Korean food goes high-end in Seoul
An autumnal menu included seared beef, marinated for eight hours and served with a soybean paste sauce and scallions; shitake mushrooms stuffed with shrimp, deep-fried in brown rice oil and served in warm chicken broth; and, for dessert, balls of chestnuts mashed and mixed with honey and cinnamon.
Orders are placed when the reservation is made (at least once business day in advance), rather than during the visit, as the labour-intensive dishes require a lengthy preparation time. Menus are available on the website, including thoughtfully set menus for vegetarians and diabetics.
Elbon the Table
Home of the self-appointed “crazy chef”, Hyun Seok Choi, the sleek and stylish Elbon the Table sits above a luxury clothing store in Gangnam. Choi is famous for taking risks with his food, and while the results can be hit-or-miss, the menu is always innovative and, at its best, astonishing. The menu of Italian-influenced dishes changes monthly and most give a hat-tip to Korean ingredients; a dinner might include rice porridge with bottarga (cured fish roe), quail egg and fried pig skin; Korean beef with soy sauce jelly; and foie gras with gochujang ice cream – gochujang is the spicy red chilli sauce that accompanies about 50% of Korean dishes.
More conventional offerings, like strip loin steak with five kinds of salt, are also on offer, but if the goal is to see where Korean cuisine is headed, a sense of adventure is advised.
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