The second Michelin Guide Singapore award ceremony took place at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore last month, and we’re still recovering from the excitement of it. The second edition saw 11 new entrants to the list, with Singapore now boasting 38 eateries with the coveted star(s).
Since Michelin’s first foray into Asia in 2007, which saw the first publication of the Tokyo guide, many other cities have since followed suit — including Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul. The latter, with a culinary scene famed for street food, barbecue and soju, also saw its inaugural edition being published last year.
While we all know and love popular Korean dining places such as Doma Hongdae and Gangnam Myeonok (the best place for braised beef ribs), the launch of Seoul’s Michelin Guide has definitely shaken up the dining scene — highlighting fine dining options which visitors to the South Korean capital might not have known about.
The first edition for Seoul sees 24 restaurants awarded with stars, with two Korean restaurants achieving the coveted three-star rating. From dishes that are prepared using the best seasonal ingredients to the best Jeju black beef in Seoul, here are 6 places you need to try the next time you’re in the capital city.
Taking pride in serving high-end, elegant cuisine in a space that honours Korean aesthetic values, this three-Michelin-starred restaurant serves meticulously-prepared dishes served in custom-designed KwangJuYo ceramic vessels. Gaon specialises in presenting dishes that fully explore the natural flavours of seasonal ingredients.
Gaon, M Floor Holim Art Center, 317 Dosan–daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
La Yeon, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant spearheaded by Chef Kim Sung Il, is located on the 23rd floor of Shilla Hotel — offering panoramic vistas of Namsan Park. The restaurant has also earned itself a spot on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list with its reinvented Korean cuisine that pairs well with wine. La Yeon puts a sophisticated twist on Korean cuisine, using ingredients of the highest quality and perfect culinary expertise, while still keeping true to Hansik traditions. Try the seafood Naengchae, where different seasonal ingredients are used and Korean gochujang flavours are applied with sophistication.
La Yeon, Hotel Shilla, 249 Dongho-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul 100-856
For the best French cuisine in Seoul, head to this restaurant owned by renowned French Chef Pierre Gagnaire. His eponymous fine dining restaurant is housed in an elegant space that exudes French luxury on top of Lotte Hotel’s new wing in 2008. Gagnaire presents artfully presented food made from 80 percent local ingredients, as well as an impressive wine cellar display that boasts more than 250 labels.
Pierre Gagnaire, 1 Sogong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Boasting a unique theme that focuses on the dining culture of the noblemen of the past, Kwon Sook Soo interprets traditional Korean cuisine with a modern flair. Each meal begins with the presentation of juan-sang, a small table with alcohol and appetisers. Try the sweetfish pot rice, as the restaurant is famous for its fried seafood dishes.
Kwon Sook Soo, 27 Eonju-ro 170-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Sweeping views of Seoul from the 50th floor is not the only thing that sets this restaurant apart. Gotgan by Lee Jong Guk — who is widely heralded as a pioneer of modern Korean cuisine — makes use of seasonal ingredients to create dishes that showcase the unique characteristics of Korean cuisine. Instead of using artificial seasonings for its rich flavouring, the restaurant utilises various pickled vegetables made through soy sauce and soybean paste that have been fermented for over thirty years.
Gotgan, 50F, 24 Yeoui-daero, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
While Michelin-starred cuisine and Korean barbecue sound pretty incongruent when mentioned in the same breath, Bo Reum Soei proves us wrong. One of the only restaurants in Seoul to specialise in Jeju black beef, Bo Reum Soei offers a variety of beef cuts, ranging from tenderloin to beef tartare. The fresh beef is delivered from a local farm in Jeju, which is operated by the restaurant.
Bo Reum Soei, 36, Teheran-ro 81-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul