Breakfast at Lotte Hotel
1 Songong-dong, Jung-gu
Seoul 100-070, South Korea
Lotte Hotel Seoul
I had breakfast each day in the lounge on their club floor. That was located on one of the upper floors and had a very good view over the city. Reserved to guests on the club floors, it was popular but never crowded.
The day of these photos, I believe I had for breakfast some cereal with yoghurt, then some sausages, bacon and grilled vegetables. It was OK, but not marvellous. On subsequent days, I passed on the sausages, et al, and instead had the chef there make me a fresh omelette. That was much better. My only complaint was that they were rather slow with the coffee.
View from the hotel at night.
Street food in Seoul, South Korea.
A Starbucks Coffee in Seoul!
If you want a snack in Seoul, you have McDonalds or Starbucks Coffee of course, like everywhere else, but it would be a shame not to try the many little food stalls (called pojangmacha) in the streets of Seoul and their dishes do look appetising as you can see the food being cooked.
Food being cooked
There are skewers everywhere and very often they have odeng which is a kind of fish cake. Some other typically local Korean food is the sundae. It is not an ice cream but a kind of black sausage/black pudding/boudin noir made of steamed pig or cow’s intestine. Fried dumplings (Gunmandu) and rice cakes (Tteokbokki) are also quite popular.
Preparing the stall for lunch time
In the street stall below located near the French restaurant La Cigale Montmartre, they had sandwiches such as the original cheese dog (W4,000), tacos such as chicken taco (chicken lettuce, tomato, onions, cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream – W4,000) but also beef taco (same ingredients excepted for the ground beef instead of chicken). As beverages they had cola and cider (W1,000 each).
Cool guys doing the V sign
The food is pretty cheap as if you order a taco and the cider, for example, the whole thing cost W5,000 which is less than £2.50. As a bonus the guys making it are happy to pose for a picture:-)
If you are into sweet snacks, there is the hotteok that look like a sweet pizza with honey, sugar and nuts as toppings.
Peninsula Italian restaurant
Lotte Hotel, 1 Songong-dong | Jung-gu, Seoul 100-070
We ate a second time in the Peninsula restaurant at Lotte Hotel. This was mostly because by this time, we’d eaten quite a lot of Korean food and – even though it was good – we were just ready for a change and needed something nearby. It’s hard to get closer than a restaurant within the hotel you’re staying in, so we decided to choose amongst the options offered in-house. The Lotte hotel has Korean, Japanese & Italian restaurants, a French buffet (which didn’t look very French to me – unless dim sum has been reinvented as French cuisine) and a British pub. We decided on the Italian restaurant for a second time, as our first experience there had been decent.
Creamy pumkin soup
The meal started again with their excellent bread, with olive oil and balsamic for dipping. This time, instead of pizza, I opted for a soup (creamy pumpkin) which was recommended to me by my companion who’d taken it last time, followed by an Australian sirloin steak. We chose a bottle of New Zealand Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir, 2007 to accompany the meal. This was mainly out of curiosity – Cloudy Bay is well known for its sauvignon blanc and several other white wines, as is the Marlborough region of New Zealand in general. Increasingly though, pinot is being produced in Marlborough, so we decided to try it.
Australian sirloin steak
My pumpkin soup was fantastic – really very creamy and with an excellent sweet (but not too sweet!) pumkin flavour. It made me wish I’d tried it the previous time we ate here. The second course was an Australian sirloin steak, which was fantastic – perfectly cooked, slightly charred on the outside to give it lots of flavour, nice and pink on the inside retaining all its moisture and tenderness. Really an excellent piece of meat. I like the Korean habit of writing on the menu the origin of the main parts of every dish, as it helps the diner to make informed choices about what you’re about to order.
Cost and conlusion: the bill was 295,000 Korean won (about £145) for three starters, two main courses and the bottle of Pinot Noir. Not cheap, but considering the good quality of the meat, the wine and the excellent preparation of every dish, I consider that to be good value for money. If I’m ever back in this hotel, I would certainly eat this meal again.
Yao Ching Chinese restaurant
Seoul, South Korea
Yao Ching is a chinese restaurant in Seoul, Korea. It was about 15 minutes drive from the Korean Transport Institute (KOTI), and they seemed to be on the outskirts of the city. I went there for a working lunch. This was good as there were 5 of us, which allowed for taking a range of dishes to share, and also because 2 of us could speak Korean 😉
Jellyfish and pickled duck egg
The first dish was a slice of beef with jellyfish and pickled duck egg. The jellyfish is the pink shredded stuff in the photo, whilst the pickled duck egg is the thing that looks very slightly like an aubergine. Actually, it was all quite good. The jellyfish did have the sort of rubbery texture you might expect, but it had a surprisingly good flavour. Even if not something I necessarily want to eat daily, it was quite good. Likewise, the pickled duck egg was quite rubbery but again a good flavour. I would have no fear of trying either one again.
