The Michelin Group came to Seoul in 2016. This allowed some of the best restaurants in Seoul to get the prestigious Michelin star. The number of Michelin Star restaurants in Seoul has been growing every year. The Michelin Guide started in 1900 as a free guide to promote the tire company and included helpful information on roads, restaurants, and accommodation. Getting a Michelin Star is a huge deal for any restaurant. It brings with it notoriety and along with it a chance for a restaurant to raise its prices and gain notoriety. In the end, running a fine dining restaurant is costly and can have surprisingly small margins. This is why many fine-dining restaurants go all out to get that Michelin Star.
Jung Sik – 2 Michelin Stars
Those interested in trying traditional Korean food in a modern way, make sure to check out Jung Sik. The restaurant was opened in 2009 by Chef Jung Suk Yim. The restaurant is located in Gangnam and has three floors. The bottom floor is the bar and the next two floors are used for dining. You might need to book a reservation up to a month in advance. The restaurant offers incredible food, excellent service, and great wine matching. The most popular course is their 5-course meal.
4-course Choice Lunch – 40,000 won
5-course Choice Lunch – 80,000 won
8-course Tasting Lunch – 150,000 won
5-course Choice Dinner – 120,000 won
Tasting Dinner – 180,000 won
Address: 11 Seollungro 158-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Phone number: +82 2517-4654
La Yeon – 3 Michelin Stars
La Yeon has gotten 3 Michelin Stars for 5 consecutive years. The restaurant has very mixed reviews online to those that love it and to those that don’t consider it a 3 Michelin Star level restaurant. The restaurant has been open since 2013 and it is located inside Shilla Hotel (23rd floor). The views from here are amazing. Not only can you see downtown Seoul but also there is a great view of Namsam Tower and Lotte World Tower. The chef is Sung Il Kim and he has been there since their grand opening. La Yeon serves Hansik cuisine which is traditional Korean royalty food. Those that are interested in trying elegant Korean food made of Korean royalty should try La Yeon.
They have 4 tasting menus:
The Propriety – 98,000 won
La Yeon – 170,000 won
The Feast – 150,000 won
Shilla – 230,000 won
Address: Hotel Shilla, 249 Dongho-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul 100-856
Phone number: +82 2230-3367
Mingles – 2 Michelin Stars
If you are ever in Gangnam’s Cheongdam district, you will find one of the best modern Korean cuisine restaurants in Korea. Their chef, Mingoo Kang, blends European and Japanese styles into its Korean cuisine. The restaurant’s menu is constantly changing due to the seasonal products they use. However, the course menu typically involves reinterpreted classic Korean dishes using homemade Korean fermented sauces. The dishes are all served in beautiful Korean ceramic and brass bowls. Make sure you make a reservation which can be done online.
5 course lunch – 58,000 won
7-course lunch – 85,000 won
Address: 757 Seolleung-ro, Nonhyeon 2(i)-dong, Gangnam-gu
Phone number: +82 2515-7306
L-Impression – 2 Michelin Stars
L-Impression opened in 2018 and offers trendy modern Korean cuisine. The restaurant focuses on using local ingredients with different cooking techniques. It combines the best of French and Korean cuisine. In addition, the restaurant offers an interesting wine pairing as the sommelier mixes up traditional Korean liquor with French wine flawlessly. Their chef, Allen Suh spent 17 years working in Michelin-starred restaurants in the United States before opening the Korean tasting-menu in Seoul. The restaurant offers a beautiful view overlooking an urban park.
Luncheon menu comprised of original creations featuring locally sourced seasonal ingredients – 100,000 won
Tasting menu focused on aging and fermentation featuring locally sourced seasonal ingredients – 200,000 won
L’Accord Mets et Vins by Yanis Feral
A specially curated selection of wine & beverages adding an extra layer of flavor to each of the courses
Dinner 150,000 KRW
Lunch 90,000 KRW
Address: 5F, 24 Eonju-ro 164-Gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Phone number: +82 6925-5522
Alla Prima – 2 Michelin Stars
The dishes at Alla Prima are created by Chef Kim Jin-hyuk. He is known for using local and seasonal ingredients, attention to balance, and delicate sauces. The dishes are a new-style Italian fusion cuisine made in an open kitchen. The restaurant is located in a remote allay in the central part of Seoul.
Address: Nonhyeon-dong, 42-6, Seoul
Phone number: +82 2511-2555
Gaon – 3 Michelin Stars
Similar to La Yeon, Gaon has had 3 Michelin Stars for 5 years in a row. When it comes down to the best Michelin star restaurants in Seoul, the argument usually comes down to Gaon vs La Yeon. Similar to La Yeon, Gaon serves royal Hansik cuisine. The chef at Gaon changes his menus every season with the best seasonal ingredients. The dishes are well explained by the staff. However, the restaurant has no dining room. Therefore you must reserve one of their 5 private rooms. The chef is Kim Byung Gin who has worked at the restaurant for over 17 years.
Tasting menu – 300,000 won per person
Address: M Floor Holim Art Center, 317 Dosan-daero, Gangnam, Seoul
Phone number: +82 2545-9845
Kwon Sook Soo – 2 Michelin Stars
Those looking for modern Korean cuisine in a western style, look no further than Kwon Sook Soo. Their chef Kwon Woo-joong comes from a family of talented chefs. It offers Korean royalty food that is not too spicy, salty, sweet, sour, or bitter. The chef gets his ingredients from select producers with who he has personally developed a close relationship with in the past 6 years. You can get a seat at the bar where you can see the chef at work. The environment is mostly casual and relaxed.
Basic Menu – 100,000 won
8-course tasting menu – 150,000 won
Address: 27, Eonju-ro 170-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Phone number: +82 2-542-6268
BICENA – 1 Michelin Star
Inside Lotte Tower is the Signiel Seoul which is Korea’s tallest hotel. BICENA is an haute cuisine restaurant that specializes in contemporary Korean cuisine. It is located on the 81st floor. Therefore, it offers some of the best views of Seoul around. Their signature dish is their steak that is served with kimchi.
Address: 81F, 300 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul, Korea
Phone number: +82 1811-1870
Joo Ok – 1 Michelin Star
Joo Ok is a modern Korean restaurant that differentiates itself from others by serving small bites with enhanced acidity or small glasses of different kinds of vinegar. The concept was created by chef Shin Chang-ho. There are 30 types in stock and it is great for increasing a person’s appetite. Most of their ingredients are from Jeju Island. Their signature dish is their duck which is topped with shaved truffle on top.
Price range: 70,000-175,000 won
Address: 119, Sogong-ro, Jung-gu 3F, The Plaza Hotel, Seoul
Phone number: +82 25189393
Keunkiwajip – 1 Michelin Star
Those that love Korean soy sauce marinated raw crab will love Keunkiwajip. The soy sauce is made from a 100-year-old family supply. Their famous soy crab dish is made fresh every day. Therefore, there is no fishy smell to the crab. In addition, they have a delicious set of small Korean side dishes. The restaurant is located near Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul.
Address: 62, Bukchon-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03053 South Korea
Phone number: +82 2722-904
Restaurants in Seoul before 2016 could not get a Michelin star simply because it was not an area that was covered by Michelin. It has been over 5 years since Michelin has covered Seoul and some of the top restaurants in Seoul have a Michelin star. The gourmet Michelin Guide publishes a Seoul edition called “Stars for Seoul” every year. There is even a Michelin Korea where food critics visit Seoul to evaluate the restaurants featured in the guide for the following year. Michelin critics visit the restaurants anonymously. They evaluate the service, food, as well as ambiance. Seoul has many great restaurants that have a shot at getting that call from Le Guide Michelin informing them they will be included in the next Michelin Guide for Seoul.
Whichever restaurant gets a star will need to quickly upgrade their restaurant to accommodate the rush of diners they will get flooded with. Since these stars will be the first-ever for Seoul restaurants, it will be a huge deal in the restaurant/fine dining community. Michelin Guide ranks restaurants with 1 to 3 stars.
Getting a Michelin star is a great way for restaurants in Korea to raise investments from Korean investors. Thanks to Michelin coming to Korea, the Korean culinary scene is now on the map and continues to grow the global interest in Korean food in general. In addition, fine dining standards have also increased in Seoul and have allowed chefs in Korea to be more innovative and creative moving forward in hopes of getting that Michelin Star.