Before I left Seoul I was invited to a dinner at Long Chim, the Thai restaurant in the Ryse Hotel in Hongdae. Finding somewhere luxurious to stay in that area of town isn’t always easy so I really wanted to share with you such a high end hotel. The fact that they have a rooftop cocktail bar is just the cherry on the top of the cake.
The hotel itself is owned and operated by the Marriot group and is just a short walk from Hongdae station. On the ground floor is a really cool brewery that is designed to look like a Korean convenience store. They also boast a branch of the famous San Francisco Bakery, Tartine.
The Long Chim restaurant is located on the fourth floor of the hotel and exceedingly chic and stylish. No expense has been spared on the modern Thai decor, most of which has been imported. The whole restaurant has been adorned with loads of cool and unique touches like the Thai cigarette packet mural on the wall of the bar.
We kicked off the night with a cocktail special. The Ryse was a mix of pineapple and their own signature pale ale which was incredibly refreshing. I never would have imagined putting together those ingredients but it really worked. After that we moved on to the Pomelo Spritz (20,000) a mix of grapefruit sherbet, Aperol, vodka, and bubbles. I absolutely loved this drink, although it wasn’t surprising considering it had all my favourite ingredients in it. My friend was driving so had a Virgin Mary (12,000). Sadly this one was not as good as mine, it was unnaturally sweet which was probably down to the tomato juice.
Long Chim has been awarded one Michelin star for their food, making it the only high end Thai restaurant in Seoul. The menu is a la carte but we tried a number of dishes all recommended by the chef. We tried the Squid Galore (22,000) to start. The barbecue squid skewers were coated in the most amazing sauce, however the squid was a little chewy, I think they would be better with shrimp or chicken. Our Main course was the Thai Green Curry (34,000). This was a little disappointing to me, it was very expensive and just seemed lacking in the rich coconut flavour that one expects from a green curry. Our favourite dish was the Pad Thai (30,000), and whilst we enjoyed it a lot, I’m not sure if it was really any better than the one at my local Thai restaurant which charges half the price. I know that high end hotel restaurants are always expensive, but I was hoping the food would have been better given their star. The drinks and ambience of the restaurant made it rather special though.
One of the most special things about the Ryse hotel is the Rooftop Bar which is ran by Le Chamber, a bar voted one of the best in Seoul by numerous people. The rooftop is really large with seating inside and out and has spectacular views of the city. There is a large cocktail menu which is split into sections; Classics, Ryse inspired, Oriental inspired, and the Four Seasons. We thought we should try some of the unique Ryse Inspired cocktails so tried the Spicy Thailand (25,000) which is the drink designed for Long Chim restaurant. It is made with tequila, coconut rum, passion fruit, fresh lime and thai chili. It was beautifully presented and certainly packed a spicy kick. On the other end of the spectrum we decided to for the Night Bun (25,000) which is inspired by the Tartine bakery. A mix of Baileys, banana liquor, milk, egg, butter, cinnamon and coconut sugar thus was more of a dessert, in fact it was like a boozy creme brulee, especially since they flamed the sugar topping at the table for us.
Overall I thought the Ryse to be a beautiful hotel, and very unique for Hongdae. It mixed the cool vibe of Hongdae with five star elegance. While it is pricey for the neighbourhood, the bar and restaurant really had a touch of class. If you are looking for something special to impress your friends then I think it is worth a visit.
Ryse Hotel is located at 130 Yanghwa-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Hongdae Station (line 2) and come out of exit 9. Walk straight for a block and a half, you will see the Ryse Hotel just ahead on the left hand side. Long Chim is located on the third floor. For more information you can call them on 02-330-7700 or check out their website.