Michelin reveals new starred restaurants in Seoul

By Im Eun-byel

Suspicions raised of interference in Michelin Guide Seoul’s selection

Published : Nov 14, 2019 - 16:28
Updated : Nov 14, 2019 - 16:28

Michelin Guide Seoul’s fourth edition was released Thursday at Vista Walkerhill Seoul, despite suspected meddling with the selection process.

Highly acclaimed Korean fine-dining restaurants Gaon and La Yeon kept their three Michelin stars, maintaining their stars since the Seoul guide was first published four years ago. 

Chefs who received one or more stars in the Michelin Guide Seoul 2020 pose for photos at an event Thursday at Vista Walkerhill Seoul, Gwangjin-gu, eastern Seoul. (Yonhap)

A total of 31 restaurants received at least one star this year.

There was no new addition to the three-star list. However, two new restaurants made it to the two-star list: innovative cuisine restaurant Mosu, led by chef Ahn Sung-jae, and contemporary French restaurant L’Impression, led by chef Seo Hyeon-min.

Mosu moved up a rank from last year’s single Michelin star. Kwon Sook-soo, Mingles, Alla Prima, Jungsik and Kojima kept their two stars from last year.

Seoul now has 22 one-starred restaurants, with seven restaurants newly joining the list this year.

The new additions are: Spanish restaurant Terreno, led by chef Shin Seung-hwan, French restaurant Aupres, led by chef Lee Ji-won, Korean contemporary restaurants Onjium, led by chef Cho Eun-hee, Evett, led by Joseph Lidgerwood, and Myomi by Jang Jin-mo, French contemporary restaurants Votre Maison and Pierre Gagnaire’s Seoul branch, led by chefs Kim Min-jae and Fredric Eyrier, respectively.

“Korean cuisine is carefully balanced between ancestral tradition and innovation. All chefs are interpreting the foundation of Korean cuisine in their own way,” Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said prior to revealing the list.

“This creative mix between tradition and innovation seems to be the recipe of creation for wonders here in Korea,” he said. 

Gwendal Poullennec, international director of Michelin Guides, speaks during a press event for the release of the Michelin Guide Seoul 2020 on Thursday at Vista Walkerhill Seoul, Gwangjin-gu, eastern Seoul. (Yonhap)

In addition to the Michelin-starred restaurants, four new additions were made to the Bib Gourmand list, which comprises 60 restaurants recognized for serving quality food at reasonable prices of under 35,000 won.

For more information about restaurants listed in Michelin Guide Seoul 2020, visit the website https://guide.michelin.com/kr/ko.

Meanwhile, allegations have been raised that some of the starred restaurants signed a consulting deal with a figure who had worked as a local coordinator for Michelin Guide inspectors. Furthermore, those restaurants may allegedly have covered the expenses of inspectors’ visits to Seoul.

An owner of a local restaurant has raised the suspicions, saying her restaurant was excluded from the Michelin Guide after she declined to sign with the consultant.

Michelin Korea reportedly denied the suspicions Tuesday in a phone interview with a newspaper, saying the firm was not acquainted with the figure. It added that an internal investigation was conducted after similar suspicions were raised last year but nothing was found.

Michelin Korea did not respond to questions about the suspicions at the event on Thursday.

“We developed a unique methodology in deep rooted independence. We do not trust anybody except inspectors,” Poullennec said in his introductory speech, possibly referring to the controversy.

There was no official Q&A session, but after the press event, Poullennec denied Michelin’s connections with the figure.

“Michelin evaluation is made by multiple inspectors,” he said to the press. “There is no need for restaurants to cover our expenses. We always pay for the meals.”

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@herladcorp.com)


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