Prawns with shitake mushrooms & sea urchin
The same on my plate
Next up was a dish of prawns with shitake mushrooms and sea urchin. This was very good, with lots of different flavours. Definitely worth trying if you’re anywhere that does authentic (as opposed to western-style) Chinese food.
Sweet & sour pork
The sweet and sour pork was good. It was fried in a light tempura batter, which remained crispy even with the sauce. The sweet & sour sauce was good – not too sticky and not too sweet.
Butterfly prawns in chilli sauce & kau chi dumplings
The next dishes were excellent. These were butterflied prawns in a spicy chilli sauce, and some kau chi dumplings (pork & prawn) that you can see in the background. The dumplings were excellent dipped in a soy sauce – a bit like mini steamed dim sum. Both I’d certainly take again given the opportunity
Next up was a tasty chicken stir-fry with a variety of vegetables including bok choy, peas, etc. Again a very tasty dish, with a very good mix of flavours.
Stir fried vegetables & mantou
The last dish was was a range of stir-fried vegetables in a sort of chilli sauce. This was eaten with the light milk ‘bread’ called mantou. Really very good – the mantou provided a perfect foil for the vegetables, which might otherwise have been quite acidic. By this point, we were all feeling very full, but it was a good dish to end on.
Cost & conclusion: I was not the one paying for this meal. The range of different dishes and flavours were very good, and the service was prompt and efficient. I would certainly return if again in this area of Seoul.
La Cigale Montmartre
123-33 Itaewon-dong, Seoul
Outside of restaurant
La Cigale Montmartre is a French restaurant located in the Namsan (South mountain) area of central Seoul. There are many foreign restaurants in this area – above la Cigale is an Italian restaurant, and right beside is an American buger joint.
La Cigale – Montmartre got its name because the French chef wanted to introduce two styles of French cuisine in Seoul: the Mediterranean style – La Cigale – and Parisian style – Montmartre. The restaurant is famous for their mussels and they are cooked in many different styles.
The menu reflects the two styles of cuisine. For example you can have the tartare de 3 façons (saumon, tartare de boeuf aux anchois et Saint Jacques au citron vert – salmon, anchovy, beef tartare & lime scallops – W24,000), the tarte salée de 3 façon (tarte feuilletée aux escargots, tuile parmesan au jambon cru & mesclun, quiche – puff pastry with snails, parmesan crisp with salad and prosciutto quiche scallops – W35,000), the foie gras de 3 façons (terrine mi-cuite, escalope de foie gras poêlé aux pommes, en crème brulée – foie gras terrine, one slice pan fried with apple and foie gras custard cream – W35,000), the traditional soupe à l’onion du bistrot (onion soup – W12,000), the salade niçoise (olives, thon, anchois, oeuf, tomate, poivron, laitue – olives, tuna, anchovy, artichoke, egg, tomato, lettuce – W16,000). Then we have grilled dishes like the filet de boeuf grillé et escalope de foie gras poêlée (grilled beef tenderloin with pan seared foie gras, 150gr of Australian beef – W40,000), the entrecôte au grill, sauce bleu, poivre vert ou beurre maître d’hôtel (grilled ribeye, blue cheese, lemon butter or green peppercorn sauces, 200gr of Australian beef – W35,000), the T-bone steak en marinade courte puis grillé, beurre d’herbes au citron (T-bone steak in short marinade and grilled, herbs lemon butter, 400gr of Korean beef – W38,000), the Côtelettes d’agneau grillées marinées, ail, zestes de citron et huile d’olive vierge (lamb shop marinated with extra virgin olive oil, roasted garlic, lemon zest, 3 pieces of New Zealand lamb – W40,000) or the escalope de saumon sur le grill, béarnaise et garniture du moment (grilled salmon steak with béarnaise sauce and daily garnishes, Fresh Norway salmon – W27,000). Beside the various kind of mussels, their signature dishes which are the quenelle de volaille à l’ancienne, bisque et gambas flambées (chicken quenelle old fashion style, crustacean sauce and flambed prawns, Korean chicken – W26,000) and the tarte de boeuf coupé au couteau et préparé par nos soins, frites du bistrot (bistro style steak tartare, chopped raw beef, served with French fries, 150gr of Australian beef – W35,000). Add a 10% VAT to the prices as they do not include it.
La Cigale placemat
Overview of the table
Trio au foie gras
The three foie gras (terrine, pan fried and crème brûlée) were actually very good. The bread that accompanied them was a bit hard and tough to eat, but the foie gras itself was pretty good. My favourite, naturally, was the pan-fried I’m a little less convinced by foir gras crème brûlée, which comes out tasting somewhat like a crèpe. Overall though, it really was quite decent. The mussels were also very good, with a sort of cream and bacon soup that tasted rather like a carbonnara sauce. The meal was accompanied by a bottle of the house red wine.
Cost and conclusion: It was 146,000 Korean won (about £72) for the trio of foie gras, salmon, two bowls of mussels and a bottle of red wine which fed four of us. Perhaps still not that cheap for Seoul, but considering the foie gras, was overall a reasonable price.