Culinaria 12538 in Apkujung (technically the address is Sinsa-dong) re-defines modern French. Chef Darren and I thoroughly enjoyed a 7-course lunch at Culinaria for 40,000 won! (approximately $40, actually 5 courses, but if you include the palate cleanser, coffee and additional sweets-7). This just has to be the deal of the century in Seoul, because some of you may know that a plate of pasta usually ranges b/w 12,000-15,000 won!
With modest expectations, the meal was outstanding. Personally, I was impressed that lime and avocado was utilized in multiple courses (as it's a hard find in Seoul, and very $$). Presentation was inspiring, and service was respectable.
Funny story: we were running about 20 minutes late for our 1:30 reservation, and I called to see if it was ok. They soon informed me that because it's a course-style set menu, they do not hold reservations for more than 15 minutes. I pleaded and told them that a famous chef from Sydney will be dining there (on a serious note, this was really the only time we can eat here), and they seemed to accept that. We were seated right away, and the service was very attentive. They also served an extra main and topped our wine glasses, all compliments from the chef! Towards the end of the meal, the chefs were eager to hear Darren's thoughts...of course with a smile, he sent his positive feedback to the kitchen staff. I just think it's hilarious that I end up in these situations! How do I do it??? hahahaha. As they say, charm cannot be taught :)
Gangnam-gu, Sinsa-dong 651-9 2F, Seoul/서울특별시 강남구 신사동 651-9 2F
*a bit tricky to find, but it's near the Marc Jacobs store in Apukujung-the side street right by it (also near Dosan Park, & the Hermes store).
*the special 40,000 won deal is for lunch only
1st course: Avocado puree with blueberries, pistachio, salt, lime, rosemary olive oil, parmesan cheese
2nd course: Cucumber & asparagus puree with squid, radish, 'don namoo' herb
3rd Course: to the left, scallops with mushroom foam
to the right: squid ravioli with shitake mushroom consomme, black truffle, triple foam, & white truffle oil
4th course; main: Korean Hanwoo beef served with asparagus, mushrooms, potato puree, white truffle
My Main: Braised Jeju black pork belly with artichoke, asparagus, lentil ragout
An extra main-compliments from the chef! But I cannot remember the fish:(
The dessert: Strawberry sorbet with lime foam
The interior quite nice...small, but quaint, open kitchen, with a classic French flare