Thursday, 22 August 2013

Ginseng restaurant review

Today was my last chance to spend time with my friend Susie, who has returned to Sheffield from Madrid for the summer. Having taken her to the bubble tea place, "lol" (that's the name of the place) which is in west one, we noticed Ginseng and having heard good things about it, I suggested we come and eat here.
When we first arrived the waiter told us to wait for 20 minutes because they were busy so we told him to hold our table and went for some cocktails at the Great Gatsby. She had a pina colada and I had something with pineapple, coconut and banana which I've forgotten the name of but was very tasty and only £4!

Cocktails at the Great Gatsby
After enjoying our cocktails we strolled back along division street and entered the restaurant again.
It is a very asthetically pleasing establishment, with wall hangings and black marble style tables with their in-built barbeque grill, plus your standard east asian fish tank and a small bar.
We peruse the menu with its large coloured photographs and I feel genuinely excited. Korean food is totally new to me, I'm kind of expecting it to be similar to the food I had in China but really, not knowing what it's going to be like is making me look forward to eating it even more than with any other restaurant.

Beautiful crockery
Our waitress helps us out and thanks to her recommendation we order a rice, seafood, vegetable and egg bowl to share then each have a soup dish. I also order kimchi as I'm a fan of its spicy sour goodness.
We are the only "western" people eating here which is usually a good sign. It's mostly students too, I guess west one tends to attract these types because they're either too scared to venture away from town or crookes and find other places to eat, or maybe that this is a cool area to hang out.
A couple of dishes arrive and we are told they are our free sides. One is a slippery sweet cabbage and one is grated carrot with something else I'm not sure about, maybe daikon but I don't know.
One thing that strikes me is that this is going to be a hard review to write because a lot of the tastes are new to me and describing them would be challenging.

Kimchi and free side dishes
I'm not a fan of these metal chopsticks though, the appeal of chopsticks for me is their organic nature, that's why they are second preferable eating utensil, after my hands. The wooden ones that is..
Anyway the food arrived and it looked exactly as shown in the pictures, my casserole had half a chicken and the kimchi was that napa cabbage, left in whole leaves. Different to how I've had before but still delicious. The waitress asked if we wanted her to mix our egg rice dish but I said no it's ok. I waited 'til she left before taking a picture as I thought it would be more photogenic that way.

Chicken and date casserole
I struggled slightly with the chicken. I've eaten chicken legs with chopsticks before but this was in a red hot clay bowl of soup and any sudden movements could lead to pain for me so I carefully eased the meat off the leg with my spoon. I found a lump of rice shaped like the leg kind of inside the leg which was an interesting surprise. The whole dish is very light in flavour with a comforting sweetness from the dates. It feels good for me, like something an old Chinese person would cook for me if I was ill. The whole ginseng root floating around in there added to this little fantasy.
That egg and rice dish is really tasty. It came with a red sauce which wasn't as hot as expected.
Everything is light and not greasy at all.

Egg dish
The drinks we ordered: cinnamon punch for me and grape punch for Susie are really different to any I've had before. Mine reminded me of those atomic fireball sweets I used to go crazy for when I was younger and eventually led to my 10 year hatred of anything containing cinnamon. I love cinnamon now though and this was refreshing with a floral after taste. The grape one had  pulp of jellified grape inside and tastes like american grape flavoured things do.

Cinnamon punch
Eventually we ask for the bill and it's £35 for two which is pretty good, especially for town.
I'll definitely visit again. It's great to have somewhere to add to my lift of places to eat in the city centre too. Anyone else been?

Food  - 7.5/10
Service - 8/10
Value -  7/10

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