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Report on Celebrities’ Restaurants!

Report on Celebrities’ Restaurants! Does the food taste good at celebrity-owned restaurants?
Report on Celebrities’ Restaurants!
Does the food taste good at celebrity-owned restaurants?

Recently, the number of celebrity stars who own restaurants is increasing, and the number of locals going to these “star restaurants” is also on the rise. So, how is the food, the ambience, and the service at these celebrity restaurants? Here are some recommendations from our travel bloggers.

Bae Yong-joon’s Gorilla in the Kitchen

Bloggers’ Rating! Ambience ★★★★★ Food ★★★★ Service ★★★★★
Owned by Korean Hallyu star Bae Yong-joon, Gorilla in the Kitchen has been the talk of the town. The unique name comes from the animal known for its energy and wisdom - the gorilla.

Also known as “Yon-sama’s restaurant,” the restaurant received a good rating thanks to its elegant interior, great service, and good food. With health as the main theme of the menu, numerous enticing meals are in store for those interested in staying trim and healthy like Bae Yong-joon. You won’t find fries or any dishes using butter here. The amount of salt is also controlled according to the recommended daily intake. Clientele will also find detailed information on the ingredients and cooking methods as well as information on nutrition, weight, and calories. If you want a smaller portion, order human or choose gorilla for a larger amount.

Recommended health dishes are tagged as “Muscle Smart” in the menu. There are so many dishes on offer that newcomers may take a long time to decide what they are gong to order. Non-Korean speakers will be relieved to learn that there is an English menu. The easiest choices on the menu are probably the human and gorilla combos. Also, a smoothie, whipped up in any of 20 different flavors, is not only satisfying, but fills you with energy. A combo meal comes with a free health consultation with a health consultant regarding your sugar level. Be sure to ask for it when you order, so you’ll get a more accurate sugar level before the meal.

The uniquely attractive interior is white, and the pristine design is highlighted by elegant decorative pieces. On the second floor, a variety of silver ladles and spoons are displayed on the walls. Strangely, there are no items or photos of Bae Yong-joon. In fact, this reflects the restaurant’s philosophy - to attract a clientele based on the quality of their food rather than the popularity of Bae Yong-joon being a celebrity.
[Visitor’s Information]
Address: Sinsa-dong 650, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Opening Hours: Weekdays 11:00~23:00, weekends 10:00~23:00
Closed: on New Year’s Day and Chuseok holiday
Main Menu: Smart Lunch Set 35,000-45,000 won, Smart Dinner Set 45,000-52,000 won, Crispy Rice Sushi 21,000 won, 7 Grilled Veggies on Oven-Baked Pizza 21,000 won, ‘Tobiko’ Pasta 19,000 won, Tenderloin Steak 37,000 won, Very Berry smoothie 7,000-9,000 won, sweet pumpkin latte 9,000 won
Tel: +82-2-3442-1688 (Korean, English, Japanese)
Language: Service is available in English and Japanese. Menu comes in both Korean and English.
How to Get There: Take subway Line 3 to Apgujeong Station, and go out of Exit 3. Take a taxi to Dosan Park and get out in front of the front gate of the park (should cost the basic fare). Facing the gate, go to the right and you will see the restaurant.
Homepage: (Korean, English)

Tip: Nearby Attractions
After a meal at Gorilla in the Kitchen, why not go shopping on Apgujeong’s Rodeo Street, the home of cutting-edge fashion. The street is lined with trendy shops, so even window shopping can be fun, and you can also watch fashionably dressed young people on the streets. For other shopping options, visit the nearby Galleria and Hyundai department stores.

☞ More information on the “shopping in Apgujeong”
Related Columns:
☞ Apgujeong & Cheongdam – High End Shopping In Seoul’s Trendiest Areas
☞ [Gourmet Restaurants Series 5] Apgujeong: Where to Enjoy Elegant Korean Table d’hôte

Kwon Sang-Woo’s TEA’US

Bloggers’ Rating! Ambience ★★★★ Food ★★★ Service ★★★★
In May 2009, Korea’s famous Hallyu star Kwon Sang-Woo opened a café in Myeong-dong, Seoul. Its name, TEA’US came from the celebrity’s nickname, “Mr. Tears”. It also means a place where you can have a cup of tea with people you love. The café is conveniently located in the Myeong-dong area, a very popular shopping area among foreign tourists.

