Trip report Seoul

Thought I’ll drop this in case people head to Seoul and are looking for recommendations. Report from trips to Seoul in 2021. Food scene overall is fantastic, wines are prohibitively expensive given the import tax. I packed my own wines and paid reasonable corkage at most places. Few places that come to my mind.

Miro Sikdang: The insiders place where the all the chefs run to eat, now featured in 50 best discovery, is a must visit. Hard to get to, a good 50 minute away from Gangam, up a hill on a narrow windy road. Their beef tartare is to die for, so is the pork with abalone or their take on traditional bulgogi and the seafood pancake is worth a mention too. The wine list is pretty decent. Got a bottle of Comando G at a retail price in the US. Can’t wait to return.

Passione: Local friends suggested this spot for a double date and what a pick it was. French cuisine executed remarkably well with fresh ingredients. I could have been in Paris or Lyon enjoying the food. The chef decides the menu on the day of, writes in a chalk board and to pick options on the four course meal. Friendly ambience with very reasonable corkage. The bottle of Fourrier CSJ 2010 I brought all the way from NYC, paired remarkably well. Highly recommended.

Jue: Set in a traditional yet elegant and refined place in Yongsan that serves cantonese food. Having visited multiple times, everything in the menu was great, though the highlight was me was the pecking duck and pork bbq. The dim sum list is extensive and quite good overall. They have tasting menu, including a vegetarian one and a-la carte menu. Corkage was cheap here as well, brought two bottles of Riesling (Keller GG and old Prum Auselse) to share with friends. Highly recommended.

Mingles: Michelin ratings for non-European restaurants (for me) is always a non-reliable guide and this squares in line with how the restaurants are viewed and rated: ambience, service, cooking technique and presentation Mingles gets these right. The setting lovely, tucked away in a quiet street in Gangam. Interior decor is modern, yet warm with plenty of natural light and wood usage. Service is professional and not intrusive. The cooking was using seasonal and best ingredients using mirage of techniques. But there’s hardly a flavorful or a memorable dish. Disappointed and an easy pass.

Knock-knock: Felt bad for the chef as we are the one of the two tables on the night as it was peak COVID. The six course meal was nicely executed, taking inspirations from around the world. Was surprised to see their take on a taco, in an Italian inspired restaurant. Their dumplings (ravioli) was the highlight of the menu along with the pastries. The corkage was very reasonable and a bottle of Ulysse Collin BdB was wonderful with the entire course. Might visit if I return to the city.

Other suggestions:

Isigny sainte-mere for croissants in Hyundai department store
Ganga for Indian food if you are around Seoul financial center


Thanks for these! I’m in Seoul 1-2 times a month for work (and I lived there for a few years), I’ll go check them out.

I’ll be in Seoul next month and part of my travel is to indulge in Korean food. I already have a list of foods that I want to try like Tteokboki, Gamjatang, Naengmyun, and more… anyway got this list from (pic uploaded below) but I don’t have any idea yet about the restaurants. Thanks for this list!

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Do you know what part of Seoul you’ll be staying in? It’s a big city so that would be helpful to guide any potential recommendations for stuff you want to try.

I’ll be staying in Myeongdong :slightly_smiling_face:

If you’re staying in Myeongdong, the only thing that you must absolutely eat is the kalguksu (knife cut noodles) at Myeongdong Kyoja. There are several imitators so make sure you go to this one:

For naengmyun, normally I would recommend Bongpiyang for first timers and then work your way up to meatier broths but since you’re on the north side of the river, you might as well go straight to Woolaeoak. Although most Korean BBQ places will have naengmyun on their menu, it’ll invariably be gummy, sickly sweet stuff made from packets, so you need to find a place that has a reputation for making Pyongyang-style naengmyun from scratch to really understand what this dish is about.

It’s impossible to have bad fried chicken in Korea. Just order from any one of the big name franchises and you’ll be okay. It’s what all the locals do anyway.

Can’t speak much to the fine dining stuff as so much has evolved in that area since I last lived in Seoul. I do know Seoul has a claim to the liveliest sushi omakase scene outside of Japan, and people have recommended Sushi Mer near Myeongdong as a hidden gem that you can actually get a reservation.


