Kumgang was the very first Korean restaurant in Delhi. The new version – Kumgang Gonie – still is streets ahead of the competition. There are two reasons for this. The first is that Mi Ran Lee, the owner, has been present at her restaurant during every single hour of operations. The second is that she has a strong desire to showcase the culture of her country.
Kumgang Gonie has been extensively remodeled to resemble the earth, with water, sky and land artistically represented by Korean art. However, it is the menu that has undergone the most change. All the favourites are still there: the pibimpab (Rs 850) – a stone bowl with rice, fresh vegetables, roasted meats of your choice, kochujang the quintessential Korean spice mix and a fried egg is still far classier than anything else in the city. Haemulpajong (egg pancakes with an array of accompaniments) and chapchae, the potato noodle dish that makes a great introduction to Korean food are still on the menu. What has changed is a dedicated chef for Korean style sushi – much the same as its Japanese counterpart and an extremely skilful menu that bridges the divide between what Koreans crave for – fine noodles in soup with an assortment of vegetables and meats – and entry-level dishes that comprise chicken fried rice, chicken fried in the Korean style etc.
Thus, whether you are a Korean wanting the tastes of home, a diner who is familiar with the protocol of eating bulgogi or a first-timer into a Korean restaurant, you will have something of your choice.
Jatjup Machim (Rs 1,000) is an artistically presented set of pancakes filled with julienned vegetables, accompanied by an east-meets-west salad of apples, bell peppers, prawns and chicken napped in a Korean mayonnaise made with pine nuts and cashew nuts. More western than oriental, it is a perfect introduction to this intriguing cuisine.
Every table has a discreet space should you want to order bulgogi, Korea’s answer to the barbecue. Partially cooked in the kitchen, a dish of superior imported tenderloin, chicken or vegetables comes to your table. The gas ring is lit, and in a couple of minutes, the bulgogi is ready to eat. You cook it for as long as you want. Then you make a morsel with lettuce leaves, a pod or two or raw garlic, a touch of kochujang and stuff the whole thing in your mouth in one go. Heaven!
Modeum Chobap (Rs 1,800) is a platter of assorted sushi and sashimi – over a dozen pieces – that have tender pea shoots and enoki mushrooms as accompaniments. Sashimi is only served from Friday to Sunday because the restaurant gets fresh seafood flown in from Korea on Fridays.
Ashok Hotel, 50 B Chanakyapuri
Average cost of a meal for two: Rs 3,000
Alcohol served; credit cards accepted
Open from 12 noon to 11.30 pm
Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch buffets