Last week I was invited to go and check out the new terrace at Edward Kwon’s Lab XXIV (24), at the new Le Meridian hotel in Gangnam. As my new parents in law were in town, we also paid to bring them along with us too. Edward Kwon is a celebrity chef, and has restaurants all over the world. And as it happens, his restaurant Spice (now closed) was one of the very first higher end restaurants myself and my beloved ever went to, so it was the perfect spot to go for our first dinner as a married couple.
The large and luxurious restaurant is located up on the fourth floor, and boasts a newly added outdoor terrace. The terrace feels like a secret haven, perched upon the city below. It has a rather lovely view, and it was fabulous sitting outside and enjoying the gorgeous weather. We were there to try the new set menu, a four course dinner, with three glasses of wine, for 79,000 per person. A fancy dinner with wine for that price soon peaked my interest, so I couldn’t resist bringing along the in-laws with me at my own cost.
We kicked off the evening with a glass of bubbly, which was quickly followed by a selection of bread, of which we indulged in all three offerings. Then it was on to a double amuse bouche of Jerusalem Artichoke, and Chicken Confit. I just adore an amuse bouche, even though they are built into the cost of the meal, it always seems like free food. The Jerusalem artichoke puree was sat upon a delicate pretzel style cracker, while the chicken confit was sandwiched between two small pieces of bread. Both were devoured in seconds and bouche was definitely amused.
The first course was Abalone & Truffle, with wilted enoki mushroom and truffle salt. As I abhor abalone (it’s just far too fishy) they made mine without. I love the combination of truffle and mushrooms so this rich and creamy soup was always going to be a winner for me. It was followed by the Seasonal Tomatoes, with basil seeds, chilean grapes carpaccio, lemon thyme leaves, crostini, and ricotta espuma. This light tomato salad topped with sliced palm hearts, was wonderfully refreshing, and while we loved the ricotta espuma it was a touch hard to eat with the crostini which was full of holes.
The second fish course, was Toothfish & Vermouth, poached in clarified butter, noilly prat and spring onions. For my fish course I was allowed to substitute the toothfish for lobster as I’m not really mush of a fishy fish eater. I loved the exchange, as I’ll never turn down the chance to eat lobster and also gave us a chance to experience a different version of the dish. The buttery toothfish was adored by everyone at the table, and both the fish and lobster went really well the accompanying glass of grenache blanc.
When we got to the main course we were able to choose between the Pork Tenderloin or the Hanwoo Tenderloin (+20,000 supplement) Supplements kind of annoy me, especially when the menu is this small. I wish they would just make a dish that fits within the budget, but this is sadly not the case in high end Seoul restaurants where supplements rein supreme. As we were a foursome we got two of each dish. The roast pork came with polenta, broccolini, carrot puree, and sauce blanquette. The seared Hanwoo came with cauliflower puree, white asparagus and hazelnuts. I shared half and each and have to say I enjoyed both. If pushed to choose I would go for the pork as I loved the slightly spicy carrot puree and crispy polenta, but it is really just about your meat preference. Served alongside our main course was our third glass of wine, a cabernet sauvignon which rounded out the meal quite well.
For dessert we were given a selection petit fours, including a strawberry macaron, mango choux, raspberry jelly, and chocolate truffle. It would have been nice to have something a little more indulgent but the sweets were a nice way to round off the meal without being too heavy. We were also given a choice of tea or coffee which I always enjoy at the end of a large course menu.
Overall I thought the dinner was great for the price. We all liked all of the dishes and adored the wine pairings. While there are several other restaurants with similarly priced set menus, none include the wine which I think makes this hard to beat, especially when coupled with their gorgeous terrace. If you are looking for an elegant well priced meal that is set to impress for any occasion, this is it.
Lab XXIV is located at Le Meridien Seoul, 120 Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sinnonhyeon (line 9) and come out of exit 4. Walk straight and you will see the Le Meridien Hotel just up ahead on the right hand side. Go into the hotel and take the lift up to floor F. For more information you can call them on 02-511-4523 or visit their website. Lunch is served from 11:30am-3pm, and dinner from 6:00pm-10:30pm.