Staple items on the menu include coffee and gelato ice cream. Various beverages such as tea and fruit juice and snacks including waffles, cakes and sandwiches are also served. Life-size photos of the star are printed on the wall of the stairway leading up to the second floor. Almost all of the visitors take pictures here. On entering the café, visitors can see many photos of the actor, which makes you feel as if you are in the star’s fan club house. In one corner, TV dramas or movies featuring Kwon Sang-Woo are screened all the time.
The café is very spacious, and various types of tables are set up. There is a separate door leading to the smoking section, which is located close to the terrace. From the smoking section, visitors can overlook the Myeongdong district.
The café sells mugs printed with the star’s autograph and T-shirts with TEA’US logo. Many Japanese tourists visit the café, which shows how popular Kwon Sang-Woo is in Japan. The café is the perfect place for tourists to relax and recover from their shopping trip.

☞For more information on “shopping in Myeong-dong”
Related Columns:
☞ Myeongdong Matters
☞ [Gourmet Restaurants Series 1] Myeongdong: A Favorite Street of Gourmet Restaurants

[Visitor’s Information]
Address: Seoul Jung-gu Chungmuro 2-ga, 65-9 Hi Harriet Building 2F
Opening Hours: 07:00~24:00 (Open all year round)
Menu: Coffee 3,800 ~ 5,500 won, Tea, Fruit Juice, Waffle & Gelato Ice Cream 10,000 won, Cup Cake 5,000 won
Inquiries: +82-2-2079-0990 (Korean, English, Japanese)
Getting There: Come out of exit# 6 of Myeongdong station (subway line 4) and walk straight, you will see Café Tea’us in the building on your right. Look for the striking white door with the strange shape.
Homepage: (Korean)
☞To watch on video on how to get to the café, click here: (Korean)
Ahn Jung-hwan Couple’s Tovou

Bloggers’ Rating! Ambience ★★★ Food ★★★ Service ★★★★
Tovou is owned and operated by soccer player Ahn Jung-hwan and his wife Lee Hye-won. Referred to as the “Beckham of Korea”, Ahn has both the looks and the athletic ability. His wife is also well known as a former Miss Korea contestant. The name comes from Hebrew, meaning ‘After creating heaven and earth, and God saw that it was good.’ Tovou mainly offers Korean cuisine, with some dishes that offer fusion-style food that combines Italian and Japanese cuisine to suit the palates and tastes of foreign visitors. Easiest to order is the Korean course meal. The lunch special comes with porridge, kimchi, a salad, wheat pancakes, and yogurt cream shrimp as well as dessert. If you come in a big group, you can order a few dishes to share. Women enjoy the yogurt cream shrimp and pineapple smoked salmon, while men often order duck or nurungji stew (crispy, delicious rice that sticks to the bottom of the rice cooker). You can also try the hot and spicy octopus dish that is a favorite among Koreans.

[Visitor’s Information]
Address : 10-4, Naeson-dong, Uiwang-si, Gyeonggi-do province
Opening Hours : 12:00~22:00
Closed : on Sundays
Main Menu :
Lunch special 17,000 won, Tovou combo 25,000 won, Tovou of Choice (Course A) 35,000 won, Tovou of Choice (Course B) 50,000 won, Yogurt cream shrimp 23,000 won
Tel : 82-31-426-7001 (Korean)
Language : No foreign language available.
How to Get There : Take Subway Line 4 to Indeogwon Station, and go out of Exit 2. Take the regional bus No. 5 or 6 and get off at Baegun Lake (30-minute bus ride, buses depart every 30mins).

[Q&A about Star Restaurants]
Q: Can we meet stars at their restaurants?
A : The stars are rarely at their restaurants as most are busy broadcasting or are at other events. In most cases, their family, relatives, or acquaintances manage the restaurant. In other cases, the stars are the investors and hire professional managers to run their business. Gorilla in the Kitchen is a good example. Also, in these restaurants you will not find any props related to the stars. On the other hand, stars do show up at the restaurants sometimes. At Tovou, Ahn Jeong-hwan and his wife show up occasionally for magazine photos or interviews.

Q: Can we go to these restaurants any time?
A: Nowadays, these restaurants are open for lunch and dinner. In other words, instead of being opened all day long, they serve during the peak meal hours and are closed when the rush hour finishes. So, you can usually expect them to be closed between 3pm and 5pm. Be sure to check before you go.

Q: So, where do the stars usually go out to eat?
A: They go to restaurants near broadcasting stations for a quick meal between takes or for a dinner party with their staff afterwards. That way, they don’t have to travel far and it is convenient to go as a group. Young stars go to clubs, bars and restaurants in Apgujeong-dong or Cheongdam-dong. If you are lucky, you can see them and get an autograph from them.

Date 07/16/2009

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