AFF member Abdul_A350 has been on a culinary odyssey lately in South Korea. He decided to explore some recommended restaurants before the first Michelin Guide to South Korea was published in early November, and presumably, the prices increased.
I selected these restaurants primarily based on recommendations from friends and colleagues. I also eat a lot of quite standard/traditional Korean in Tokyo, so there is a bias towards more creative or innovative places.
Being an Australian Frequent Flyer member meant Abdul_A350 also took advantage of a creative routing using points to get to his destination. An initial plan to fly there in Asiana First class on a seasonal A380 service was nixed early on. Taking its place instead was a route worthy of a frequent flyer.
For the way over I used AAdvantage points to fly CBR-SYD-NRT-ICN with SYD-NRT in JAL F.
Staying at multiple hotels while overseas can also pay off. This was the case in this circumstance with the member taking several reduced price or complimentary nights. By extracting the most value out of a membership, costs can be reduced.
Most of the benefits were attributable to my Amex membership in one way or another (including via a status match to obtain HHonors Diamond status).
The five restaurants he planned his trip around eventually picked up six Michelin stars. La Yeon ended up taking three stars and is now going to be much harder to get a reservation at.
This was where my timing was particularly fortunate. They received three stars from Michelin, and it sounds like it is now very very difficult to get a booking.
On the other hand, Ryunique missed out completely, but the experience ended up being the best of the trip. Perhaps the lack of diners helped relieve pressure on the kitchen staff.
My waiter, and the sommelier, was an Australian (Tim) who had worked at Rockpool (as had the chef) and elsewhere.
Tim was charming throughout, and the chef and pastry chef came out to explain their creations. It was just a very warm experience. And thoroughly delicious, and interesting throughout.
The focus was not purely on food in Seoul. There are many attractions to keep oneself occupied. This being their first visit to South Korea, they were happy to experience good weather for walking. A top spot on the must-see list for many is the border with North Korea, and a word of advice.
Once it became clear I would have a free morning, I asked the concierge to book me a tour to the DMZ.
A bit of a beginner’s error, as it turned out. The JSA or a combined DMZ/JSA tour would have been better. As would have been a bus that defogged the windows. I should note that the DMZ Tour does not actually allow you within the DMZ.
To read more about this gastronomic journey and see some of the photos of the food for yourself, please join the discussion HERE.