If you think mall dining equals bland, pre-prepared dishes being churned out under the harsh glow of strip lights, Professor Lee is a spot that will make you think again. At lunch, it’s a bustling location serving reasonably-priced set meals for the office crowd at K11; by night, it’s a sleeker, low-lit affair with a (still reasonably-priced) dinner menu and a very affordable wine list delivered by staff who give a little bow whenever they leave your table.
Brought to you by the folks behind quirky Xinzha Lu Korean eatery Bellocco, Professor Lee is billed as a collaboration with ‘eminent ceramic art professor’ Lee In Jin from Hongik University. Pottery creations are therefore dotted around the space, while Lee has also had a hand in designing the charming crockery upon which the dishes are served.
Lunch options – which range from 58-78RMB for a set featuring one main dish, a few small plates of banchan (Korean sides such as kimchi) and a soup – include a tasty classic bibimbap and a rich seafood tomato stew. There’s also a series of a la carte options, which are available at dinner too. Of these, the ‘Korean Stir-fried Spicy Live Octopus’ (128RMB) is the most eye-catching. The ‘live’ part of the name turns out to be misleading, but they’re not joking about the spicy bit – a member of the waitstaff cuts tentacles from the cooked mollusc onto a bed of fried cabbage and an authentically fiery sauce.
Spice levels are high throughout in fact, a bold decision from the kitchen given that most downtown restaurants often dial things down in that department. Even the seemingly innocuous heap of al dente pasta and bouncy prawns that comprise the base of the enjoyable jumbo shrimp cream spaghetti (98RMB) is laced with a kick from fermented gochujang sauce.
As this dish may indicate, another signature of Professor Lee is their tendency for fusion offerings. This is perhaps most successfully realised in the risotto with spicy Korean chicken (78RMB), which balances fire from the meat with a creamy cheese and mushroom rice base. For something a little more traditional, don’t skip the delicious fire-roasted beef bulgogi (88RMB), which comes adorned with a (less traditional) poached egg, the gooey yolk adding a further dimension.
Ignore the mall trappings and head here for some tasty Korean fare which, thanks to a partnership with French wine importers CWS, you can pair with good bottles of wine from as little as 128RMB.