Fine Dining in Style

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Fine Dining in Style
Sihwadam & Heaven on Top

Written and photographed by Daniel Gray

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[box_info]Sihwadam | 시화담    ▶ Insa-dong area[/box_info]

Sihwadam is the ambitious fine dining concept from restaurateur Park Byeong-il. Park is well known for his franchise ox-bone soup restaurants, which can be found all over the country. His new concept is to present the poetry (si), flowers (hwa), and story (dam) of Korean food in bold and artistic ways. The modern and stylish atmosphere of the restaurant adds a Zen calm to the meal. And in the evenings you will be lulled by the beautiful sonata of Korean strings played by a gayageum performer. As for the food, each course is presented on rustic Korean pottery, and the plating has a naturalistic and floral motif. Their take on the Korean-style crepe is a thin green pancake covered with organic sprouts and seafood and dusted with Parmesan cheese. It comes with a dropper for applying the sauce. The elegant presentation of the steamed rice cake sandwich with bulgogi, served on a classic Korean ink blotter table, reveals the skill and the eye of the chef. One of the best dishes of the day was the kimchi carbonara spaghetti, which was a creamy blend of tart kimchi, egg, bacon, cream, and squid ink noodles. After many different artistic courses of Korean food, a traditional setting of Korean vegetable side dishes served with pungent bean stew and rice finally came out. For dessert was a tart omija tea. At Sihwadam the journey through Korean food is like a trip through a well-curated art gallery. It is a good meal that will leave you satisfied.

 

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Sihwadam | 시화담

FYI>
T. 02-738-8855, www.siwhadam.com
Hours: 11am–3pm, 6pm–10pm
Price: KRW 35,000–120,000 a person
(152 Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울시 종로구 인사동 152)

GO>
Jongno 3-ga Station 종로3가역 (Line 1, 3, 5), Exit 5


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[box_light]Heaven on Top | 헤븐온탑  ▶Samcheong-dong area[/box_light]

In search of a good luncheon spot, I meandered over to the stylish Samcheong-dong area. My agenda was to find a good date spot that had a good lunch selection and good coffee so that my girlfriend and I could eat there and then go back to work reenergized. Heaven on Top almost fits the criteria. The café/restaurant is well-lit, modern, and upscale with its marble tables. Their fine selection of teas and fine porcelain tea pots and cups give it a British flair. The restaurant offers brunch food, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. The breads and desserts are made in-house, and the carrot cake is one of the best ones I have had, with rich, thick, and sweet cream cheese icing to go along with the spiced layers of cake. Their ricotta cheese blueberry cheesecake is more like a stuffed turnover. The pancake is very plush and filled with a good amount of cheese and blueberries. To accompany the pancake were two slices of bacon, some scrambled eggs, and yogurt topped with granola. Also, if you come in before 1pm on weekdays, you also get a coffee. For only KRW 13,500, this is a good deal—especially in the Samcheong-dong area. We also ordered their grilled cheese sandwich, which came on a light-yet-thick focaccia bread with herbed mayonnaise, rucola lettuce, and roasted tomato. There were two cheeses on the sandwich: one, a melted emmental and the other (sadly) a yellow, processed cheese slice. Well, I guess it was okay for KRW 8,500. My one other problem with this place is the speed of service. It took almost 35 minutes to get the food, so I couldn’t leisurely enjoy the experience. Hopefully this will improve. Overall, I think Heaven on Top is a great dining choice. The food is creative and well prepared.

 

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Heaven on Top | 헤븐온탑

FYI>
T. 02-722-2510
Hours: 11am–11pm
Price: KRW 6,000–20,000 a person

GO>
Near Samcheong-dong Maple Tree House.
(35 Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul ㅣ서울시 종로구 삼청동 35)


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