OK2 Kitchen is Seoul’s attempt at European style haute cuisine. If compared to establishments in the United States serving the same type of food, OK2 Kitchen would probably fall a little short, but in a sea of Korean and mediocre Western restaurants it lives up the hype given to it by various bloggers in Korea.
Located in an old hanok, or Korean traditional house, down an alley off the main drag in Itaewon, OK2 Kitchen has an old mixed with new vibe. The dining area is cozy, yet modern and the smallness of the room gives it an intimate feel. While OK2 Kitchen is probably best known for its’ bang for your buck lunch set, I headed there after work to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
We started our meal by sharing two appetizers. The first was a homemade polenta cake topped with a poached egg, mushrooms, arugula and shaved parmigiano reggiano. Polenta is one of my favorite dishes and because of this I hold any that I eat to an extremely high standards. That said, I found this whole dish to be slightly under seasoned. I liked the concept and, overall, I enjoyed what I ate but there were for improvements. The second appetizer was a duck confit. The duck was slightly dry but I found this dish to be the better of the two.
For the main course we split three entrees: homemade ravioli with a goat cheese filling, pici with a lamb ragu, and pork belly confit with mint mashed potatoes. The first was the most disappointing of the three. The ravioli themselves were nicely made but the filling was lacking that punch you expect from goat cheese. The second pasta selection was much better, one of my favorite parts of the meal. Pici is a long pasta, almost like a fatter spaghetti, that originates from Tuscany. This pici was cooked perfectly and the thickness of the noodles allowed for a wonderful sauce to pasta ratio in every bite. The ragu itself was seasoned nicely and the large chunks of lamb were extremely tender. It is hard to find pasta dishes that are even passable in Seoul, and this dish far exceeds passable. The final dish, a pork belly confit, was the standout of the night. The crispy outside was a nice contrast to the delicate, fatty inside, which was prepared so flawlessly that it melted in your mouth. I was somewhat wary of the mint mashed potatoes when ordering but the mint flavor was not overpowering and a nice compliment to the saltiness of the pork belly.
The final course, dessert, did not disappoint. The first dessert was a caramel ice cream sundae. Nothing out of the ordinary here, but a solid take at a classic. The second dessert left me thinking about it all night. The butterscotch and caramel pudding was light and creamy and the sea salt at the bottom helped leverage some of the sweetness. It was delightful way to end a mostly wonderful meal.
OK2 Kitchen is definitely worth a visit! I know I will be back sometime soon to check out the lunch set.
Location: Itaewon Station (Line 6) Exit 1