seoul: Philkyungjae & Chung Sikdang ?
both these were recommended by my hotel concierge ..
i'm visiting from new york, and want to avoid tourist traps and average food .. are these worth visiting?
i have one other dinner and two lunches to think about as well. i will have one vegetarian in my group of 3 as well.
Philkyungjae is Korean traditional house that is over 500 years old. It was built by a grandson of the fifth son of King Sejong, who created Korean alphabets. How could you call such historic place decrepit? I am sorry but It sounds so ignorant. It sounds like calling antiques outdated or old fashioned.
Its food is fairly decent too, following the traditional Korean palace food format. Korean royal cuisine, unlike the stereotype Korean food which is typically spicy, has very subtle flavors and if they all taste the same to you, I feel sorry about that.
It is not a tourist trap either. Surely there are tourists too, but it is quite popular among local Koreans. By the way, I am a Korean who was born in Korea.
@TomEatsHK -- Thanks - I ended up visiting Philkyungjae a couple of days prior to your response.
@agaaaga -- It is helpful to hear your viewpoint, especially as a Korean who clearly has experience with traditional cuisine.
For international travelers who have a "western trained palate", Philkyungjae will not be an enjoyable culinary experience, from my point of view. The reasons are many, and include technique (overcooked fish, overcooked beef) and range of flavors (perhaps the flavors were foreign, but my general description would be bland and repetitive).
Viewing the service independently, the experience was cold (figuratively and literally). This is not acceptable to me, regardless of tradition. The private rooms are not appropriately setup for winter dining -- our room had a small space heater that was far from sufficient. The waitress informed us that management had decided that of the 4 fixed menu options, only the 2 most expensive were available to my group of 3 after we chose from the 2 cheaper options (this was not a customary condition, and my hotel concierge and management were extremely upset when informed of this). To cap things off, the minute we paid our bill the restaurant asked us to leave. Drinks + food cost ~$200 per head.
I would not recommend this restaurant to anyone.
I think perhaps it was your first time to try Korean royal cuisine. Philkyungjae serves 100% traditional Korean food following the recipes learned from the last court lady of Chosun Dynasty, as many other leading royal cuisine restaurants in Seoul and if you want something with Western touch, it is not suitable for you. If you did not appreciate the food at Philkyungjae, perhaps you will have similar experiences at other traditional Korean restaurants serving royal cuisine too.
The heating problem arises because, like I said, it is a traditional Korean house which did not use to have the central heating system, although perhaps they need to do some remodeling works to modify or 'modernize' the heating system.
However, it is one thing a person may not appreciate the style of the cuisine and it is quite another to say that the place or the food is decrepit. I just wanted to point it out.
High accolades indeed for Phil Kyung Jae, agaaga. Have you been there recently? It's probably worth checking out to see why indofx had such a bad experience there. Personally, I'd like to visit it even just for its historic significance.
I've had good experiences with Imperial Korean cuisine at several places in Seoul - but my favorite was Han-Miri:
But my fascination for Imperial Korean cuisine perhaps stemmed from that hyper-popular Korean TV period drama, Dae Jang-geum (대장금), hence I enjoyed every other course which was served to me (pics below).
Another factor could be that perhaps the Chinese palate better appreciates Korean imperial cuisine's very subtle tastes. As Richard Ekkebus (French chef at HK's 2-Michelin star Amber restaurant) said, "The Hong Kong palate is very subtle. There are a lot of levels of umami in Cantonese food, which maybe people in Europe would say is bland."
Phil Kyung Jae
Tel: +82-2-445 2115
Tel: +82-2-556-8480, 8688
I went to school in a school which was over 700 years old. That doesn't mean it is good.
I understand it comes with great pedigree unfortunately PKJ is a musty old has been on my two recent visits. The rooms are worn down by the slow rotunda of guests. The decoration is tattered and smells like the inside of an old cupboard.
The outside does look very pretty and I took some night shots which were probably the best part of the visit.
As for the food it is undoubtedly a tourist/ high level chaebol employee trap. It is absolutely sub par and leaves you half bored after the first couple of dishes. I have had better Korean food pretty much everywhere else in Seoul.
As for being born in Korea I think the key question is when you were last there. As currently it is bad.