Lovers of Korean food had a field day at the JW Marriot Hong Kong recently when guest chef Kang Dong Jin came into town from Seoul. With more than two decades of experience under his apron, he gave Hong Kongers a taste of his authentic home-style cooking. Rather than take the modern or fusion route, Chef Kang stuck to the cuisine’s rustic roots by offering traditional fare such as Andong-style chicken and hearty meat-and-veg stew. The colorful buffet put on by the hotel also featured perennial favorites like spicy pork belly and vegetable glass noodles.
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No Korean meal can begin without an array of banchan – traditional side dishes. Needless to say, Chef Kang’s generous selection did not disappoint. Our plates were quickly dotted with servings of three popular varieties of kimchi: cabbage, cucumber and radish. We also helped ourselves to the large earthen platters of crispy fried dried anchovies sprinkled with sesame seeds and dry shredded squid.
Next we hit up the live cooking station for the piece de resistance: grilled marinated beef ribs. The juicy meat was hand-wrapped in a soft perilla leaf. A tastier alternative to lettuce, this leaf –often referred to as sesame leaf – had a minty flavor which underscored the sweetness of the ribs. The delicious parcel was then filled with raw garlic, green capsicum and gochujang (a traditional red pepper sauce).
Another local treat was the Korean beef patties. Chef Kang marinated fresh minced rib meat in a sweet plum and soy sauce and presented it back on the bone. The lunch was served with sujeonggwa, which is a refreshing ginger and cinnamon punch.
Chef Kang showcased the kaleidoscope of textures and tastes that Korean food is famous for. From sweet to sour and spicy, his dishes were rich in flavor yet unpretentious. It was well suited to the modest décor of The Lounge, located on the lobby level of the hotel – the focal point of which is the high floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of Victoria Harbour. We saved the accompanying salad bar, noodle station and western dessert table that are regular fixtures at The Lounge for next time, as there was literally no room in our stomachs after our satisfying takedown of the Korean buffet.