One of the things I love about the Aberdeen hotel scene is how much it tries to diversify.
There is West African, Chinese, Bangladeshi, Sicilian, French, Eastern European and Thai. You can also add Japanese and Korean to this list, with the city’s latest addition bolstering this already growing cuisine.
Seoul Aberdeen is a Japanese and Korean steakhouse. Located on Crown Street, it is just a minute’s walk from Union Street in the city centre.
Granted, this was my second visit of the week after being so impressed with the food. My first visit saw my foodie friend and I really enjoy the grill, and when I took my sister I made sure to order some different things, as well as some of Megan and I’s favorites from the first trip.
The first thing you’ll notice as you walk through the door is the decor. There are hanging lanterns and tapestries, a mix of banquettes and tables, and lots of color.
It’s not too obvious that the restaurant is split in two, but if you want to enjoy the Korean grill, be sure to sit on the right side as that’s where you’ll find the tables with the grilling stations.
I was keen to flirt with the Japanese and Korean menus, so I told my sister to take one of the tables on the right when she arrived first.
Its skylight near the back of the restaurant makes the space bright and the left hand of the restaurant is adorned with Japanese backdrops with some fake flowers hanging for decoration as well.
I visited both times around 6pm on a Monday evening and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the place filled up. Haven’t seen a restaurant of this size in Aberdeen this busy at dinner time for a long time.
Having already tried a few dishes, I let my sister try to take the lead. Totally overwhelmed by two different menus, both of which have pages to choose from, I stepped in to guide her.
Although I’ve never visited Korea or Japan, I’ve eaten a lot of food from chefs who grew up or spent much of their career working there.
The team looking after us were eager to get our order, so after being asked a few times, we finally committed.
The first item to grace our table shortly after ordering was the dumplings (Goon-Mandu). I had tried the chicken ones first which were delicious so I opted for the vegetarian version. The filling was a little thicker and didn’t have as much flavor as the chicken, but the dumpling itself (£5.95) was soft and held the filling well. A small portion of the plate contained soy sauce which the eight of us dipped into with our metal chopsticks.
Next are the bulgogi beef strips (£12.50) and the sweet and spicy chicken (£8.50).
The grill part was where all the fun was. A member of staff lit it for us, laid parchment paper and sprayed oil on top. It wasn’t long before the oil started to sizzle, so we knew it was time to put the meat down.
I did this first, showing my sister my new grilling skills that I had learned the last time I was here when the staff gave me a tutorial. I grabbed some minced garlic and peppers it was served with and put them on the fire next to the beef. She followed my lead, using the scissors we were given to cut the pieces to size. A spicy chilli dip, sesame oil and other condiments were served alongside to dip your meat. Bulgogi is a well-known Korean dish and takes minutes to cook.
The last time I had the chicken it had been smothered in a tangy sweet sauce. This time it was served on the side, with the sauce on the side. The fried chicken thigh meat was nice and crispy and it was a good portion for the money. My sister said the sauce reminded her of a mix between barbecue and tomato ketchup, but it was very fruity and more like gochujang in my opinion.
Tempura prawns (£9.90), Tokyo roll (£8.90) and kimchi (£2.50) arrived back-to-back. The prawns were a sight. A fan-shaped piece of raw noodles for decoration hid the fried shrimp. They were big and still had their tails on, and were served with ginger and soy dip.
The kimchi was much sharper this time and much crunchier. It was sour with a sour vinegary flavor and while the milder chili notes sweetened the dish, it just wasn’t as good as the first time I had it – the last time it was. one of my favourites.
As for the Tokyo roll, it was very nice and I loved the Japanese mayonnaise that came drizzled on top. The rice was perfectly cooked and well bonded. Inside there was fried chicken and avocado which meant there was a lot of texture which made it interesting to eat, and the orange tobiko came out on top. It looked shiny and there were eight pieces.
The nigri set with salmon sashimi sushi (£14.50) was the last, although we were still going through the feast when it arrived. Loads of different seafood like shrimp, salmon, tuna, octopus and more, with three pieces of salmon sashimi. The wasabi and ginger were served alongside the dish and the sushi was one of our favorites as we both loved it.
A small bowl of miso soup came with the set but was served to us with the dumplings. It contained tiny cubes of tofu, chopped spring onions, and the dashi soup was flavored with miso paste. My only bug was that it was not warm, more tepid.
The food in general here was really good, although I was disappointed with the tempura at the end when I realized halfway through my second shrimp bite that they hadn’t been cleaned. It’s a way to end a meal. However, we asked to take home the leftover sushi which we didn’t finish as it was so good.
Seoul Aberdeen offers a wide selection of dishes ranging from sushi, grilled skewers, tempura, bone marrow noodle soup, ramen and more.
The food is of high quality and I was really impressed with the freshness of the fish.
The website and menu also have the option to order in Chinese, which I thought was a good idea, and I think it’s a positive addition to Aberdeen’s food scene.
Although there were times when we felt rushed by the staff, we navigated through this and left feeling full, even though the prawn situation wasn’t ideal.
Address: Seoul Aberdeen, 13 Crown Street, Aberdeen AB11 6HA
P: 01224 596537
Price: £65.60 for seven courses and a soft drink
- Food: 4/5
- Performance: 4/5
- Surroundings: 4/5
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[Korean and Japanese food at Seoul Aberdeen]