After a few minutes of walking around the lake, we headed to the restaurant called 소담정 (Pronounced as "Soh-Dahm Jung"), well known for Korean medicinal cuisine. Yak Sun (약선) or Food therapy is based on oriental medical theories to promote well being and prevention of diseases.
Most food was catered to suit one’s physical condition and many of the restaurant’s orders came from hospital patients craving for healthy meals.
When we first arrived there, we were served with a few plates of appetizers. To be honest, I expected a decent tummy filling meal because I did not have my breakfast yet. The appetizers all came in small portion for a table of four people.
After the appetizers, individual dishes were brought out to be served. The meatballs were good – not too sweet and they were so chewy (Rating 3.5/5), fried fish (It reminded me of home because the fish was perfectly cooked unlike in most places I had tried – 4.5/5), roasted duck (so-so, there are better places for it – 3/5)...
There was also the mushroom, dried orange with slices of garlic/bamboo shoot dish (OMG, my mouth! I hate raw garlic/bamboo shoot! I don’t eat them! 1.5/5) and common Korean side dishes (반찬) such as Kimchis, seaweed, etc.
The last individual dishes served for lunch were the beef slices with tteok or rice cake (Rating – 3/5), Korean jelly (2.5/5) and the rice wrapped in lotus leaf (Soft, smells good – 3.5/5)
Anyway, I am very strict with the rating so a low rating does not means the food is so bad. The most unique dish was the tteok that looked like dried persimmons (Rating of 3/5 for its uniqueness). Finally, we finished our lunch with a toast of Korean Ginseng tea (a 3.5/5!)
After lunch, we had the tea ceremony. We were taught how to bow in a Korean traditional way before the tea was served to everyone. It was quite interesting to know the complicating steps in preparing a cup of tea. It was not easy either for the tea presenter because everyone looked forward more to drinking tea than learning about the culture and manners.
I was more interested in learning about the types of teas, the most expensive tea, history of tea and the medicinal purposes of tea. The Korean tea history began in Year 828 when the Korean King asked his subjects to plant the tea around Sangye Temple and Haem Temple (Hopefully they are correct). Tea from Korea originated in China.
During the Shila Dynasty, two princes ordered 10,000 people to plant tea and to drink it. To cut the tale short, the rest as they say is history. Tea has 5 tastes. The bitter taste means it’s good for digestion and it has important role in making the “taste” of tea. Spicy flavor in tea is good for the lungs, sour taste means lots of Vitamin C and it is also good for the heart, salty is good for the spleen and the sweet taste of tea is for relaxation.
When preparing tea, the most important criterias are the warmth of the tea cups and water. Tea pots and cups must be warmed in advance before the tea leaves were added and when pouring the water, there must be a sound.
According to the tea presenter, ginger tea is good during cold weather and green tea is best selected as an ideal drink in hot weather. The restaurant provides tea drinking session and it is best to book beforehand to check the availability of tea session.