As strange as it sounds, even though I am currently residing in Seoul, I have not quite scoped out all the greatest Korean restaurants here yet. It seems like it's a continuous hunt, trial and error, or MSG overdose. Then when you do find one where you want to give your own Michelin star rating, I tend to 'hand pick' these favorites and tuck them away in my back pocket. Yeah, I am kind of revealing my bad tendencies, hahaha. However, from this point forward I decided to start unraveling those very places that deserve to be noted for. I would like to begin with Mugunghwa.
'Mugunghwa', defined as hibiscus syriacus flower, & the national flower of Korea, rests on the 38th floor at the Lotte hotel in Myungdong. The first thing you notice upon entering, is the over-welcoming staff. I'm not sure if it's a 'hotel service' thing, but the staff seemed quite genuine and paid attention to every detail of their patrons. Ladies-you get your own mini stool for your handbags!
Bean curd with live crab, vinegar edible shoots & octopus
Two other girlfriends and I arrived with grumbling stomachs on a Wednesday afternoon. Yes, a bit starving hahaha. We ventured into their 7-course 'Apricot blossom' menu for KRW 60,000. Halfway through our meal, we were beginning to feel way too full. At the same time, anticipating what the next course had to offer. What can you say, women-we can always make room for food.
The items on their menu were not something unusual or too surprising with what I recognize in other Korean menus. Some folks may regard their food to be typical Korean food served in a formal setting. However, I would beg to differ with Mugunghwa. Although I may not be the expert when it comes to Korean traditional cusine, I think I may know just enough to appreciate the delicacy and the sincerity behind it. Everything from the bibim bop (mixed veggies on a bed of rice), to the Korean 'Hanwoo' beef, served with lettuce and assorted vegetables, was nothing too out of the ordinary. In fact, you may think that the portions are much smaller than what you may find at other local Korean restaurants for the fraction of the price.
Mushrooms served with cuttlefish & seafood, served @ the kings table
'Hanwoo' Korean marbled beef tenderloin served on a hot griddle with assorted vegetables, topped with garlic crisps
Ok, just had to take a photo of this vanity in the ladies room. Beautiful!
Aside from the beautiful presentation, the quality of the ingredients, and how each was specifially prepared & marinated, it's quite difficult to explain with words. It's the taste through your past experience with Korean food, that marks that feeling of comfort. I actually thought that the portions were very fair, and by the end of the course, I was pretty content!
One of my favorites was actually the 'hoddeok' dessert-mini hot cakes with brown sugar. Yes, you can find these on the street carts around Seoul for KRW 1,000 (approximately $1 USD). Although the bite size portion at Mugunghwa was a complete tease! hahaha. Yeah, I was quite tempted to ask for a few more. Who would have known that after a fabulous course, the most simple hoddeuk dessert was my fave. Only Sarah...
The 'hoddeok' dessert in the center, served with sweet potato mousse, assorted fruit.
(Please note not all the courses are not shown in this post).
1, Jung-gu, Sogong-dong 100-070, Seoul, Korea 서울특별시 중구 을지로 100-070
Inside Lotte Hotel-Myungdong, 38th floor
Euljiro 1-ga station, (line #2)
Exit 7 or 8, you will see Lotte hotel to your left