If you’ve ever been to Singapore, you’re probably familiar with the merlion, a half-lion, half-fish creature that represents the small but mighty city-state. You’re probably also familiar with the panoply of tasty rice, bean and tropical fruit-based Singaporean desserts that are nearly impossible to find in Seoul—until this past month, that is. With the opening of Merlion in Hongdae, we can now indulge in sweet bean curd, black rice porridge, honey mango pudding, and (of course) kaya toast. What sets Merlion apart from the crowd even by Singaporean standards is the attention to detail that goes into every single dish: The bean curd is a delightfully mild and palate-cleansing treat made from soybeans they steam and grind themselves and sweetened with stevia leaves. While most kaya toast joints use jarred kaya jam, Merlion makes theirs by hand in the kitchen, using pandan leaves they grow by the window. And the sesame rice balls? Those are so delicate and labor intensive, you can currently only find them on the weekends.
The owners, Ken from Singapore and Jude, a Korean who has spent much time in Singapore, import their main ingredients directly from the Lion Cityto replicate authentic flavors as closely as possible. What sets these desserts apart from other cuisines in the region? “Singaporean flavors are very strong,” warns Ken. “The coffee is strong, the milk tea is strong, and we like to use a lot more coconut in everything.”
|Transport:||Hongik Univ. Station (Line 2), exit 8|