Made famous by international superstar Psy (and his catchy horse dance), Seoul’s Gangnam district
is also known for its endless array of restaurants. Whether you’re looking for Korean classics or international cuisine with a twist, the capital
’s ritzy southern neighborhoods have something for every taste and budget. Here are our favorites.
Sobremesa’s head chef Edgar Quesada Pizarro takes dishes rooted in Spanish cuisine and combines them with his own innovations to recreate the country’s traditional recipes. With a primary focus on the quality and freshness of the ingredients, Sobremesa
offers some of the most flavorful Spanish cuisine in all of Seoul. Not to be missed are the acorn-fed jamón Ibérico
and Segovia suckling pig served with sous vide potato and roasted apple. The dessert menu is also worth exploring, and changes seasonally based on Spain’s popular holidays and festivities.
Restaurant, Central American
With the look and feel of a casual Manhattan bistro, MADE
is a great escape from the pretentious restaurants and gastropubs of the surrounding Apgujeong area. Offering a simple menu of made-to-order Italian-American classics such as spaghetti and meatballs, chicken Parmesan, and tiramisù
, diners can mix and match their orders based on their preferences. The beef meatballs are the real star here; prepared with local Hanu + grade beef, they are certainly an upgrade from the sub-par pizza parlor variety. Portions are generous, so go with an empty belly.
Restaurant, Japanese, Australian
Staying true to its name, the Sinsa-dong locale serves up incredibly inventive dishes
dreamed up by Chef Tae Hwan Ryu. Chef Ryu blends Korean ingredients with Japanese and Western culinary techniques gained from his past experiences in the UK, Australia, and Japan. Rated 27th of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, Ryunique
offers an incredible 23-course signature tasting menu that utilizes a play on various tastes, aromas, textures, and temperatures to entice all the senses. From Chef Ryu’s signature quail dish that is presented inside a smoke-filled bell jar to homemade cotton candy wrapped around panna cotta and plated on a picture frame, Ryunique is a place that has to be experienced to be believed.
Restaurant, Cajun, Seafood, American, $$$
Laissez les bon temps rouler
at Pier 17
, one of the few restaurants in Seoul that serves up authentic Cajun cooking
. Transport yourself to New Orleans as you sample specialties such as gumbo, jambalaya, and boiled seafood. If cocktails are your thing, try the Shark Attack, a blue margarita topped with a plastic shark that “bleeds” strawberry daiquiri when squeezed. Located just a block off Garosugil, Pier 17 makes for a great place to take a lunch break during an afternoon of shopping.
Breaking away from the traditional focus on fermented dishes and pungent spices, the contemporary Korean cuisine of Min’s Kitchen
takes a lighter approach. It uses a number of Western cooking and plating techniques and a minimal amount of seasoning to allow the flavor profiles of the incorporated ingredients to properly shine through. Opt to try the course menu, or go à la carte. The Bulgalbi Salad, succulent grilled marinated rib-eye set atop a bed of fresh greens, and the Assorted Pancakes – mushroom, lotus root, zucchini and fish jeon – are both excellent choices.
Brick Oven New York Pizzeria
Restaurant, Pizzaria, Italian, Central American, $$$
After spending several years mastering the art of the pizza in New York
, owners James Yu and Dan Cho decided to bring the Big Apple to Seoul in 2012 in the form of authentic pies. Since then, Brick Oven
has become the go-to spot for diners demanding something more from their pizza. Meat lovers will adore the Godfather, a concoction of Italian sausage, pepperoni, ground beef, and a “grand-slam secret sauce.” Brick Oven also offers vegetarian-friendly options, a slew of tasty sides (try the garlic fries!), and create-your-own options to please just about everyone.
As plant-heavy options continue to grow in Seoul, Bad Farmers
stands out with its selection of cold salads, hot salads, fresh pressed juices, and yogurts. The Avo Cobb salad – one of the restaurant’s stand out dishes – is made with romaine lettuce and topped with cherry tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, corn, olives, smoked salmon, roasted chicken and a choice of either sesame doenjang or blue cheese dressing. Like other items on the menu, it’s not just healthy, but hearty, too.
NY B&B - Burger & Bagel
Restaurant, Steakhouse, $$$
While Gangnam Station may be famous for its large franchises that serve up average food, there are plenty of gems that offer quality dishes, including NY B&B
. While the menu is expansive, it focuses primarily on the restaurant’s artisanal burgers, which are handcrafted from high-quality ingredients. Try the Wasaaabi???, a thick beef patty topped with pepperjack cheese, grilled onion, shiitake mushroom, and wasabi mayo for a meaty treat packed with heat. Or, for something a bit more surf-and-turf, go for the Bubba Gump, a perfectly grilled burger topped with blackened Cajun shrimp, American cheese, salad, and Cajun mayo. You really can’t go wrong here.
The Original Pancake House
Restaurant, North American
While the restaurant has more than 100 franchises all over the U.S., the Apgujeong location was The Original Pancake House
’s first outside the States. Classic dishes such as Dollar Pancakes, Banana Pancakes, and French Toast, along with imported items like Boyd’s Coffee and Daily’s Premium Bacon, not only taste good, but are sure to cure any North American expat’s homesickness. Like the ingredients themselves, the portions, too, are American, so order accordingly.
Jin Mi Pyongyang Naengmyeon
Restaurant, Korean, $$$
With over 20 years of experience, the founder of Jin Mi Pyongyang opened the restaurant’s doors in 2016. Savory and flavorful, Jin Mi’s cold noodles are the stuff of Korean food lovers’ dreams. The meat broth, made from beef brisket, beef shank, and pork, is crystal clear, while the noodles are delightfully chewy, providing a pleasant texture. Try the naengmyeon
with a side of boiled meat, made from pork belly, to complete this hearty meal.