Valentine Times Day Restaurant Guide 2010Thursday, January 28, 2010
Guys, picking the right restaurant for Valentine's Day is very important to your romantic wellbeing. Be sure to make a reservation. If you don't have a reserved, this is the equivalent of forgetting her anniversary, birthday, or name. You don't want to be that guy. It is not enough to just pick the right restaurant. The café or bar afterwards is just as important.
The restaurants on this list have a good mix of atmosphere and taste. In general, I am staying away from franchise places. I am staying away from hotels as well, but I have to say the hotel restaurants are perfect for Valentine's day. 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 that 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.
The list is divided by regions and with prices; I'm assuming that you are drinking alcohol.
*One special thing to consider. This year, Seollal (Lunar New Year) falls on Valentine's Day so some restaurants will be closed and many people will be traveling for the holiday. Please check restaurants are open and consider celebrating a day early.*
$= 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
Antonios in Apgujeong has 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. $$. 3443-4333.
dear chocolate has the perfect atmosphere for whispering sweet nothings into your love's ear. The chocolate truffles and hot chocolate are superb. The modern styling with avant-garde furnishings make it a great place to get a light meal followed by a hearty helping of dessert. $$. 3446-7251.
The idea of sushi and sashimi is sexy. It must be the fact that it's naked. Gazen near Gangnam Station has great Japanese style food. Signature dishes include Okonomiyaki (10,400) and the Tuna and Avocado Maki Roll (8,400). $. 532-4428. http://www.gazen.co.kr
Chef Eo studied Italian Cuisine in Rome for 10 years before returning to Seoul to bring the authentic Italian experience to Seoul. His gnocchi is divine and so is his foie gras. Inside the house, you'll feel right at home in the warmly lit rooms and you will be impressed with his Grand Prix menu. Outside in the covered patio, you'll get simpler fare, but just as delicious. $-$$$. 02-3443-1970
Located near Gangnam Station is a fabulous winebar that is owned by a French Sommelier. Here you will find perfect pairings of wine and food. There is a mix of Italian and French influences for the food, and you'll find a good value-for-money in the wine menu. The sheik atmosphere has several private nooks for conversation. $$$. 555-9925.
"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.
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. $$. 541-1461. www.zenhideaway.com
Coffee, Wine, and dessert in Gangnam, Apgujeong
The one on Rodeo was the first and I still think their gelato is the best in Seoul. Get a cup and go for a walk or get takeout to cool off later. $. www.gustimos.com
느리게 걷기 This slow food café is a great place to relax after your meal. They have coffee, tea, spirits, and wine. The high ceilings and servers that are actually models. It is a great place to relax and gawk at the beautiful surroundings. $$. www.walkingslowly.co.kr. 02.544.3082.
Hongdae and City Hall Areas Where to Eat
Primo Bacio Baci
It means "kiss, kiss" and it has been a long time favorite of university students. The food is creative and inexpensive and they have a nice selection of wines that won't break the bank. I can't promise there won't be a line out the door, so be sure to get there early. $. 323-0098.
It's an upscale steak, wine, and pasta place that has 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. $$. www.kunstbe.com 335-1139.
It's a decent Italian place that has chocolate pizza. Yes, chocolate pizza that is topped with cheese, pistachios, and cashews. The pasta is not half bad either. $. www.spannew.com 757-0817.
Coffee, Wine, and Dessert
Aa Design Museum
Aa Design Museum is great for coffee and dessert. The coffee mugs are even well designed. Go there to see what I mean. $. www.aadesignmuseum.com 3143-7311.
Cacao Boom has…I think I should quote my friend… "chocolate that makes me want to squeal." The Belgium style confectionaries are aphrodisiacs. $. www.cacaoboom.com. 3141-4663.
플로랄 고양이 N∀I If you are looking for a wine bar with a cat in a fuzzy bathtub, then you need to go to IAN. It is near Hapjeong Station and the wine bar is very kitsch. $$. www.andthewine.com 3143-1975.
On Hapjeong's Café Street, you'll find a French Bakery where you can rent the oven, use the equipment, and have the space to make your beau your own cake. $. http://cafe.naver.com/lefour. 02-326-6218
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.
Itaewon and City Hall
Where to Eat
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. $$$. 3785-3330.
Chef Meili There are so many options at Chef Meili. You could pick out some house-made artisan sausages or cold cuts and make your date a delicious dinner or you could go inside and enjoy a candlelit dinner especially made for Valentine's Day. $$. 794-7024.
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. $$. www.geckosterrace.com/garden_english/home.htm 790-0540.
The beautiful interior has large windows that overlook the dreary street. Now for some strange reason it makes the street look optimistic. This restaurant is a market and upscale bistro that is bold with flavor combinations. There is Spicy Pork Belly with chili jam, a wasabi and steak sandwich, and even a banana, cranberry, and maple syrup sandwich on the menu. $$. 749-9181.
This has become of Seoul's most popular restaurants because it sticks to its principles. They make almost everything in-house and they place very high importance on service and quality. The atmosphere has an artist's touch and everything about the place will leave a deep and lasting impression. I recommend the coursed menus. www.ofoodart.com 02.797.6420
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. $$$. www.topcloud.co.kr 2230-3000.
Villa Sortinos has quickly established itself as the top upscale Italian place in Itaewon that usurped the original Sortinos across the street. Sortinos has been consistent with its quality and service for a long time. The new venue has matched its sophistication with atmosphere.My favorites are the white pizza, the pork chop, and the risotto. $$. www.sortinos-seoul.com 553-9000.
The authentic Bulgarian dishes in an atmosphere that reminds of a garden is a perfect romantic place to go on Valentine's day. The spinach rollada dish is the perfect starter and they have many couple sets of meals so you can share. The wine prices are reasonable, so have a bottle or two, and finish your meal with homemade yogurt topped with honey. $$. 02 749-0600
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.