I have recently found myself dining at the Haeundae Branch of the Italian restaurant chain Mad For Garlic. Twice! Mad For Garlic is a South Korean ‘Italian Wine Bistro’, which has 39 branches in Korea alone. They specialize in dishes based around, can you guess….. Garlic!
The first visit was at the request of my fiancé, and the second as we had an excellent discount coupon available to us from the restaurant’s membership club. A quick note on that. It is well worth joining, as the discounts they offer are substansial. On this occasion we cashed one in which allowed us to choose a free steak from the menu. As Mad For Garlic can be on the pricey side, it’s a welcome bonus. To join you have to register online, best to get a Korean speaking friend to help you if possible.
Over the two visits we tried a variety of things from the menu. The first visit we ordered a set which featured the Garlic Snowing Pizza, the Angel Hair Pasta with Fresh Tomato, the Fil et Mingon with Emmenthal cheese, and the cheese fondue.
The undoubted star here was the steak. Ordered medium rare, the steak came to the table on a hot plate, fabulously thick and tender, seasoned to perfection with salt, pepper, and the ubiquitous garlic. The flavour of the meat was excellent, and it really was melt in the mouth stuff. We were impressed.
The garlic snowing pizza was not as impressive. The crust is paper thin, more like a tortilla than a pizza base, and seemed strangely cold. As if it hadn’t been freshly cooked. The Garlic chips on top were bland. However, there was a generous covering of grated parmesan cheese, which packed a nice punch, and tasted like it had come of a real block of cheese, as opposed to being pre-packaged. The smell of a cheese is always a good indicator of its freshness, and the parmesan didn’t disappoint, fragrant and heady, as a good aged cheese should be. It was a shame the rest of the pizza couldn’t live up to it!
The angel hair pasta was crisp, fresh, with a nice herby dressing. It complimented the other dishes well, and provided a nice contrast to the rich steak and pizza. It wasn’t too oily, and came with a generous helping of crisp, fresh salad on top. I was less impressed with the cheese fondue. It was bizarrely frothy, as if it had been whipped, and didn’t pack much of a flavour at all. A bit of a missed trick.
With two glasses of wine, the set came in at 72,000 won. I think this represents decent value considering the quality of the ingredients on offer. Some of the dishes fell short of excellent, but we still left feeling like we had eaten well, and got our money’s worth too.
On our second visit, we opted for the Garlic steak, the Crab Cheonyang Cream Pasta, and the Garlic Pane on the side. The steak wasn’t as excellent as our previous visit. It came a touch overcooked when ordered medium rare. However, the meat was again flavourful, and as we had got it free with our membership, we weren’t complaining! The crab pasta may well be the standout dish from both visits. Smooth, garlicky cream sauce, with a large, well cooked crab sitting on top waiting to be cracked open and eaten. If you like seafood, this is for you. It also managed to avoid having that odd, sweet taste I’ve found a lot of pasta dishes in Korea to have.
One quibble from this visit was that everything came at different times. On our previous visit, all the dishes came more or less at the same time. This meant we could share dishes, and everything stayed hot and fresh. This time, there was a 5 or 6 minute gap between dishes. I know the garlic pane is labelled as a starter, but so is the Angel Hair pasta, and last time everything came together. I found this lack of consistency to be a little frustrating. With two glasses of wine the bill came to 43,000 won. A bargain considering what we had. All hail coupons!
The décor of MFG is lovely. All dark stone and wine bottles. However, I found the staff to be somewhat cold and unfriendly. On our second visit we walked in at 8:40 to be told ‘We close at 10.’ I knew this. I thought 80 minutes would be plenty.
All in all, Mad For Garlic is a cut above most Italian food you can find in Korea, but you will pay a premium for it. I highly recommend finding one of the many coupons available from their membership scheme or other websites, to make the dining experience a little easier on your wallet!
Mad For Garlic Haeundae is located just off the beach. It is on the 4th floor of a building, between Starbucks and TGI Friday’s (see pic). To get there from Haeundae subway station, come out exit 5, and walk down the main strip towards the beach. Just before you cross the main road leading to the beach, take a right. The restaurant will be in a fork in the road in front of you. It is opposite a MacDonald’s.
크리스마스날의 근사한 저녁한끼! 어디서 먹지?
이미 한국에서는 보편화되어있는 매드포갈릭.
하지만 아직 한 번도 가보지 못한 우리는 오늘 저녁식사로 매드포갈릭 당첨! 음¬ 분위기도 좋고 바다를 바로 볼수있는 자리에 세팅해주었다. 우리가 8시정도 가서 그런지 여유롭게 웨이팅업이 즐길 수있었다.
우리가 주문한 메뉴는 크림크랩 파스타와 스테이크, 그리고 하우스와인 두잔. 특히 크랩파스타에서는 진한 맛이 일품이였다. 정말 바다바로 앞에서 먹는 듯한 신선함이 내 혀를 마비시켰다 하하 /(오글주의) 그렇지만 정말 그 만큼 게가 신선했다. 보통 게를 먹을땐 살이 별로 없거나 냄새나기 쉬운데, 이 곳은 굉장히 신선. 이 크림 크랩파스타는 정말 강추다! 그런데 아쉬운점은 언제나 그렇듯 양이다. 양이 그리 많지 않아, 싹싹 긁어먹었다는….. ㅜㅜ
하이튼 가격도 저렴하고(카카오톡 친구를 맺으면 할인쿠폰이많이 들어온다) 분위기를 내고싶다면 매드포갈릭을 추천!!