Seoul, South Korea
Why it’s worth a visit: Since its opening in April 2014 in Seoul’s buzzy Cheongdam-dong district, Mingles has been wowing local and international diners with its fusion of eastern and western cuisine. So much so, that the restaurant was the Highest New Entry to Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 and has now been voted The Best Restaurant in Korea for the fifth consecutive year.
Who’s behind the pass? Young Korean chef Mingoo Kang trained under Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, Spain, and later enjoyed stints at Nobu in Miami and the Bahamas, where he took learnings that he would later apply to Korean food once back on home soil.
Key ingredients: The seasonally changing menu is divided into sections like ‘grains,’ ‘vegetable’ and ‘fish,’ with jang and cho – Korean traditional fermented sauce and vinegar – playing an integral part in the food. Main courses include bansang, a Korean meal with rice, soup, kimchi and ‘Jang’ sauce, and guests can enjoy the zucchini seon – a special dish first conceived as a vegan one-off when a famous monk visited the restaurant – with green pumpkin and zucchini cooked with anchovy broth and salted shrimp. The dish takes over two days of preparation.
The vibe: Mingles’ stripped-back basement dining room wouldn’t look out of place in London or New York with its blonde-wood furniture and smooth stone walls, and the casual atmosphere makes it the go-to restaurant for hip Seoulsters.
Bonus point: Kang was among the 1,500 runners who carried the Olympic torch 2,018km through Korea’s main cities and to the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics.