In Seoul, for every 5-10 Korean restaurants there seems to be a Chinese restaurant as well. Much like Chinese restaurants all over the world, even in Korea they have been adapted to local tastes. Rak'n Wok takes this transformation one step further and adds a Western twist to the Chinese/Korean cuisine. On the menu you will recognize things from a purely Chinese menu, American-Chinese food and finally Korean-Chinese dishes. Honestly, all of this is all fine and dandy as long as the taste - the main attribute under the microscope of my visit - is delicious.
And taste is something Rak'n Wok has in bundles. But before we got to dismember the different dishes and their flavors, we were greated by a marvelous couple who soon turned out to be the owner of the restaurant. They told us that being a franchise restaurant, their options to diverge from the path decided by the headquarters are limited in some areas. Still, they have worked hard to find the best distributors of ingredients to put this particular restaurant on the food-lovers’ map.
The restaurant, located in the office-filled Yangjae area, has been open to customers just short of a whole year. The local neighborhood is still pretty traditional for being south of the Hangang with seollongtang and jjigae-places spread here and there. The owner, Mrs. Yuseon, together with her husband wanted to modernize the area a little bit and predict that it will develop into somewhere like Garosugil and become hipper and popular by the year.
The choice of restaurant fell on Chinese fusion after the couple had spent years on the road on business trips on other work. The foreign food on the business trips were always delicious at a start, but after a few days they would long for Asian food and then Chinese food always proved versatile with flavors to satiate any type of food pallette.
Our roller-coaster through the landscape of tastes of China started off with a Crab Meat Basket appetizer to transition to Sweet-and-Sour Pork, Garlic Fried Chicken and Beef & Broccoli. The sitting was concluded with XO Crab Meat fried rice and Black Bean noodles. The Crab Meat Basket is apparently one of the most popular dishes on the menu. A large serving of crab meat and egg, cradled into a deep-fried shell, you start wishing this was the main dish and not just an appetizer. Not only are the vegetables evidently fresh, the crab tastes strong enough to become the king of this dish and not trumped by the egg.
For the Sweet-and-Sour Pork it soon becomes apparent that the ingredients were not just poured all together into the sauce. Tasting the pineapple, you can feel that it has been grilled slightly before diving into the sauce. This careful preparation of every single ingredient separates Rak'n Wok’s Sweet-and-Sour Pork from other establishments. Next up, the Garlic Fried Chicken adds a piquant flavor to the meal and the garlic never becomes overwhelming, as so often happens in Korea.
The Beef & Broccoli stands well on its own, but together with the flower-shaped bread, it really elevates to another level. The beef is succulent and the broccoli has retained its crispiness and not been overcooked. Dipping the bread in the sauce would have been the perfect finale of the meal. But let us not forget the XO Crab Meat fried rice and Black Bean noodles! The Black Bean noodles are a tad sweeter than other restaurants to set Rak'n Wok apart. And just like the appetizer, Rak'n Wok seems to do everything right when it comes to crab!
All in all, Rak'n Wok does most things right. Delicious food, minimalistic interior that does not scream China like some other tacky restaurants in Seoul. Be sure to check it out at:
Address: 서울특별시 서초구 서운로6길 22 (Yangjae stn. Line 3, Exit 1)
Weekdays: 11:30 – 15:00 and 17:30 – 22:00 (Breaktime: 15:00 – 17:30)
Weekends: 11:30 – 22:00
Best dish: Crab Meat Salad and Sweet-and-Sour Pork