East meets West at Italian eateryThe quiet neighborhood of Samcheong-dong behind the Blue House is home to a number of elegant, little-known restaurants. Among them is the tiny Ppeng & Ppang, which specializes in Italian pasta.
Located on the two-lane drive leading to the Bugak Tunnel, Ppeng & Ppang stands out for its architecture. It’s housed in what was once a traditional Korean home, or hanok, that was completely remodeled to create a unique East-meets-West atmosphere.
The restaurant’s recipes were developed by the Jin sisters, So-yeon and So-yoon, who trained as chefs in Milan. The identical twins also run an Italian cooking school, also called Ppeng & Ppang (their childhood nicknames), in the Namsan area of central Seoul.
I order the carpaccio de Manzo (13,000 won or about $10.40) and am presented with a plate of thinly sliced raw beef topped with shavings of Parmesan cheese. In the center is a salad of lettuce leaves, fresh artichoke hearts and mushrooms. The salad is topped with parmesan and a creamy mustard dressing. The combination ― delicate greens, sharp cheese and fresh meat ― is sublime.
The manager recommends fedelini with capers and anchovies in a white wine sauce (16,000 won). The pasta, which is a very thin spaghetti, arrives piping hot, graced with plump, succulent prawns, capers and cherry tomatoes. The sauce is light and refreshing with a hint of anchovies, though the fish are nowhere in sight. The sauce is so tasty that I order more bread to wipe my plate clean.
The house wine is an Australian red (5,000 won a glass, the manager wouldn’t name the vineyard) and it nicely complements the pasta. The wine list includes a 1998 Chateau Les Ollieux Futs Corbieres from France for 40,000 won a bottle and a 2000 Mildara-Blass Black Opal Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia for 45,000 won.
Ppeng & Ppang’s kitchen is so small that the Jin sisters don’t make dessert. Espresso (4,000 won) and cappuccino (4,500 won), nevertheless, make a satisfying end to the meal.
Ppeng & Ppang
Telephone: (02) 722-5930
Address: 47-2 Samcheong-dong, behind the Blue House
Hours: 11:55 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:50 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; all day Sunday
Credit cards: Accepted
by Ines Cho