Oh the excitement when I saw someone post on a public forum that Eggs Benedict was available in Ulsan! Breakfast was always my favourite meal to eat out with my husband back home. I loved the simplicity of the dishes and how satisfying they tasted when a restaurant or cafe got it spot on. This is one of the things that I miss the most – being able to get out of bed and drive to one of the many locations (and for a good breakfast, I would drive up to half an hour to get to my destination) we had to choose from for an exceptional breakfast. Try finding somewhere to even eat at 8:30am any day of the week in Ulsan and you’ll be hard pressed. Sure, there are hotels who serve up a western breakfast menu, but also at western price bordering on extortion.
So we made our way to New York Kitchen Cafe just down the street from KFC in new downtown (Nam-gu or this section is known also as Dal-dong to the west of Samsan-dong), getting there just after 10am, which is when they opened. From the street, the cafe’s signage is displayed in all it’s glory and definitely not at all difficult to spot. As you enter the front door, you are welcomed by a beautifully decorated chalk board, and a charming set of stairs. Once you reach the top of the stairs, the cafe is gorgeous and looked very much like many of our favourite breakfast spots back home. The menu, in english (although the descriptions written in Korean) was displayed along with pictures so that you have some idea of what it is you are ordering.
My husband and daughter both ordered the Eggs Benedict (after all, she is her father’s child) and as a point of difference, I would go out on a limb and try the American Brunch Combo. It worked in our favour later on – but we’ll get to that. With the absence of banana smoothy (boo!) we ordered two caramel frappacinos and an apple juice to compliment our breakfast.
When the frappacinos arrived, I was delighted! What an adorable idea, using small jugs as drinking mugs. I am not a religious coffee drinker, so I can’t really comment on how good the coffee blend was in my caramel frap, but I am an experienced Starbucks (and Zarraffa’s if you’re on the east coast of Australia) patron and I do know what a good frappacino tastes like and this was definitely above average, but I wouldn’t be so confident as to say it was outstanding. Nonetheless, we were off to a good start!
Again, as advised by my caveman husband – you need to get here way before you’re starving. They took some time to prepare our order and my husband was already beginning to give me the “you’ve already made me wait until after 10am to eat breakfast, and now you’ve brought me to a place that takes 10 hours to make my meal” look. In his defence, he wasn’t being completely precious, we were the only patrons in the cafe and it felt like a good 20-25 minute wait until our food arrived.
Unfortunately when it did arrive, my daughter could not hide her disappointment because what was presented in front of us was far from any type of Eggs Benedict that any of us has ever seen before (and I’ve seen some Hollandaise on the paler side of yellow). The sauce, which was so generously poured on top of each stack, is what I can only describe to be a mix between mayonnaise and ranch dressing with a slightly thicker consistency. Edible however far from enjoyable.
Eggs Benedict Combo – 8,000 Won
A few moments later, my American Brunch was served, and no surprise, the child wanted to trade (and this time, by child, I don’t mean the husband) so it ended up being a good thing that I had ordered something different. Again, it was unimpressive. Luckily my daughter didn’t mind the french toast drizzled with what tasted like maple syrup. The accompanying side of salad was interesting to say the least – sweet pineapple with a vinaigrette-like dressing. The beans in the short coffee cup was quite delicious though, simply steamed and sitting in a pool of dipping soy sauce. Definitely the best thing about the meals! To be honest, they could have very easily pleased me by piling on a bunch of cooked bacon and banana (cooked or uncooked, I’m not prejudice) on top of the french toast, and topped if off with a drizzle of maple syrup. As for the Benedict, it was only the sauce that missed the mark. There was nothing wrong with how they poached the egg (which isn’t always the easiest of tasks when it comes to ways to cook an egg perfectly).
American Brunch Combo – 9,000 Won
All in all, as if you haven’t already gathered, I was disappointed with the meals. Agreed, I probably set myself up for failure when my expectations went through the roof after hearing about this place – something I will need to tone down. I can’t decide if the meals were intentionally tweaked for the Korean market, or if in fact, this was their best effort to put forward a western breakfast/brunch menu. If it is the latter, perhaps they will be fortunate enough to stumble upon a foreigner who can give them a few tips as to how they could do it right (if it is in fact the foreign market they’re catering for). Unfortunately, New York Kitchen Cafe was close, but no cigar…
To get there, enter either of the two below addresses into Google Maps to show you how to get there by foot, road or bus from your location.
Street address: 10 Samsan-ro241beon-gil, Nam-gu, Ulsan, South Korea
Alternative address: 1366-1, Dal-dong, Nam-gu, Ulsan, South Korea