Some say that once you study abroad in Paris, it destroys you for life. Part of that reason is the country's culinary artistry which often tops lists when we talk about must-have cuisines. The growing number of exchange students and travelers to the country get glossy eyed just talking baguettes, cheeses and charcuterie. To meet those needs are these praised French restaurants which offer some authentically French food to French inspired to French with a Korean twist. French food in Seoul's not limited to Seorae Village anymore. Bon appetit!
One of Seoul’s most noted contemporary dining restaurants, Soigné is located in a quiet residential area of Seorae Maeul, the French district. The open kitchen with its horseshoe shaped configuration enables any table to view its elaborate and intense cooking to the full—in fact, owner and head chef Jun Lee calls it "the stage." The menu rotates every 3 to 4 months and always incorporates a story. Themes ranging from movies to seasons guarantee a rare treat for your palate. The chef's detailed discourse on the food during its preparation draws the patrons in to listen avidly, something not often seen in most restaurants here. The best of Soigné can be seen in its full course dinner, which lasts 2 to 3 hours. By the end of it all, you’ll be full and yet feel the wistful longing for more.
The word brasserie conjures up worn but polished counters, nonchalant mustachioed servers and delicious, simple French cuisine served unpretentiously at reasonable prices. Maison de la Catégorie gets almost all of these right (maybe not the mustaches, but we’ll be reasonable). Unlike many of the fine dining establishments that fill Cheongdam, they focus on simple, filling dishes and familiar dessert favorites. Their shrimp soufflé and lamb are both excellent entrée selections, and the ice-box cake layered with cream and cookies is wildly popular (with good reason). About that atmosphere: Maison de la Catégorie is more than a corner brasserie. It’s beautifully appointed, with high ceilings and an eye-catching terrace. Well-arranged lighting guarantees a cozy dinner atmosphere, though of course day-lit meals or drinks are just as attractive in this space. In fact, one of the world’s most renowned interior architects, Adam Tihany, was involved in the design.
If you’re ever in the mood for a sumptuous French feast, with your meal enhanced by a view of tranquil Anguk-dong during your meal, there’s "bien-être" (stylized without capital letters). The kitchen is headed by Chef Park Min-jae, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu and worked at Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. In the modern space, designed by architect Cho Min-suk, and with food by Chef Park Min-jae served in tableware designed potter Kim Yeong-hwan, all of the separate elements come together harmoniously for both a satisfying taste and ambiance. bien-être is where famous French brands entertain for major events in Seoul. It has the advantages of an elegant interior, and pleasant and relaxed service. The prix-fixe lunch is very reasonably priced, with two different options available for 36,000 won and 55,000 won. Another advantage is that you can reserve a day in advance and customize a course menu of some of the chef’s special selections for either 165,000 or 220,000 won.