Valentine’s Day Restaurants in Seoul
With Valentine’s Day coming up I decided to forgo a restaurant review for the month and instead I wanted to give you a comprehensive list of recommended places that you should take your date.
Guys, picking the right restaurant for Valentine’s Day is very important to your romantic wellbeing. And during this time, you should make a reservation. If you don’t have a place to take your beau on this day it is the equivalent of forgetting a special anniversary or birthday. You don’t want to be that guy. It is not enough to just pick the right restaurant. The café or bar is just as important.
And girls, it is the millennium. You are more than welcome to make reservations and give hints on the places you would like to go. If you would like, you can have the magazine opened to this article and just strategically circle the restaurants, bars, cafes, you would like to go. A heart or a star should be a good hint.
The restaurants on this list have a good mix of atmosphere and taste. In general, I am staying away from franchise places because everyone knows that they are options. I am staying away from hotels for the same reason, but I have to say that many of the hotel restaurants are perfect for Valentine’s day. If you are trying to impress your date, I would recommend heading there.
I’m going to divide up the restaurant recommendations by region.
My main criteria are that I’m focusing on places that have good atmosphere and service. Of course food is important, but I’m not picking places just for taste alone. There are plenty of places in Seoul that have great food, but the restaurants look like they are out of a third world country. I am also staying away from Korean food simply because there are so many high-end Korean restaurants. Adding them would simply overload the list. Go to the Korean Tourism sites for Korean restaurant recommendations.
With prices, I’m assuming that you are drinking alcohol.
$= expect to pay under 15,000 per person (but most cafes will be under 10)
$$=expect to pay 20-40,000 per person.
$$$= expect to pay 50,000 or more per person.
Apgujeong and Gangnam
Where to Eat
This is a place with a great sense of style. It has a very Asian upscale aesthetic to it. The lighting, the menu, and atmosphere make it great place to have a quiet evening contemplating thoughts of romance. The menu is Asian fusion and they have range of choices from noodles to sushi rolls. It is located near Designer Club in Apgujeong. $$. 541-1461. www.zenhideaway.com
La Pied is a home-style French Restaurant with upscale tendencies. What I mean by that is that their food lacks the high level of French sophistication that you may find in let’s say a Michelin Star restaurant. It’s the type of food that a French mother might make for a Sunday Dinner. They have dishes such as duck confit and stuffed pig’s feet. Their desserts are exquisite. I recommend their sorbet. $$. 511-2413.
dear chocolate has the perfect atmosphere for whispering sweet nothings into your love’s ear. The chocolate truffles and hot chocolate are superb. The modern styling with avant-garde furnishings make it a great place to get a light meal followed by a hearty helping of dessert. $$. 3446-7251.
Antonios in Apgujeong as authentic Italian food and the charming piano playing host will make you feel very special. The whole salt baked sea bass is enough for a family and the thin crust pastas are just like out of the old country. $$. 3443-4333.
Omakasi. Is the keyword for getting opulent sushi that tests the mettle of the chef. We are talking toro that melts on your tongue and scallop tops minced so fine that it feels like velvet in your mouth. Be sure to ask for Chef Ahn. $$$. 545-0023.
The menu is playful Asian fusion and the taste is mind-boggling. If you want a meal to excite the appetite then this is your place. I recommend the Beef and Mushroom Salad and the Whole Fried Fish. Go to Maebang Exit 5. $$. 529-8248.
Coffee, Wine, and dessert
This slow food café is a great place to relax after your meal. They have coffee, tea, spirits, and wine. The high ceilings and servers that are actually models. It is a great place to relax and gawk at the beautiful surroundings. $$. www.walkingslowly.co.kr. 02.544.3082.
The one on Rodeo was the first and I still think their gelato is the best in Seoul. Get a cup and go for a walk or get takeout to cool off later. $. www.gustimos.com
On the 6th floor of the City Cinema Building you’ll find a wine bar that’s perfect to start or end the evening. They have a wide range of wines and the sommeliers advice will steer you in the right direction. $$. 501-6962.
Hongdae and City Hall Areas
Where to Eat
What a view. Seoul from the 33rd floor is pristine. You are paying a premium for the view and the food is not too bad either. If you are worried about what to order, just get the Australian Filet Mignon coursed meal and just sit back and enjoy the sparkling skyline. $$$. www.topcloud.co.kr 2230-3000.
