Meta

Dinner – Friday, November 25, 2022

This was a meal that nearly didn’t happen – I’d originally planned a lunch at Bjorn Frantzen’s Zen for this day, but made an 11th hour substitution due to the length of the experience at Zen and the conflicting need to accommodate other activities. I am so glad though, because my lunch at Meta turned out to be the best meal of a 2-week trip.

Otoro, perilla, ikura
This “tuna sandwich” was a very compelling opener – the fatty belly meat was tossed with sesame oil for even more richness, which was exquisitely balanced by the peppery shiso and seaweed. An exciting bite.

“Gimbap”
Wagyu tartare, nashi pear, cuttlefish, pine nuts

The meat was dressed with beef fat, but again the heavy elements were tempered, in this case by the pear and some daikon. The fried seaweed wrapper and pine nuts added different crunchy textures – overall, a very sophisticated take on the humble gimbap.

“Twigim” (deep-fried snack)
Perilla leaf, kataifi

A yin-yang stuffing of squid and ink, and prawn and lobster farce filled the kataifi pastry. I was instructed to use the spicy dipping sauce, but honestly found it better without – easier to appreciate the clean flavours of the twigim itself.

“Gyeran jjim” (steamed egg)
Spanner crab, gingko nut, kani miso, kinome

“Domi” (red sea bream)
Botan ebi, mizuna, namul, caviar, perilla oil

“Gwanja” (scallop)
Kamtae, lily bulb, yuja

This was my course of the day. In all honesty, the pan-seared Hokkaido scallop was actually slightly overcooked, but this tiny misstep did not diminish the splendid soup of kamtae (seaweed) and lily bulbs – it had the most alluring gelatinous texture. The yuja (yuzu) was a perfect foil for the earthy tones. A 3* dish.

“Min-eo” (croaker fish)
Leeks, daikon, shiitake and chili broth

I was not terribly impressed by this dish, but instead let me mention the supplemental course of bibimmyeon that came after (and which I forgot to photograph – it’s been a while since I’ve done this!). The noodles were lovely – chilled and chewy, with mild spiciness and a good dose of acidity. It was served with sea whelk and some generous slices of fantastic shima-aji – well worth getting.

“Mechuri” (quail)
Foie gras, parsnip, black truffle, banchan

A close second to the scallop, the final savory dish was a roulade of Anjou quail stuffed with foie gras. It was served with gangdoengjang, caramelized parsnip puree, and a few different banchan – of which the rice with burdock root was of particular excellence. Very hearty, and a brilliant display of Korean-French fusion (is that still a dirty word?)

Confit beetroot
Beetroot and omija sorbet, perilla, meringue

“Heugimja” (black sesame)
Black glutinous rice, ginseng, jujube

Another masterful showcase of textures, from the delicate dark chocolate tuile, to the sticky rice, to the airy black sesame ice cream. I also commend their use of ginseng, which can be overwhelming, but was very nicely done in the form of a cream here.

Gangjeong (rice cracker), banana cream puff, genmaicha nama

Although Chef Sun Kim was not present for lunch service, execution was generally very high (except for the slight overcook on the scallop as well as the croaker). Service was also well-informed and excellent. As of this writing, Meta has 1* from the Michelin Guide, and has successfully cracked the Asia’s 50 Best list. I’m confident this is just the beginning though, as this appears to be a hugely talented crew. I’ll be keeping both eyes on this one.

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