Seoul - Elbon the Table, Seoul's first molecular gastronomy restaurant
Anyone who'd recently been to Elbon the Table by ‘crazy chef’ Hyun Seok Choi? It's been cited in the San Pellegrino World's Best 50 website recently:
So far, I'd only seen a brief write-up by CH RipCurl last month about his lunch there, but he wasn't too impressed:
Just to clarify my write-up, I did like Elbon actually. :) If you look at my post, it's one of the places I liked & would revisit. Perhaps it came off sounding not entirely complimentary as I did point out that not every dish was a hit for me?
Was looking thru the pictures of the meal yesterday, so I can recap the menu with greater accuracy here and give a longer review:
• Lobster quartet w/ rose foam, rose gelee, etc – Wasn't bad, but lobster and rose don’t seem to go together particularly well
• Lobster bisque w/ basil ice cream – Both were good, the bisque wasn’t overly heavy, which I like. (Confess I didn’t try the two together.)
• Small grilled abalone with breadcrumbs (I forget if this is from the tasting menu or the regular
lunch menu though) – I’m not a fan of abalone in general, which gets easily too chewy for my taste, but my partner liked it.
• Cold capellini w/ caviar – Quite light, an ok dish.
• Foie gras w/ banana, orange compote & truffle ice cream – Easily my favorite dish, it had
everything (hot & cold, crisp & creamy, savoury & sweet w/ a touch of acidity). The proportions
were just right too.
• Steak (forget which cut but probably ribeye) – it didn’t have the characteristic fragrance of good
quality wagyu or hanwoo, but was prepared to the right degree. It wasn’t a ‘wow’ steak the likes of Cut in MBS, but on the other hand Cut is much pricier. My issue with this dish was the way it was served (on a very hot stone), which didn’t allow the meat to rest & kept it cooking unnecessarily after it was served. (We eat slow, so this may not be an issue for everyone!) The different flavored salts served with the steak are a nice touch though.
• Dessert was either molten chocolate cake or another (fruit mousse?) cake, can't quite tell from the picture. Competently executed, an ok finish.
So overall, 4 – 5 decent dishes and two very good ones. A pretty good hit rate especially considering the pricing of the menu (about 120,000 KRW iirc) and the high quality ingredients used. Although it’s tagged as molecular, only the lobster quarter (the rose preparations) seemed to involve ‘molecular’ preparation.
Comparing Elbon to another Asia-based restaurant on the San Pellegrino list, Les Creations de Narisawa, to provide some perspective - for what it’s worth I actually preferred the lunch tasting menu at Elbon to the lunch menu at Narisawa (around 7000 yen for 5 courses I believe, of which iirc the main was pork tenderloin). I found Elbon’s better value overall.
Hope this does Elbon more justice.
P/S as kosmose7 says, the tasting menu (available at lunch) was definitely a better overall choice than the regular lunch set, which was decent but not memorable.
I went there earlier this week for dinner. The most expensive menu was not available and we settled on the Dinner Set Menu which was 85,000 KW. This is certainly not a 'fine dining' restaurant by international standards. It is quite casual and relaxed and would probably be classed as slightly more upmarket than a bistro.
The food was ok but none of the dishes were really unique nor particularly impressive. Fortunately the menu was reasonably priced so I had to take it all in perspective. The food was served really quickly though, which was pleasantly surprising, and service was generally good.
It is their dinner pre fixe menu (either "Dinner Course B" for around KRW90,000 or "Chef's Special", which is around KRW140,000 per person) that clearly shows Chef Choi's creativity,
so I strongly suggest you to try dinner pre fixe, rather than lunch set menu, because lunch is pretty much plain (which is still good value for money though, and shows firm basic cooking skills).