It’s a new year so a good idea is to go out and try something new. Luckily in food, new restaurants are always springing up all over Seoul. Eateries in the city are like rabbits that constantly multiply then hop away. Here are my picks for the best of the new in 2014.
- Samcheongdong area
- Fabbro 대장장이 파브로
The chef from the famous Daejangjangi (Blacksmith) Hwadeok Pizza in Seoul’s Bukchon village has opened an upscale Italian restaurant in the same neighborhood. The new bistro is set in a hanok decorated with antique furniture and serving fare that delightfully merges Korean and Italian cuisine. The open beams and high ceilings lit up by the simple iron candlers make the venue look like a cathedral for foodies. Everything feels crafted like the black-iron and ceramic pizza pans. The oven is centrally placed like an altar and obviously is the heart of the restaurant. Pizzas come out with perfectly baked crusts freckled with a bit of char, evidence of the duel the food had with fire in the oven. The pizza toppings are all made from a tart sauce and top quality ingredients. The amazing Pulcinella Bianca has black olives, ham, homemade ricotta cheese, cream and mushrooms. The Ripieno is a calzone-style pizza stuffed with veggies, meat and cheese. Also try great pastas such as the seafood pasta, which is like a bouillabaisse, and unusual versions like the ridged Reginette and slick Pappardelle. The ricotta and pita salad come with a crescent moon pita and pure ricotta cheese. This is definitely one of the best Italian restaurants in Seoul.
- Daejangjangi Fabbro 대장장이 파브로
- T. 02-765-4267
- Itaewon area
- Left Coast Artisan Burgers 레프트 코스트 아티잔 버거
There is no shortage of “gourmet” burger joints in Korea, yet few live up to the bill. Left Coast was inspired by the U.S. state of California to make Asian-inspired soul food. This place has surprisingly gourmet accompaniments to burgers such as homemade tater tots, galbi fries (Korean short-rib fries) and macaroni and cheese (mmm...mac’n cheese). On the burger front, it has three types all made from freshly ground beef and handmade sauces and served on homemade buns. Get a taste of the American West with the tangy and robust John Wayne Burger, which is topped with melted sharp cheddar and crunchy onion rings. My favorite is the Juicy Lucy, a burger stuffed with American cheese and cooked until the cheese is oozy. For something a little different, the Little Piggy Bao Bun has an uber-savory pork belly topped with a sweet tart sauce and a vinegary Asian slaw. The space is clean and slick and the open kitchen elevates the experience from a simple dine-and-dash spot to a place to spend with friends.
Left Coast Burgers 레프트 코스트 아티잔 버거
- T. 02-6223-5338
- Price: KRW 6,000–15,000
- Sweet Red Bean Bread at Dan Patbang 단팥빵
- Breakfast is tough to find in Korea because most restaurants don’t open until 11:30 am Fortunately, the transport hub of Seoul Station opens early and offers an array of breakfast options, from Korean rice and soup and Japanese odeng to fast food and Western brunch and even pastries. My favorite place is Dan Patbang, which serves hot red bean or chestnut stuffed bread. With coffee, this is a great way to start the day.
- Dan Patbang 단팥빵 → Seoul Station area
- Price: KRW 1,500
- Seoul Station, first floor by the escalator to Express Airport Train
- A Lunch Thali at Potala 포탈라
- Curry and rice were how I survived university, so I’m always on the lookout for a taste of my college days. While wandering around Cheonggyechon Stream, I came across this quiet and quaint Nepalese restaurant. The place is ornately decorated and the food well prepared. Naan comes hot out of the tandoori and the curries are buttery and flavorful. Prices are reasonable as well (just like in the good ole’ days.)
- Potala 포탈라 → Jongno 3-ga Station area
- T. 02-318-0094
- Price: KRW 6,000–13,000
- Jongno 3-ga Station 종로3가역 (Lines 1&3), Exit 15. Walk a block and take a left to Cheonggyecheon, then take a right. Potala is next to Pagoda Institute.
- Fried Potatoes and Beer at Passion Potato 열정감자
- Fried potatoes, chicken tenders, sweet potatoes, fried cheese and beer can be dinner, right? Sure, if they are the amazing fried potatoes from Passion Potato. The world-class potatoes match perfectly with the cold beer served in Pyrex measuring cups. The place is kitschy, with the handsome young servers all having funny nicknames and positive attitudes.
- Passion Potato 열정감자 → Gongdeok area
- T. 02-704-5536
- Price: KRW 3,000–8,000
- Gongdeok Station 공덕역 (Lines 5, 6, Gyeongui and Airport), Exit 9. Walk a block up the alley than make a right, and you’ll see it in the building across the street on the second floor.
- Ice Cream from Softree 소프트리
- Can you go wrong with creamy, slightly tart soft-serve ice cream made with organic milk? Probably not. Softree is like a perfectly chilled glass of milk. The most popular flavor is honey chip, complete with a real piece of honeycomb that makes this ice cream shimmer.
- Softree 소프트리 → Gangnam area
- T. 02-541-0301
- Price: KRW 3,500–6,000
- This classy and sophisticated restaurant and event venue was designed by a foodie. Regular social events are held here for the city’s elite, such as singles’ night, business networking and performances by domestic and international musicians. Divine has a great brunch menu served regularly and a tempting array of tapas and charcuterie to go with wine, beer and cocktails. The continental breakfasts are as good (if not better) as those served at many hotels. French toast and omelets are also a delight. Lamb chop lovers can order the surf-and-turf platter with shrimp. The desserts are recommended as well. Divine lives up to its namesake as a prime venue to wine, dine and socialize.
- → Itaewon area
- T. 070-4131-5002
- Price: KRW 10,000—25,000
- Café Mamas
- Dairy and cheese are all the rage in Korea, and Café Mamas knows how to keep its Korean clientele happy. This place boasts dense, hot and cheesy panini and ricotta cheese that’s more cheese than salad. While many in Korea have tried to make sandwiches trendy, Café Mamas has done it through a fresh and healthy concept (which really isn’t so healthy because of the amount of cheese it uses). Regardless, the restaurant is always filled with young and petite Korean girls. The quality of food is good and hearty, with sandwiches being the type to share with friends. The ricotta cheese is creamy and the balsamic vinegar, chopped nuts and cranberries pair well with it. After a meal this epic, juice is a perfect dessert.
- T. 02-6030-8979
- Price: KRW 6,500—11,500
Yongdu Station (Line 2), Exit 4
- Various locations; check their website (www.cafemamas.co.kr)
The article courtesy of Seoul magazine
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