Get organic cuisine in an eclectic industrial space. This Hongdae joint is on the corner that is becoming a great food street. The food at the Black Sheep is quirky with interesting flavor combinations. The subdued lighting make it an ideal place to have a light meal. $$. 3143-0757.
It’s an upscale steak, wine, and pasta place that has been advertising fondue. I think fondue is perfect for Valentine’s day. If you agree I think is the place to go. They also do an excellent steak. $$. www.kunstbe.com 335-1139.
It’s a decent Italian place that has chocolate pizza. Yes, chocolate pizza that is topped with cheese, pistachios, and cashews. The pasta is not half bad either. $. www.spannew.com 757-0817.
Coffee, Wine, and Dessert
Aa Design Museum
Aa Design Museum is great for coffee and dessert. The coffee mugs are even well designed. Go there to see what I mean. $. www.aadesignmuseum.com 3143-7311.
Cacao Boom has…I think I should quote my friend, “chocolate that makes me want to squeal.” The Belgium style confectionaries are aphrodisiacs. $. www.cacaoboom.com. 3141-4663.
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If you are looking for a wine bar with a cat in a fuzzy bathtub, then you need to go to IAN. It is near Hapjeong Station and the wine bar is very kitsch. $$. www.andthewine.com 3143-1975.
Samcheongdong seems to be the place to go for coffee and dessert and my favorite place is J’s Kitchen. The cakes are homemade with all natural ingredients and the setting is delightful. $. www.jscake.com 742-4810.
Where to Eat
Villa Sortinos has quickly established itself as the top upscale Italian place in Itaewon that usurped the original Sortinos across the street. Sortinos has been consistent with its quality and service for a long time. The new venue has matched its sophistication with atmosphere.My favorites are the white pizza, the pork chop, and the risotto. $$. www.sortinos-seoul.com 553-9000.
Itaewon seems to be the mecca for Italian food in Korea. The stark aesthetics of the dining room complements the discerning menu choices such as foie gras with black caviar, capellini with truffle oil, and ginseng ice cream with candied wings. It is treat for the eyes and the tongue. $$. www.ola.co.kr 793-9003.
Hidden behind the Hamilton Hotel is where this gem has been for years. Another mainstay of Itaewon that has been giving its patrons refined fare in a legal setting. I recommend the lamb, the salmon, and the fresh baked bread. $$. www.geckosterrace.com/garden_english/home.htm 790-0540.
Bon et Beau
Over by the Cheil building is a new upscale French restaurant whose authentic cuisine has quickly found a rich following. They make a Caesar salad that Caesar would be proud to eat. My favorite so far has been the Glavlax Salmon Blini and the Lamb. $$$. 3785-3330.
The beautiful interior has large windows that overlook the dreary street. Now for some strange reason it makes the street look optimistic. This restaurant is a market and upscale bistro that is bold with flavor combinations. There is Spicy Pork Belly with chili jam, a wasabi and steak sandwich, and even a banana, cranberry, and maple syrup sandwich on the menu. $$. 749-9181.
Behind the Hamilton Hotel you will find this unpresumptuous French Restaurant that has the most amazing dessert tray in Itaewon. The desserts looks so well sculpted that the only utensil that seems fitting to eat it with should be a golden fork. The menu changes depending on available ingredients- a good sign that the chef is proficient. $$. 795-2465.
Coffee, Wine, and Dessert
Strawberry Rhubarb pie. Blueberry, Cherry, Pecan, and Lemon Meringue Pie. Oh, pies with a crisp crust that snaps under the weight of a fork. Oh, pies that hang over my head like a halo. Pies. Pies. Pies. Get a pie and take it home because the café is always packed. Actually, get two. 3785-3400.
Gluhwein is spiced mulled wine and Chef Christian Meilinger makes a great mug of it. And although he won’t say so himself, his desserts are divine. $. 794-7024.
19st. Neal’s Yard
This café looks like it belongs in Apgujeong, but I’m glad it is in Itaewon. They make good coffee and they have a wide range of dessert and brunch selections. $. 794-7278.
Behind the Hamilton Hotel, this candle lit bar has a wide wine selection and some excellent desserts. I recommend the chocolate muffin. I think all chocolate cakes should be warm and oozing. $$. 749-0717.
It is the headquarters for the Paris Croissant and Paris Baguette Empire. The shop below has a chocolatier, bakery, deli, and café. 2071-9505.