Sam and others, any advice on restaurants or food-oriented destinations on Jeju, or Busan area? Looking at being in each for one day. Thanks!

Unfortunately I’ve never lived full-time in Busan or Jeju and it’s been more than ten years since I visited either so I’m not as familiar. But assuming it’s your first time in Busan, definitely hit up Jagalchi market and get hwe (sashimi served Korean style) or grilled kkomjangeo (hagfish).

Anyway, if you don’t mind me asking, why only one day in each? Both are big places and I tend to think you would get more out of your time by picking one and staying there for two days, instead of trying to do just one day in each, especially since Jeju will involve either a ferry or a flight.

Thanks, Sam, it’s a cruise so the itinerary is set. (2 days in Hong Kong - Jeju - 2 days in Incheon/Seoul - Busan - Fukuoka - Nagasaki - Kagoshima - 2 days in Osaka/Kyoto - Tokyo)

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Thank you, Sam! :heart:

Hi Brad and Sarah

I’m living in Jeju and I’m often in Busan and Seoul. I concur with the list in the previous thread, except that I believe Mingles is the best fine dining of Seoul. Korean food was never fully supposed to be fine dining as in western culture and so a ‘fine meal’ can feel leveled with what you might see at other restaurants, especially the ones catering to Buddhist “temple food” — the ideology itself is not far of from the new nordic philosophy of seasonal ingredients and preserved versions of these.

Busan and Jeju are both known for very specific cuisines and cultures. Busan is by the sea, and the harbor is gigantic, so as previously recommended, the Jagalchi market is the best solution and the nearby Gamcheon village. The local eats are Dwaechi-Gukbap, a pork broth of spring onions and sliced pieces of steamed pork, and the other is grilled clams (naturally there are other dishes, but these are my favorites).
Jeju people are fishers and farmers. The island is known for its Haenyeo who catches snails and sea-urchins amongst other things. For a one or two days here with the cruise, I’d recommend either a hike up Hallasan, a visit to Seongsan Ilchul Bong, or head south to Seogwipo. If you need specific tips for restaurants just send me a DM and I’ll help. Got heaps.

For wine… The import tax makes wine here twice as expensive as in the states, so I really can’t recommend focusing on that stuff here. I myself bring back a dozen bottles every half year from my cellar in Denmark and then I cherish them when I’m back in Korea.


Much appreciated, thanks.

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Are there any Korean exclusive soju’s I should bring back from Seoul? I think I’m going to bring my wine suitcase.

Andong is the town that is the best known for traditional soju, and there are two distillers in Andong who bear the title of “Korean Food Master”, which is a recognition bestowed by the Korean government for noteworthy artisans in traditional culinary fields. One is Park Jae-Seo, and the other is Jo Ok-Hwa, whose son has been running the distillery after her passing. They’re a little funkier than the modern craft sojus that are more widely available (Hwayo, Won, Toki, etc.). I don’t believe either of them is imported in the US, but I’m pretty certain at least one of the two is sold at the duty free stores in Incheon airport. Look for these white porcelain flasks. First one is Park Jae-Seo, the second is Jo Ok-Hwa.




Amazing! Thank you, I will definitely try to get to the airport early at least to look for them.

I’m eager to hear all about your trip to Seoul. It’s a city filled with a rich blend of history, culture, and modernity.

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@B_Davies, if you discover the location of traditional soju at the duty-free stores in Incheon airport, please share your findings.

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We flight out in a week!

I want to add this Soju by Park Jae-So that SamKwak wrote about. You may notice the bottle as it’s very distinctive. Mingles has it added to their traditional alcohol pairing. Some of the Andong Sojus are, as Sam writes, very different in the way that they may be oxidized in claypots like Hwayo and therefore have a rounder taste than regular Soju, or have been subject to extended aging in oak barrels that gives a ‘whiskey’ feel. So the extremes are far apart. There are liquor shops here and there that stocks them.

If you’re adventurous, a simple nighttime trip to a convenience store can be interesting, as most regions of the country has their own distinctive Soju. I’m biased however, as a Jeju person that i think Hallasan is best;

This is interesting, I never stopped to see what brand of the soju I am drinking. I mostly see Jinro when I visit convenience stores in Seoul.

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