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La Yeon Reviews

La Yeon (“Celebration”) has been open since 2013, and is situated on the 23rd level of the Shilla hotel, at the very top of the building. As you would expect, the dining room has a beautiful perspective of the city, gazing out over the picturesque Namsam Park. Hansik (Korean) food is prepared in a way similar of a Japanese kaiseki dinner, with a variety of various kinds of dishes ending with rice as the last savoury course. Chef Sung Il Kim is responsible for the cuisine.

Tables are spacious and widely spread across the room, with pristine white tablecloths. There were two tasting menus to choose from: a shorter one for KRW 160,000 (£112) and a longer one for KRW 250,000 (£175). They were really accommodating in terms of being able to swap foods amongst these. In addition to a wide wine list that included lots of depth in the traditional areas of France, there was also a nice range of New World wines available, however they came at a high price due to the high markups. Christian Moreau Chablis 2015 was sold for KRW 100,000 for a bottle that can be purchased on the high street for KRW 22,140, Clos du Val Chardonnay 2013 was sold for KRW 175,000, which is more than twice the retail price of KRW 43,411 and Trimbach Cuvée Frederich Emile 2006 was sold for an outrageous KRW 320,000 for a bottle that can be purchased for KRW 43,411 in a shop. Additionally, premium wines such as Chateau Palmer 2006, which sold for KRW 1,100,000 for a bottle with a current market value of KRW 265,676, and Mouton Rothschild 1982, which sold for KRW 7,000,000 compared to its retail price of KRW 1,687,724, were available for purchase. On closer inspection, it can be observed that even the most expensive bottles have been marked up by more than four times their actual price.

Starting with seaweed crackers and dried dates, the meal progressed into a main course. The crackers (14/20) were really fairly careful in their construction. Next, a heated chestnut soup was served, which was coated with a coating of chestnut powder. This was unexpected but quite good, and the flavor of the chestnuts was very discernible (15/20) in the dish. This was followed by a cold pen shell salad with yuzu garlic sauce, which was served in a lovely manner. A kind of mollusk known as tairagi in Japan, pen shell tastes like a somewhat hard scallop with some delicious natural sweetness, with the acidity of the yuzu sauce providing a wonderful balance (16/20). Pen shell is also known as tairagi in other parts of the world.

Then there had sea bream and beef dumplings in mugwort sauce, which was delicious. Despite the fact that the latter seems like something out of a Harry Potter novel, it is really a fragrant plant with a somewhat bitter taste. The dumpling was excellent, but not particularly memorable; in terms of delicacy, it did not compare favorably with, instance, a dish at Hakkasan, but it was still acceptable (14/20).

Served on top of a bed of radish and cabbage, with a red bell pepper sauce and an oyster leaf garnish, the red mullet was delectable. There was a little trace of spice in the sauce, but it was so mild as to be indistinguishable, and the mullet itself was cooked appropriately, but it lacked the wonderful flavor that this superb meal is capable of delivering (about 14/20).

In this dish, tilefish (also known as amadei) was grilled and served with grilled aubergine, onion, and fried Korean Angelica, as well as a side salad dressed with sesame oil dressing. There was also a little plate of kimchi on the side, since no Korean lunch would be complete without some kind of pickle. Tilefish served at a high-end Japanese restaurant may be a lovely thing, with a faint sweetness and a delicate flavor that is similar to that of lobster. Rather than being particularly memorable, it was just good, with the other components serving as a decent companion and the kimchi not being unduly fragrant (14/20). I ate chicken with an onion and soybean sauce, as well as fried Korean angelica, which was delicious (wild celery). However, although the chicken was cooked adequately, it did not have a great lot of flavor, and the sauce was just adequate (a mere 13/20). She had sea bream with anchovies and red bean pepper paste, Korean mountain herb, radish, soya soup, and white kimchi with pear, all of which were delicious. The fish was good and well cooked, and the kimchi had a strong, punchy flavor (14 out of 20). Served with beef tartare and a variety of pickles, including garlic, the traditional rice dish was a hit with everyone. The meat had a startling lack of flavor (13/20), while the pickles were delectable.

An appetizer of red ginseng and rice was served with tofu ice cream, green bean purée, and red beans marinated in brown sugar as a pre-dessert. There will be no trepidation in the pastry areas of three-star French cooks at the prospect of this (12/20) competition, I believe. Cold cinnamon tea was served with a Korean rice cake stuffed with mugwort, red bean paste, walnuts, pine nuts, and a Korean orange known as hallabong, which was delicious. (12/20) This was a mild enough treat, with the walnut flavor coming through well.

Exceptional service was provided by a very knowledgeable female sommelier who had educated in Beaune. Every aspect of the topping up was flawless, and the workers spoke extremely excellent English, which was a big plus for us. In addition to a bottle of Guigal Gigondas between us, the bill amounted to KRW 273,999 (£192) per person. To be quite honest, this seemed like an absurd amount of money for what we received, while the location and service were both excellent. Even if you leave away the unreasonably high expectations created by the restaurant’s absolutely nonsensical three star ranking from Michelin, it was a nice enough lunch. However, this is an absurd amount of money for what we received, no matter how beautiful the view and how excellent the service were.

Cuisine Type: Korean


Address: 23F Shilla Hotel, 249 Dongho-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Phone: +82 2-2230-3367

Website: La Yeon Official Site


Michelin Stars: 3