South Koreans are extremely proud of their heritage and their history; many of the biggest tourist attractions are the beautiful palaces, shrines, and temples through the country. A large part of Korean history is based on the Korean Royalty, with the last king ruling until 1910. So even though we know King’s eat well, it makes you wonder what Korean royalty was actually chowing down on in the palaces. Lucky for us, there are a few places who offer this traditional royal cuisine, one of which is Seokparang (who made it into the Korean Michelin Guide).
125 Hongji-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, S. Korea
Phone: +82 02 395-2500
Hours of Operation: 12:00 – 15:00 / 18:00 – 22:00 (reservations required)
Open Year Round (except Seollal, Lunar New Year Day, Chuseok, and Mid-Autumn Moon Festival)
Valet parking available (₩3,000)
The restaurant is tucked away from the touristy parts of the city and the building is in the Joseon traditional “hanok” style. The historical structures were slowly constructed from pieces of Deoksugung Palace, Unhyeongung Palace, Seonhuigung Palace and Yi Wan-yong’s villa and the main restaurant is annex of a home where King Sunjong was born.Seokparang, the restaurant first opened in 1993 and is committed to using top quality seasonal ingredients. All of the meals here are served in a set, there’s no way to order a la carte. The royal meals cost a pretty penny with sets ranging from ₩95,000 to ₩155,000 (Lunch sets are more affordable and range from ₩55,000 to ₩110,000).
When we arrived, we were shown a small private room and the table was set very nicely. Throughout the meal, I was really impressed with the service, the wait staff was very attentive and made sure to explain each dish as they were brought it. I also had a lot of fun photographing each dish, they were definitely plated with care.
We were fortunate enough to have 4 people, so we were able to try 1 of each set. Here is a run down of most of the dishes we had.
The only difference between Chiljupan and Gujupan is the number of compartments in the serving dish. Chil means 7 and Gu means 9. Each compartment has a different vegetable and in the middle there are some small rice pancakes (more like crepes). I was surprised that the pancakes were cold, but they were surprisingly tasty once you filled them with the different vegetables and rolled them up like a burrito. Don’t forget to dip them in the slightly sweet but tart mustard sauce!
Green Bean Noodles
This sounded very weird to me, but it looked really tasty with the completely transparent noodles, mushrooms, green onions, and bean sprouts. The noodles had an almost jello like texture but a with a seafood and sesame oil flavor.
Mung Bean and Oyster Pancake
Korean pancakes are always a tasty snack. The Oyster pancake was really nice, very flavorful, but not greasy. Don’t forget to give a little dip in the soy sauce!
Cod Fish Dumpling
Definitely not what you would think of as a traditional dumpling. The wrapper of the dumpling is a thin layer of cod fish and it’s nestled in a delicious light creamy sauce.
I’m usually not a huge abalone fan because it is often very tough. This was definitely not tough, had just the right amount of chew and the flavor of the Yuzu topping really made it pop.
This is the Korean version of beef tartare. The meat was very fresh and cut into thin strips, coated in sesame oil and topped with minced garlic and served ice cold on top of a bed of Korean pear and cucumber. The intense flavor of the sesame oil combined with the sweet pear and cucumber was very refreshing.
Cod with Korean Leeks
The fish was a little drier than I like, but the sauce was a real flavor bomb; I loved the sweet savory tart combination.
This braised pork belly dish is pretty commonly served in many restaurants in Korea. I really liked the kimchi that was served with this dish, but I didn’t really think there was anything special about the meat.
Fried Red Snapper
The fish was topped with an apple soy sauce but had a slight cinnamon taste, definitely very interesting.
Black Chicken and Mushroom Soup
Black chicken is said to be extra nutritious, however I didn’t really enjoy the thick consistency of the soup and it was rather bland to me.
The beef was served on a hot plate along with mushrooms, ginkgo berries and fresh kimchi. I was impressed with the tenderness of the meat marinated a light sweet soy sauce. The ginkgo beans were interesting, almost a lima bean consistency. The fresh kimchi that the brought with it was pretty tasty, but watch out, it has raw oysters! That was a surprise!
Seafood Hot Pot
The way they serve the soup in a traditional hot pot is very fun, they light it up at the table and bring it back up to a boil. The broth is very light, but packed full of seafood and veggies
Seokparang offers two types of Bibimbap, a chili and a soy sauce version. I really liked the chili sauce (gochujang) version, their chili sauce had a very nice smooth flavor, not overly sweet. The traditional soy sauce bibimbap was good, but a little more simple with a strong sesame oil flavor.
The noodles were floating in a seafood broth. The dish was pretty bland, but had a strong seafood flavor.
Dessert & Tea
Dessert consisted of a ginger rice tea, super sweet crispy persimmon, tasty black sesame rice cake, and a fried jujube.
I was definitely very impressed with the service and almost every dish was much tastier than I had expected. You will certainly leave stuffed to the gills after your multi-course meal, we definitely were! If you’re looking for a unique experience and don’t mind springing for a pricier meal, then I would recommend stopping by. It’s not often we get to eat like Kings!