Let the good times roll in Sinsa
A proper meal here begins with a Shark Attack. The waitress takes a hollow, plastic toy shark, about 6 inches long, and dumps its red contents into a frozen blue margarita. It looks like the shark puked up its dinner into your drink, but don’t worry — it tastes not of rotten fish entrails and Australian body-boarders, but of strawberry daiquiri.
You can find the Shark Attack at Pier 17, a restaurant in Sinsa-dong specializing in the cuisine of Louisiana. The atmosphere is fun and homey, with a black pier motif that isn’t too Disney. Many Cajun specialties are available: po’boys, jambalaya, flat pies and Cajun fried dishes, as well as boiled shrimp, crab and crawfish. They also offer a variety of sides, including a killer coleslaw with big chunks of vegetables.
But back to the Shark Attack. The mix is tasty, sugary and potent. Whether it’s worth 9,000 of your hard-earned won is a judgment call. Pier 17’s “hurricanes,” which resemble an actual New Orleans hurricane in name only, are not. They look like pink snow cones, and taste like ice, sugar and an ill-defined booze, probably rum.
We also ordered a couple set for 23,000 won that came with a pulled pork po’boy sandwich, chicken gumbo and oysters Rockefeller. All were excellent.
The po’boy’s pork was tender and exquisitely cooked. There were two cheeses on top — cheddar and a white cheese we were unsure of — and in a beautiful twist, there was avocado under the pork, along with very robust tomatoes. There was no remoulade sauce to be found, but it did have a tasty vinaigrette.
The chicken gumbo had chicken, sausage, shrimp, rice, onion, okra and a few other vegetables. But the primary ingredient in the gumbo was black pepper, and tons of it. Flavors were nicely traded, and the meat was tender, moist and spicy. The gumbo had obviously been simmering for a long time, as it should have. If you get french fries — with your po’boy or otherwise — skip the ketchup and dip them in the gumbo. Fries in the gumbo might be for Philistines, but are still delicious. Go ahead and soak the bread too, for a few minutes at least, or longer if you have the patience.
The oysters Rockefeller with lemon squeezed on top had a fresh, clean taste, even if getting at least one of the oysters off the shell was a bit of a battle. The butter in the breading was perfect, and it didn’t crumble with the oysters underneath.
But in naming a weak point, the biscuits we ordered at the end were disappointingly dry, and the accompanying strawberry butter/honey mix was too sweet and not terribly appetizing.
It’s pub-style seating, with high tables and stools in the front and a raised dining area in the back. There is an open kitchen. And for a Tuesday night, it was packed, with a clientele who appeared to be exclusively Korean.
The description of the food is all in Korean, and waitstaff spoke some English, but not much.
Overall, it’s a great dining experience for those who love fresh, spicy food in general, and Cajun food especially. But get beer instead of the cocktails, and skip the biscuits.
Entrée prices run from 12,000 won for the po’boy plates to 25,000 won for a full plate of pork ribs. There are 9,900 won lunch specials available from noon until 3 p.m.
Pier 17 Cajun restaurant
Address: Seoul, Sinsa-dong 532-4 2F
Walk out of exit 8 at Sinsa Station, turn left into Saerosu-gil and walk about 10 minutes. It’s on the right, before the Starbucks, on the second floor.