Luxury Car Experience Meets Modern Korean Cuisine at Genesis

By Sophie Steiner, November 12, 2021

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The Place

As much as I wish this was a review of the global luxury automotive brand Genesis, they don’t pay me to test drive luxury vehicles around the streets of Shanghai. Yet. 

IMG_2715.jpgImage by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

So while Genesis' flagship showroom just opened in Hong Kong Plaza – where Gap used to be, just around the corner from the flagship Apple Store on Huaihai Lu – the part where I come in actually involves walking up the stairs to the second floor for the Genesis experience restaurant. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Genesis, in collaboration with restaurateur Mark Klingspon (The NestThe CanneryRye & Co.), Chef Tom Ryu Taehyeok (Jeju IzakayaProfessor LeeBellocoBotong Sikdangand Michael Chen (The Cannery, Laiba), have opened their first contemporary Korean restaurant. Onjium, a Michelin star restaurant from Seoul and New York, is also contributing on the menu curation.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The restaurant fits the luxury car experience mold – sleek modern décor, minimalistic with curved lines and dark detailing, streamlined layout accented by nuanced design elements. Everything has its purpose; nothing is superfluous.

The Food 

The menu focuses on two sets that balance current and classic Korean cuisine – one curated by Onjium and one by Chef Tom. Together, they provide an elevated take on Korean food that carries diners through the past, present and future of Korea. All dishes from the set, plus a few extras, are also available as a la carte options.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Inspiration Set (RMB588/6 courses and one drink) showcases diverse elements from Korea’s long-established gastronomy in novel form. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Based on a recipe passed down by generations of a noble family from the seaside city of Gyeongju, Suranchae sees the oceanic combination of sweet shrimp, scallops, crab, octopus, abalone and pear swimming in a sauce made from poached egg and pine nuts. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A fish delicacy enjoyed since the Joseon Dynasty, Domi Jjim is a humble arrangement of marinated then steamed sea bream, served atop stir-fried beef, zucchini, onions and mushrooms. The ingredients are essential, elegant in their straightforwardness, yet relatable, regardless of culture. 

DSC02802.jpgSanjeok – Sesame Sauce Marinated Grilled Tenderloin, Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

With a history dating back more than 800 years, Insam Galbitang, or short rib soup, is still one of Korea’s most popular dishes. The rich broth is flavored by ginseng and daikon, and – most notably – the behemoth short rib bone covered in succulent meat.

Alongside arrives Hwaban, meaning flower plate, named for the decorative presentation of the vegetables topping the steamed rice. The nutty purple grains are served with doenjang sauce and a variety of banchan, providing an imaginative interplay of textures and flavors that – no wonder – has stood the test of time. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Delicate in both sweetness and lushness, the Ssang Hwa Pyun mixes flavors from the East and West, with a pine nut pudding accentuated by an herbal, saccharine ssanghwa-cha sauce. 

Moving over to the Ingenuity Set (RMB588/6 courses and one drink), a menu that takes an evolutionary approach to Korean cooking, drawing inspiration from across the globe. 

“In the past, inexpensive, traditional dishes such as Korean BBQ, bibimbap and bulgogi were generally perceived as Korean food, but nowadays there have been many new and creative attempts, which have led to more diverse views,” says Chef Tom, a pioneer in the contemporary Korean fare scene in Shanghai. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

For a twist on a popular Korean vegetarian snack commonly paired with seafood, the Haemul Bugak combines all things lux – tuna tartare, caviar, uni and sweet shrimp – and serves it surrounded by three chips – lotus root, seaweed and puffed taro – that act purely as scooping vessels for this decadent morsel. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Truffle Jeonbok Juk is based on a nutritious abalone congee, customarily eaten to boost the immune system, this time enhanced with abalone liver, black truffle, sesame oil and crushed sesame. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A dish usually eaten during Kimjang – an annual kimchi making event in preparation for winter – the Sous-Vide Bossam, or thick-cut pork belly, is then lightly fried with butter and garlic and served with a crunchy, unfermented kimchi and a side of mentaiko (pollock roe) sauce.

A combined bite of the fresh, piquant kimchi, the tender, fat-lined pork and the bold burst of umami-rich roe reflect Chef Tom’s vision of preserving the spirit of Korean cuisine while adding a new dimension through foreign flavors. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Bulgogi Bibimbap needs no introduction – a textbook example of this crowd pleaser that sees steamed and crisped rice topped with juicy licks of barbecued beef slices, fish roe and scallions, heated in a hot stone pot, and served alongside an assortment of banchan and Ojingeo Jjigae, a spicy squid radish soup recipe created by Chef Tom’s grandmother. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

An unexpectedly apt blend of white chocolate infused with makgeolli – Korea’s oldest alcoholic beverage – is rolled into a crispy crepe wafer as Makgeolli Chocolate for the meal’s final crunch. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

As visionary as the menu, the drinks – curated by Michael Chen – are equally inspired. Ten crafted cocktails are on offer, ranging from the sour sipper Danhobak Daisy (RMB88) – featuring black goji gin, cherry blossom vermouth, housemade kombucha, kabocha squash cordial, lemon and yuja jasmine soda – to the Ssämjang Mary (RMB98) – a mix of vodka, tomato, ssämjang mary mix, kombucha vinegar and kimchi brine, that provide more sour and savory depth than you with find in a commonplace Bloody Mary, topped with a sesame salt rim and pickled carrot. 

DSC02747.jpgPisco Plum & Disco (RMB88), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

House-infused sojus – spanning ginseng, persimmon or buckwheat to tangerine peel, shiso leaf or green tea with roasted rice – can be sipped straight or served as Soju Highballs (RMB80). 

The Vibe

The 50-seater restaurant is lit dimly, with heavy velvet curtains blocking out the mall’s entrance, while toned-down house music alternating with jazzy trance block out any frenetic shopping noise that may affect the overall feel of the space. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

It’s all about the small details here, enriching the overall atmosphere – copper Zwilling chopsticks, traditional fermenting kimchi jars lining the kitchen window, thoughtful ingredient curation, attentive, knowledgeable serving staff, subtle warm lighting, ergonomic seating and a consistent, calm rhythm of pervasive refinement that flows from the kitchen to the plate. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Genesis captures the concept of modern Korean cuisine – concurrently nostalgic and ingenious – constantly being refined to highlight the country’s history, regional produce and resourceful flavor pairing.

Price: RMB588
Good For: Gearheads that dabble in food consumption, downtown dwelling Korean food aficionados, lifestyle restaurant experiences
Who’s Going: Anyone struggling to book a table at the ever-popular Jeju Izakaya, those who buy cars while window shopping on Huaihai Lu, the foodie contingency

See a listing for Genesis. Read more Shanghai Restaurant Reviews.

[Cover Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]

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