Photographer Dylan Walker ventures to NagaWorld’s Korean Grill Restaurant to discover the falvours of South Korea.
Consider the unique characteristics of South Korean cuisine and the national treasure kimchi is bound to come to mind. Used in everything from stews to side dishes, the fermented vegetable mix is a sour delight that adds kick to every meal it touches.
The flavours contained in the world-famous condiment are echoed throughout the Asian cuisine, which is well-represented in Cambodia thanks to a burgeoning expat community and a plethora of Korean restaurants.
NagaWorld’s Korean Grill, which provides an excellent view of the colourful chandeliers in the hotel’s main lobby, is just one such eatery. The restaurant employs 12 chefs trained in the cuisine.
“The flavour for Korean food is sweet and sour. It has a strong taste and many Korean dishes include a lot of items,” explains sous chef Say Vibol.
Traditional dishes are a good option for those tasting Korean food for the first time, and perhaps bibimbap — derived from the Korean word for “mixed rice” — is the best place to start.
The dish consists of five vegetables served in a large bowl with ground beef and red pepper sauce. Diners use chopsticks and a spoon to combine the ingredients together, creating a sticky rice concoction that can be served either hot or cold. Mix in some kimchi or sip on a bowl of seaweed soup to cut through its egg-laden richness.
The seafood broth, haemul doengang jjigae, is also a delight. Thanks to a rich bean paste base and piles of prawns, squid and mussels, the steaming soup has a satisfying depth of flavour that recalls French cuisine. A strong chilli kick, however, swiftly brings it back into the realms of Korea and would prove a good winter warmer on a cold day in Seoul.
For those who want to sample a range of food, NagaWorld’s buffet features a large selection of dishes. The seafood station comes complete with giant oysters that are intended to conjure up images of Korea’s Jeju island, found to the southwest of the main peninsula.
A variety of barbecued meats, including beef and pork, are served sliced thin. Though well cooked, a dose of red pepper or bean paste sauce is essential to give them a Korean flavour.
The cold noodle station is perhaps the surprise draw. Thin wheat noodles are placed in a light broth with chilli paste for a satisfyingly gloopy dish that could be a welcome test for Western palates.