The search for a French gastro pub in Seoul can seem almost futile, which was even more so the case back in 2010 when Louis Cinq opened its doors. Rated by Zagat Survey in 2012 and featured in Korea’s Blue Ribbon in 2013 and 2014, the restaurant is well known by Koreans, many of whom enjoy the restaurant for its combination of wine, food and ambiance. (Some would argue that the same recognition doesn’t extend as far in the non-Korean communities). The cuisine itself draws inspirations from France and Spain and attempts to recreate dishes from that part of the world by offering poached eggs with jamón, terrine and onion soup. Chef Lee You-suk, who’s developed a close relationship to many of the restaurant’s visitors says, “We consider taste and service to be equally important. Having nice food and feeling warm and happy thanks to the friendly service are good enough. The interior design and other formalities mean so little compared to the other things.” After studying at the Department of Food and Nutrition at Eulji University until 2006, Lee left to travel in Loire, France. On his way to the hotel from the airport, however, he got distracted and lost all his luggage and money. With nothing but a few Euros and his passport in his pocket, he turned to a Korean church in Paris. Out of gratitude for all their help, Lee became a volunteer-cook for the church—further inspiring his culinary aspirations. While in Europe, Lee worked his way out of his financial troubles and managed to work at the three-Michelin-star restaurant, Astrance, and then in a butcher shop in Spain, where he didn’t know the language but slowly became acquainted with all the names of the meats. Upon returning to Korea, his friends strongly discouraged him from starting a restaurant in such uncertain economic times. Last year, he made it onto Forbes Korea’s 2030 Power Leaders list in the Food and Wine category for his work in introducing the gastro pub culture to Seoul and his progressive culinary dishes.