Monday, April 26, 2010

Haneul Jeongwon Pizza

I didn't have any plans after work on Saturday, but I wanted to do something to celebrate the arrival of my weekend. I decided to try one of the pizzas at Haneul Jeongwon, an Italian restaurant close to my apartment that either means "Sky Garden" or "Garden of Heaven" depending on how literal you are. Although I recently experienced a chunky, cluttered monstrosity of a mushroom risotto there that I'd rather not recount, I spied two women sharing a pizza at a nearby table and it looked promising. The crust was thin and bubbly, just how I like it, and I saw on the menu that there was a formaggi pizza featuring an intriguing combination of mozzarella, gruyere, camembert, and gorgonzola.

I knew what I wanted when I arrived at the restaurant, but I still had an important choice to make: I could eat the hot pizza there and put up with speakers blasting a saccharine-voiced woman singing painfully drawn out renditions of songs like "Fields of Gold," or take it to go and feel its heat slowly slip away from me as I made the fifteen minute walk home. I chose the latter.

Upon opening the box, I was pleasantly surprised at the blast of sunshine that hit me; the pizza formaggi is a gorgeous yellow concoction with a saffron sauce and a triangle of camembert on every slice.

First, the pros: it was spiked with garlic, the crust was thin, crisp and bubbly but also soft where it needed to be, and the bites that included camembert were sensational.
On the other hand, the cons: the layer of cheese had hardened and was more plastic than gooey, and my efforts at re-heating it merely produced cheese sweat. Ew. I doubt that this would have been much better at the restaurant because the problem seemed inherent in the cheeses of choice. Also, despite the nice hits of garlic, the pizza needed more contrast in taste or texture; the bites without camembert became monotonous after a while.

Finally, the saffron sauce was a bit too buttery for me and seemed like it was probably there to impress as opposed to being a well thought-out contribution to the pizza's flavor profile. Overall, the cons won out, particularly the unforgivable texture of the cheese, and yet the pizza had enough promise that I'm inclined to try another pie on their menu. Also, I swallowed up the sun in one sitting, so clearly its redeemable qualities were enough to keep me going back for more.

Location: Next to the Dongdae University Station, just up the road from the Red Mango in the direction of Seoul Tower.
Mushroom risotto: the picture says it all.

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