Today’s post is basically the longest post ever because my friends are awesome, so let’s just jump right into it.
My friends took me on a surprise trip 가매일식 (Gamae Ilsik) one night as a belated Christmas gift I certainly didn’t deserve. As I would never be returning to such a fancy place to review on my own dime, I figured it couldn’t hurt to take full advantage of my gift by forcing my buddies to wait while I obnoxiously took pictures of our food.
Located near the bus terminal, it wasn’t hard to tell how nice this place would be just from the real estate alone. Once we found parking and went inside, we were greeted by someone asking us if we had a reservation. There was a long awkward pause and a bit of scrambling before we were informed that a table was indeed available. It was interesting to see a distinct lack of customers, as every group got their own room. We were not excluded from this, though it did feel a little awkward for just the three of us to sit in a room that was meant to house a proper work dinner.
As I flipped open the menu, I went in expecting selection here to be similar to 가매초밥 (Gamae Chobap; Gamae Sushi), which I’m 98% sure is owned by the same people. What I got was a fancy list with even fancier prices. While there weren’t any pictures, it was a relief to see that most of the menu options had English translations. The dinner sets, which came in Sashimi, Tuna, or Sushi, ranged anywhere from 55,000 to 120,000 per person. The menu also had some lunch specials and single seafood dishes, but the star of the menu appeared the be the Omakase, which is the Japanese word for a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef. It should be noted that if a set is ordered, everyone else at the table will be expected to order the exact same set. As tempting as the idea of consuming ridiculous amounts of tuna was, curiosity forced us to go for the Omakase.
After we placed our order, we started our journey of many courses that offered what I’m pretty sure was a proper sample of the ocean. We started with some black sesame rice porridge, which was nutty, savory, and slightly bitter. The salad that came after was fairly basic, though a bit fruity. We then got a fancy sashimi display that came with a side of raw vegetables, an assortment of sauces to be used for either or, some roasted seaweed, and this garlicky kimchi that has basically turned into one of my favorite forms of fermented cabbage. I wasn’t able to identify all of the fish on the plate, but my eyes were immediately drawn to the different cuts of tuna and the freshly grated wasabi. Needless to say, it was fantastic.
Next came a shellfish platter than came with oysters, meat from different types of clam, and what I’m pretty sure as raw 홍어 (hongeo; skate). The oysters weren’t as fresh as we hoped they would be, but they still tasted alright. The rest of the plate was relatively untouched by me, because I’m someone who honestly doesn’t know how to appreciate seafood properly. The next couple of dishes came with 산낙지 (sannakji; raw octopus tentacles) and some sort of spicy tuna that was very reminiscent of spicy raw beef. The former, which I have tried before, was a fun experience as always. For those who have never tried this dish, the tentacles don’t really taste like much outside of whatever they’ve been seasoned with. I’m pretty certain people eat this more for the experience than anything. The spicy tuna was probably one of my favorites of the night, leaving me wishing that I could have enjoyed this in a roll or on top of rice.
We then got some sort of duck and onion salad, which was tasty and came with a smear of some sort of sweet and savory sauce, and 어묵탕 (oemuktang; fish cake soup), which was basically a fancier version of the more common street food version. The next two dishes were grilled mackerel and some sort of white fish that a couple of us thought was monkfish. Both fish came with a slice of lemon to add some acidity, and while the mackerel was nice, the mystery fish was insanely tender and moist. We also got a plate filled with different types of sushi, ranging anywhere from raw sweet shrimp to a piece of pound cake. As this was my first time trying sweet shrimp, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The rest pf the pieces were pretty standard.
Next up was some sort of fried ball that was crunchy on the outside and filled with moist pieces of salmon. I loved this one. Then arrived a small grill to cook up some thin slices of beef and what I think were even thinner slices of scallops. Despite the amount of setup required for this course, we didn’t want things cooking too long, as we didn’t want anything overcooked. It also came with mushrooms, which I did a great job of soaking up the meat juices. We also got some crab legs, which made this fancy meal into a messy one as we tore into that tasty meat.
As we started to get full, we got some grilled rice cakes, which tasted kind of fishy, and some shrimp tempura, which is pretty much my favorite way to consume shrimp. The last of the seafood we got was salted and dried yellow corvina, which is a classic Korean dish that I strongly dislike for personal reasons. If you’re a fan of funky fish, this is definitely for you. At last, we got some rice mixed with refreshing green tea before finishing our meal with a cinnamon tea with a side of fruit and a lovely brittle.
Consider how long this post was and imagine how long it take to eat all that food. If that sounds appealing, and you have a bit of money burning a hole in your pocket, then 가매일식 is the place for you. It may not be for the faint of heart, but it’s certainly a great option for anyone who enjoys most types of seafood. Even when going with a small party, it’s recommended that one make reservations beforehand, as this spot can get pretty busy. Be sure to come hungry and be prepared to spend a good few hours here.
Address: 광주광역시 서구 농성동 649-1 (right next to Nongseong subway station)
Hours: 11:30AM to 10:00PM
Average Price Range: 55,000 to 120,000 per set