If you find yourself looking for that one splurge meal in Seoul, Korea, make it a meal at Mingles. On paper, it checks all the boxes on the status meal – it’s currently ranked the best restaurant in Korea for 2021, it’s ranked 10th on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and it was awarded 2 Michelin Stars. It deserves all those accolades, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is passing through the city. Korea has a lot of fine dining restaurants that do a fantastic job, but Mingles just does it with more finesse and creativity. Lunch is a great time to do it, since they offer a shorter and less expensive tasting option at 125,00 won–the current exchange rate is really in the US dollar’s favor, so this translates to $105, which is on a relative scale a pretty good deal for fine dining. Mingles is the best restaurant in Korea in 2021 so it makes so much sense to plan your meals in Seoul around it.
Mingles moved into a newer location in the Gangnam area. We all know about Gangnam style and all the fancy stores and people in the neighborhood, so Mingles fits in quite nicely. The lunch crowd was mostly a mix of well-to-do couples and families. The dining room has a very modern aesthetic to it, minimalist Scandinavian-like design combined with elegant Asian flourishes. It’s like you’re sitting in the dining room of Relae but with Asian place settings.
The meal was preceded by some small bites – a sashimi of Korean amber jack with soybean sauce, a “gangtae” or fried fish rolled in seaweed, corn soup with caviar and prawn shavings and a vegetable crepe with pumpkins and green beans with truffles on top. If you could capture the splendor of summertime in a cup, it would be in that bowl of corn soup.
The next course was the napa cabbage dumpling with beef and chiles. The dumplings were served in a soybean soup with potatoes on the bottom. I remember being really impressed by this dish and thinking that no broth I had ever tried tasted like this. It was like it was flavored with tofu and injeolmi powder. Really unique and stunning.
The red mullet fish was followed by the prettiest palate cleanser I had ever seen…two perfect little plums on top of cool ice.
I always look forward to a nice piece of meat, and the sirloin did not disappoint. The piece was small but sublime. I normally don’t like ddukkgeolbi but loved the one on my plate.
The savory portion of the meal was over by this point, but we were still hungry. The presentation is fantastic but the portions are small. You can supplement your meal with add-ons like fried shrimp, grilled skewers, noodles, caviar and truffles. We opted for the noodles, which were thin and delicate, keeping with the theme of elegant austerity.
I ordered the signature Jang Trio for dessert. The description sounds a bit strange, and at first you think you’re reading the ingredient list for some sort of Korean stew. I mean, do deonjang, soy sauce and red chili paste have any business being in a dessert? Yes, they do, and it somehow works, in the way that miso tahini chocolate chip cookies or maple bacon donuts work. The other option, a malt ice cream with sikhye granita, was also a cool seasonal treat, but the creativity of the Jang Trio is unmatched. The meal concluded with a selection of Korean inspired petit fours and tea service. On our way out, they handed us some creative parting gifts–packets of the soup broth used in our noodles. We never ended up using the packets, but the meal will always live on in our memories.
If you’re curious about the wine pairing, here is what they poured:
19, Dosan-daero 67-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea