20 April 2017

La Yeon, South Korea — Seoul

La Yeon, South Korea — Seoul

When the Michelin Guide for Korea was released, only 2 restaurants were awarded with the highly coveted 3 stars and one of them is La Yeon. Serving tradition Korean royal food, expect to find refined food in the heart of The Shilla’s Hotel gorgeous space overlooking Namsan Tower. For lunch service, 2 set menu are available — we had the Ye priced at KRW98,000 with the beef add-on at an additional KRW45,000.


The meal started with 2 small nibbles that were crazy addictive — seaweed chips and dried red dates. I loved the sweet red dates and we agreed to a refill!


The first dish that we had was chestnut puree with chestnut shavings. While I do not usually eat chestnut, this sweet tasting puree version was easy to eat. Such a soothing start to our meal!


This sweet tasting chilled pen shell is nicely cut into strips and served with a yuzu garlic sauce. The slightly zesty yet refreshing sauce was a good complement to this cold salad dish.


The texture of the porridge was more sticky than the usual ones and is filled with minced beef, sea cucumber and slices of abalone. On the side is a cold kimchi soup filled with shaved ice to maintain its coldness. We quite liked the porridge but the cold kimchi soup was slightly shocking to our tastebuds though it was refreshing and whet our appetites!


The beef course is available at an additional KRW45,000 and we could choose from the sirloin, galbi or bulgogi and we went for the former two. We preferred the Korea Beef Short Ribs over the sirloin was it was incredibly tender that it easily disintegrates when eating. Marinated in a sweet soy sauce, the sweet meat jus that is released upon biting into it was especially lovely. The dish was elegant and refined, unlike other beef dishes that i’ve encountered.


On the other hand, the char-grilled Korean Beef Sirloin with pickled onion and seasonal vegetables came with a firmer meat that is cooked to medium. Based on the Chef’s expertise, he will decide on the doneness depending on the cut and quality of the meat used for the day. The tougher meat probably allowed us to savour the taste of the meat, but our vote still goes to the galbi.


The second main we had was the hotpot rice with vegetables and abalone. A small plate of marinated octopus is served on the side to be mixed in with everything else. I actually preferred the side dishes and soybean paste soup more than the rice itself the hotpot rice was rather one dimensional and plain tasting. The side dishes include marinated lotus root, black beans, burdock and white kimchi.


The milk pudding is topped with a scoop of strawberry sorbet, strawberries and strawberry syrup. The sweet and sour strawberries were tangy, icy and refreshing! The milk pudding was incredibly smooth and glided down our throats easily.


We ended the meal with traditional Korean desserts — the Sujeonggwa and mugwort rice cake. The drink is somewhat a cold cinnamon punch drink which I could taste the cinnamon spice in it.

We were only wow-ed by the Galbi dish (which we had paid an additional amount for), but the entire meal was very delicately put together and left us feeling complete. Perhaps with that slow and steady start — the chestnut puree and porridge, there was a good build up to the mains and it ended on a clean note as we washed it all down with a refreshing Korean tea. I would recommend if you’re looking for a posh restaurant with a good view and you’re willing to fork out some bucks for a refined Korean meal.

La Yeon is located at:
23F Shilla Hotel, 249 Dongho-ro, Jung-gu
I made my reservation via Naver here.

Date of visit: April 2017