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Michelin Guide launches first Seoul edition

A humble eatery offering vegetarian temple cuisine is one of 24 restaurants in Seoul to receive a Michelin star, in Michelin’s very first edition for South Korea’s capital.

Michael Ellis and the Michelin star honorees at the Michelin Guide Seoul 2017 launch ceremony © Michelin Seoul

Seoul’s edition was unveiled yesterday where it was announced that two Korean restaurants had received the much-coveted three stars rating.

Gaon in Seoul’s trendy Gangnam area district offers two multi-course menus, apparently based on the meals eaten by the kings in the Joseon Dynasty (from 1392-1910) and is priced at HK ₩180,000 (HK$1,298) each.

The guide praised Gaon for its “meticulously-prepared dishes” and commitment to promoting a “better understanding” of Korean food.

The other recipient was La Yeon, perched on the 23rd floor of the Hotel Shilla, which was cited for its contemporary twist on traditional Korean cuisine.

Twenty four restaurants in total were awarded a Michelin star and reflect Seoul’s fine dining ambitions but also more humble offerings such as Balwoo Gongyang which serves strict vegetarian food based on Korean Buddhist ‘temple’ dishes.

The Michelin Guide for Seoul follows on from other editions launched in Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore and affirms South Korea’s seat at the global gastronomy table.

“I think it’s widely seen as one of the hidden gems of world cuisine,” said Michael Ellis, the international director of Michelin guides.

“Seoul is a gastronomic roller coaster. There’s so many things going on: brining, pickling, fermenting, frying, barbequing, seasoning… great techniques.

“The richness of the selection here confirms that Seoul has emerged as one of the world’s most exciting and dynamic dining destinations,” he added.

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