I was very excited to visit La Yeon at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul on my recent trip to Korea after seeing beautiful photos of their yookhwe bibimbap on Instagram. My interested piqued even further after seeing it was award 3 Michelin Stars by the Inaugural 2017 Michelin Korea Guide that was just published this November. La Yeon is one of only two restaurants in all of Korea that received 3 Michelin Stars.
Reservations at La Yeon
I stayed at the Shilla Hotel on my recent trip and asked them to secure a lunch or dinner reservation anytime during my 1 week stay. I didn’t realize the publication of the 2017 Korea Michelin Guide would make it so difficult to secure reservations at any of the restaurants which made the Michelin list. The hotel informed me that only one time slot for lunch was available on the last day of my trip, and I would be placed fourth in queue on a waiting list. The waiting list queue was even longer for other days and times. So if you plan on dining here, make sure to secure a reservation early in advance. The day before the reservation, I was alerted in the afternoon that I had made it off the waitlist and could dine for lunch the next day. Korea does not have the same concept of secured reservations with a credit card for fine dining as the US, so more people cancel their reservations.
I tried not to over anticipate this restaurant experience, but was really curious what 3 Michelin traditional Korean food would look and taste like. I am a huge fan of the elegance, grace, and class associated with all aspects of the Shilla Hotel and believe it houses the best hotel restaurants in Seoul. My favorite Korean Style Chinese restaurant, Palsun, is also at this hotel and the hotel bakery has some of the best tasting traditional bread in Korea.
La Yeon Information
Address: 23rd Floor, Shilla Hotel Seoul
Website: La Yeon Shilla Hotel Seoul
Price: Lunch $85-$200 per person, Dinner $130-$250 per person
Accolades: 1 of the 2 three michelin star restaurants in Korea, No 38 on Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants
The restaurant is on the 23rd floor of the hotel next to the French Restaurant, Continental. The other Chinese and Japanese restaurants at Shilla are on the lower floors. After exiting the elevator on the 23rd floor, you walk through a hallway with sweeping views of Seoul to an entrance which is quite similar in feel to the other restaurants in the hotel.
La Yeon Menus and Price
Both Lunch and Dinner have 2 prix fixe menus with options for shorter and longer courses. The lunch menus are 98,000KRW ($85) and 170,000KRW ($145). The dinner menus are 150,000KRW ($130) and 230,000KRW ($200). The cheaper/shorter of the two options all have a $30-$35 supplement fee for beef entrees. The way the menu is set up, it is hard to dine without adding the beef supplement because the rest of the food is light.
The total bill for a group of three came to 654,00KRW ($560). This included three beef supplements ($35 each), 1 royal hot pot ($50), and 1 bottle of champagne ($130).
Would I go back? Yes, definitely! The seasoning, flavor, and quality of the ingredients really stand out. This is extremely elevated Korean food in a nice setting with good service. The basic meal starts at around $150 per person. I can see that at this price point some diners might expect to see more fanciful floral plating or an ingredient like black truffle on the menu and maybe disappointed. However someone with a good palate will know how much quality and effort goes into the meal and feel the food warrants the price. Also since tip and tax are included in the $150pp, it is more like a $120pp meal in the US pre tip and tax.
The Four Lunch and Dinner Menus
La Yeon “Ye” Course Menu
I chose the short lunch course for 98,000KRW and 40,000KRW beef supplement. The table shared a “Shin Sun” Royal Hot Pot for 60,000KRW. I would definitely recommend sharing the royal hot pot for the table. This is a very traditional Korea food with many ingredients that was only served to the King and other nobility in historic times. A lot of technique goes into this dish and it is worth experiencing for the extra charge.
The Starter Nibbles were a good sign for the amazing meal to come. Elegantly created seaweed crackers and perfectly dried and sweetened dried jujube slices.
First Course: Chestnut puree soup, delicious!
Second Course: Seared beef rolls with scallion. “Pyunchae.” Amazingly marbled beef with perfectly accented yuzu soy sauce. I am a big fan of this dish and this is the best example of this dish I have had thus far.
Third Course: Rice Porridge with Cod. Great example of subtle sophisticated flavor with very fresh fish.
Extra Course: Royal Hot Pot
Fourth Course/Main Entree: Korean Hanwoo Beef Supplement
You can choose between tradtional bulgogi, sirloin, and braised short rib galbi. All three are very good but the table unanimously agreed that the best in order are 1)Sirloin 2)Galbi 3)Bulgogi.
Fifth Course: choice of abalone rice or yookhwe raw beef bibimbap
Sixth Course Dessert: Shilla’s famous ice flake milk bingsoo with Red Ginseng Sauce
Finale: Traditional “soojungwa” Cinnamon Tea and Sweet Potato Tteok