Three friends and the food they love



Mingles. Seoul.

Do not trust ‘world best’ lists. Turn up your nose at the thought of fusion. Or just say that fine dining means lots of frou frou, very little substance for a big fat bill. But if you went to Mingles, one of the world’s best restaurants, ‘mingling’ traditional Korean food with European techniques in undeniably fine dining setting, you will be forced to revisit your notions.

The menu changes every few weeks, every course is a surprise and every bite a delight. As someone who spends a fair bit of time in Seoul, it is delightful to see the boldness in thought and practise that is sweeping the Korean restaurant scene. Chef Mingoo Kang has boldly established himself at the forefront of New Korean cuisine. The European cuts of meat, presentation styles are unmistakeable. The use of fermented Korean sauces, vinegars, seasonal produce, weeds and herbs plants this restaurant firmly as true to its roots.

Mingles4Fine dining for me must belong to it’s physical surroundings. In what is served, in how it delights. Mingles checks all the boxes of an outstanding meal, and unchecks some notions.




Whisper whisky

Apparently cocktails and mixologists are all the rage. Speakeasies have had a revival for so long that it can be called strictly mid life by now. As is the single malt. Airports seem to stock an ever increasing variety of impossible-to-pronounce Scottish distilleries. And the run on Japanese malts, or the populace who has declared Taiwan as the new Japan. All of these trends come home in one classy, trendy, cool bar in downtown Seoul. Language barriers are not a problem, all the bartenders speak in one tongue – that of knowing how to mix a good drink. Going off piste is not an exception, it is the norm. You have to try a little hard to find it. You cannot reserve a seat. You knock, and they let you in if they have space. But once you’re in, welcome to the world of drinks that delight, a relaxed vibe and crackers that you cannot stop eating.

As is my practise at all bars, I order an Old-Fashioned with rye whisky, less sugar. There are very few bars where bartenders do not bat an eyelid at the request and deliver an Old- Fashioned so perfectly balanced in taste, strength and colour. In my Old-Fashioned index, there is no bar that has touched the heights at this bar. All my friends who have been there rave about it. It features regularly as one of the worlds best bars. The only thing not discrete inside the bar – signs forbidding patrons from whipping out their phones to take pictures of the beautiful drinks.

The name?  Speakeasy Mortar. 

Try finding it. The rewards are many.

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