I want to describe CJ Foodworld in Seoul, Korea as a perfect definition of modern Korean culture. A manufactured perfection carefully designed to appear as accomplished as possible by a monumentally large organisation. The show piece of South Korea’s largest food conglomerate CJ Cheil Jedang, CJ Foodworld is a food court consisting of every one of CJ’s forays into the world of dining.

The plethora of choices extend from Loco Curry, Vips, Twosome+, Tofu House, China Factory (What a name), ColdRock Ice Creamery (CJ bought the American franchise into Korea) and Tous Les Jours, one of many bakery chains that are dotted through out Korea. In total, there are 17 choices in dining as well as a supermarket, flower garden and cooking school.

The design is what I grew to expect from walking around Korea. Clean lines, wooden paneling and soft lighting. It’s like everything everywhere in Korea was built last week by architecture fiends hell bent on being unobtrusive in their understated brilliance.

CJ Foodworld in Seoul also serves as a lunch stop for the employees of CJ as it’s located directly beneath their headquarters. I think that’s why it was so empty at 7pm at night.

Oh right, and free iMacs to use.

I just don’t know what to make of all this. CJ have managed to create a microcosmic food market outside of the ludicrously huge Lotte and Shinsegae chaebols and I kind of think that’s a good thing, even though they are insanely large conglomerate themselves. The product presented here is marketable anywhere in the world. A one stop shop to divulge in modern takes on classic food in a clean environment.

Okay, what did I eat? I figured I may as well do the Korean thing and had Bibimbap from Bibigo. It’s kind of a concept restaurant where you build your own Bibimbap from a Tapas menu. And look, it tasted good albeit lacking in real authenticity.

Look check it out if you’re in Seoul and tell me what you think. I’m curious to here peoples opinions on CJ Foodworld.

CJ Foodworld is located at:

Cheil Jedang Center Building.
292 Ssangnim-dong, Jung-Gu.
Seoul, South Korea.
+82 1577-9622

11/10/2012 Food, Shops

Designed by German Tobias Rehberger in 2010, Il Vento is one hell of a strange dining experience in Japan. Your expectation of Japanese dining is thrown into disarray by this lonely restaurant on an island that takes an hour to travel too by Ferry. When I went to Teshima was essentially deserted which made all this even stranger. The restaurant also goes by the title ‘Was du liebst, bringt dich auch zum weinen’… which if you don’t speak German, you’re gonna be screwed to pronounce. Il Vento was obviously an exotic and easier name to pronounce.

Il Vento is part restaurant, part art installation and part architectural brilliance. An aspect of it was part of a concentrated effort born from a industrial disaster in the area in the 80s to encourage encounters of beauty in the Seto Inland Sea. It’s worked. The islands in the sea are a mini Mecca for architecture and art fiends across the planet. Il Vento also serves as a focus for how to make the most out of renovations on vacant houses which is increasing in rural Japan due to depopulation.

It’s a renovated two-story home completely covered from floor to ceiling with stripes, polka dots and camouflage patterns. I couldn’t imagine how fucked you’d be walking around this place on acid because most of the time you’re not sure of your surroundings.

Oh right, it does have food, although it is typically Japanese small. The lunch set is ¥1000 and includes the entry charge for the building or you can enter without it for ¥300. For a restaurant that is one of a kind its totally worth it.

For an added bonus the staff of Il Vento are housed in a wonderfully renovated dormitory a short walk from the restaurant. See more details here

Il Vento is located at:

2309 Teshima-Ieura
Tonosho Shozu-Gun
Kagawa, Japan.
+81 8 7968 3177

10/27/2012 Food

Singapores cafe scene is a little bit of strange. It’s probably because it’s somewhat stifled by the constant drenching humidity so it’s hard to see the attraction of anything more than iced coffee when sitting down at any of Singapores growing western, or perhaps more true, Melbourne inspired cafes. Vincent Tangs cafe The Plain falls into that category seeing as though he lived in Melbourne and wanted to take that cafe culture back with him when he returned.

Inside possibly the most dissimulated shop fronts I’ve seen it serves all-day breakfast and delightfully simple lunch plates which reminded me of home more than any of Sydneys attempts. Is it worth mentioning that quintessential Australian items containing Vegemite or Pipsqueak cider are listed on the menu? Even though I was dying for a cold drink I felt overwhelming compelled to order a latte.

If you’re in need of a slice of home and in Singapore you’d have to come here, grab a magazine, sit at the communal table, order a coffee and shut out the concrete jungle around you.

The Plain is located at:

50 Craig Road, Tanjong Pagar
Singapore City, Singapore.
+65 6225 4387

10/21/2012 Food

I’m going to insist that Seddon’s Common Galaxia not be a one off in the emerging growth area of the Western Suburbs. Designed by Luke Mutton of Sunkland Project the fit out does a solid job of commanding more savoriness than the food itself. The architect states that he was inspired by the wooden cafe aesthetic of Japanese & Scandinavian architecture along with the futuristic integration of Bauhaus design. Let’s just say Walter Gropius would be pleased with the result.

Looking back at my meal there I seem to remember the design more than anything else. I just get all giddy when I see clean concrete, timber and straight lines.

And that’s not to say that the meal was forgettable. Far from it actually. The varied selection of baked eggs on their breakfast menu threw up different selections from R and I, with added bacon of course.

Coffee and Tea were good, as you’d expect from the owners of Dead Man Espresso. Coffee’s provided by Seven Seeds and Market Lane and brewed very confidently by the friendly Barista.

Common Galaxia is located at:

Shop 3/130 Victoria Street, Seddon.
Melbourne, Australia.
(03) 9689 0309

10/16/2012 Food