Inside the Grand Hyatt Hotel, there are now 4 fine-casual restaurants and a flower shop, forming the unusual, charming alley 322 Sowol-ro.
Taking the name from the actual street address of the hotel, the basement of Grand Hyatt has been transformed into an alley with 4 restaurants and a flower shop. Each of the restaurants, all small and friendly in appearance, succeeds in offering their own unique styles. Kauri for sushi and sashimi, the all new Steak House renewed from the former Paris Grill, Tappanyaki style cuisine at the Teppan, and finally the Tenkai Japanese izakaya are the shinning new stars at the hotel.
The hotel has stripped its former uptight and rather pretentious personality for a more contemporary and cozy atmosphere without losing the quality it's been known for. They go as far to say that the restaurants’ competitors are not longer the dining corners of other hotels—instead, they regard Gyeongnidan-gil as their main rival. Although seemingly impossible to compare this "alley" with Gyeongnidan, the izakaya Tenkai serves as a good example of how it in fact can. Skewers for 5,000 won, and Asahi Draft for 10,000 won, the prices are extremely welcoming for a hotel. And dismissing all doubts, despite such lowered price, each restaurant presents a combination of great ingredients with the focus on taste and techniques which level them off as fine-casual dining. For example, the fresh poultry used for the yakidori, the use of white charcoal or bincho-zumi (ubame oak) which even in Japan is considered the finest quality charcoal, steaks grilled from Pira Charcoal ovens (with the opening of 322 Sowol-ro marking the very first introduction to techniques using these special ovens) are among the many factors that showcase 322 Sowol-ro's dedication to quality.
Another pleasing factor here is the sushi. As those who are familiar with the area are aware, good sushi is impossible to find in Itaewon—trying out a place here can be an almost tragic activity, with unsatisfied taste buds and high price tags. Here, the Japanese eatery Kauri might have the answer many foodies have been looking for. Try the lunch sushi set priced at 50,000 won—it's not a cheap price, but definitely worth every penny considering its quality.
I don't think that it's extreme at this point to mention that Gyeongnidan, Sowol-ro 322’s rival, is bordering on failure. The privately owned, small and welcoming stores and restaurants have, unfortunately, long been overtaken by the food industry’s conglomerates—with expensive yet low-quality restaurants, chain cafés and bakeries lining up the streets up the hill, it is no longer an ideal path for visitors to walk up. Will Sowol-ro 322 attract its new generation of customers despite such locational hurdle? After my experience as a customer, I concluded that with combative enough strategy such mission is one that'll certainly be accomplished.
Kauri 02-799-8271 12:00-14:30, 18:00-22:00
Contemporary sushi bar for fresh seafood
Steak House 02-799-8273 12:00-14:30, 18:00-22:00
one of the best steaks in town, grilled with local charcoal in Pira Oven
Teppan 02-799-8272 12:00-14:30, 18:00-22:00
Teppanyaki grill, with ingredients like foie gras, lamb and lobster for a wide range of tastes.
Tenkai 02-799-8274 18:00-01:00
An izakaya for alcohol and skewers, yakitori, tuna tataki, chicken karaage, grilled Hanwoo beef tongue, etc.