1 Michelin star, Mingles located at Gangnam’s Cheongdam-dong district is known for its modern, inventive Asian cuisine.
It is also positioned Number 15 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 – the highest listed restaurant from South Korea.
The name “Mingles” suggest that it is ‘mingling’ with European, Japanese styles of cooking in Korean cuisine.
Its tagline goes, “Mingling contrasting elements into harmony”.
While the restaurant is at its core inspired by traditional Korean cuisine, it is constantly exploring different techniques and styles in the ever changing contemporary menu.
According to World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Chef Mingoo Kang is trained under Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, and has previous stints at Nobu in Miami which influenced his style of cooking.
He was the youngest Executive Chef de Cuisine in the Nobu chain during 2011.
The restaurant’s menu also changes constantly every few weeks, with the seasonality of the produce available. Hence, dining here is always a unique experience.
Upon entering the restaurant, I realised that the ambience was also more relaxed than a typical fine dining establishment – upbeat, warm and young without that stifling vibes.
The restaurant offers set menus for lunch and dinner with lunch menus going for 58,000 Won (SGD$69, USD$50.60) or 85,000 Won (SGD$101.40, USD$74.20) with 10% tax included, and dinner menus going for 138,000 Won (SGD$164.60, USD$120.50).
Lunch is considered reasonable in price, when compared to other Michelin starred restaurants in other parts of the world.
I had a 7-course menu (85,000 Won) which included an Amuse Bouche, Beef Tartare, Root or Lobster, Jeju Island (Shrimp from Jeju Island), Conger Eel, a Main (Lamb, Bansang, Duck, or Korean Be), Dessert (Sweet Potato, Jang Trio, or Doraji) and Tea, Fritz & Sweet.
The Amuse Bouche was already impressive – Mingle’s signature Egg Custard with Sancho Pepper.
Some other fine dining restaurants (Jean Georges, L’Arpège) also boosts of famous egg dishes, and Mingles’ version well deserves its recognition.
A simple looking egg shell, but with surprise after surprise hidden within.
First, you get hints of chorizo and Sancho pepper at the top, followed by silky soft boiled egg yolk surrounded by egg white foam, and cauliflower bits at the bottom.
The blend of textures and flavours were exciting enough to behold.
The Conger Eel was deliciously light-fluffy-crispy on the outside, yet tender on the inside. I was recommended to eat it together with both the local green herb and rice vinegar sauce, which would give you both sweet and earthy flavours.
I was glad to have ordered the Bansang, which had a Korean traditional table presentation of seasonal Banchan (side dishes).
Almost every dish, from the root vegetables, Korean crackers with squid, cucumber kimchi, pickles and sweet potatoes, were intricately prepared with subtle flavours –compared to the usual rich, robust Korean banchan I was used to.
It allowed me to experience Korean cuisine from a different perspective.
The current menu is the summer menu and some items available include the Beef Tartare, Mingles style Seasonal Fish, Summer Veg & Prawn, and Charred Lamb with Sides.
Throughout the meal, you would get little surprises such as a palate cleansers and drinks, which were well-put together.
Compared to the other Michelin-starred restaurants I been to (Gaon, La Yeon, Kwon Sook Soo,
Jungsik), Mingles comes across as more inventive (probably on par with Jungsik, though Jungsik has prettier presentations) yet subtle in taste.
I wonder if diners may come expecting more ‘Korean-ness’, more oomph?
Reservations are required some time in advance to secure a good date as the restaurant is popular both amongst locals and tourists.
You can reserve online. However, do note that foreigners and parties larger than 4 would require to pay a USD$100 deposit via PayPal to secure that reservation.
757 Seolleung-ro, Nonhyeon 2(i)-dong, Gangnam-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea (a short walk from Gangnam gu office station)
Tel: +82 2 515 7306
Opening Hours: Lunch 12pm – 3pm (Mon – Sat)
Dinner 6pm – 10.30pm (Mon – Fri), 6pm – 10pm Sat (Closed Sun)
Google Maps – Mingles