Tuesday, June 11, 2024


Soigne looked more “industrial” than I imagined and I didn’t know what gave me such impression when I visited the restaurant for dinner one night, whether it was the location in the lower floor of an office building, the bright white lighting or the open kitchen with light color decor that felt like a lab, or the quiet dining room with furniture that looks more like corporate office.

I arrived promptly for my 7pm booking and surprised I ended up to be the last table they served that evening. Menu was presented in a tablet (back to my point of feeling industrial) with only simple description of the dishes (“Lotus Root, Mackerel & Persimmon…”) and the choices of drink pairing.

The menu looks daunting at first with 15 courses listed but turned out the portion was just right. The first three “courses” were actually amuse bouche that was presented at the same time. The Lotus Root chips got a nice crispy texture, served with fig jelly for nice creamy and sweet taste combination; the seafood “tartlet” served in a dried persimmon shell was delicious, with slices of dry-aged mackerel and shiso garnishes adding to the aroma. Last one was the sweet shrimp with nice rich flavor and a hint of sweetness, served in a crunchy tartlet with crunchy vegetables and trout roes for some nice contrasts in textures.

Continuing with a few more bite-sized canapes, “Sikhae” was the sauce made with fermented millet and sticky rice and on top, a piece of flatfish wrapped with daikon and served with local osteria caviar on the side. I like the creamy texture and exotic flavor. The hairtail beignet was another seafood appetizer, with finger-sized beignet filled with hairtail fish, chives, dills and other herbs. The sauce was more sweet than acidic and slightly aromatic too with all the herbs. 

Kkaennip Jeon is a dish inspired by ancient recipe and in this version, the pancake was done with scallop with a vin janue sauce underneath. I love the celeriac puree served on the side too. “Chestnut and Yuza” was introduced as a “pasta course”, served in the form of roasted chestnut tortellini filled with chestnut mousse, yuza zest and marmalade and finished with a simple butter sauce with white asparagus. 

The Hairtail and Gondre was one of my favorite course of the evening with a good fusion “land-and-sea” combination. The fish from Jeju was gently cooked and served with seasonal gondre namul, toastged nuts and seaweed on top, and a sauce prepared with oysters for the rich flavor. The peppery flavor was almost medicinal, reminding me of Chinese dong quai or Malaysian Bak Kut The. That’s followed by another “Land-and-sea” course, this time King Crab leg paired with cabbage, pumpkin and enoki. 

The last course before the main was said to be inspired by the classic “ginseng chicken” but in a much fancier presentation. Chicken was stuffed with mushroom mousse and mixed with minced leg meat, with sauteed pine mushrooms served on top, and I like the rich mushroom sauce too. Right next to this was the side dish of “risotto”, prepared using sticky rice prepared with chicken oil and dusted with mushroom powder on top. I love the intense flavor and very much different than any other mushroom dish I have tasted. 

Seems like Hanwoo is the main course of choice for many local chefs – nothing wrong but thought they ought to be a bit more creative and go for something more technically challenging. The piece of beef striploin was decent, thought I prefer to be a little less cooked and the sauce (prepared with meat jus and port reduction) less sweet. The deep-fried burdock and black bean puree on the side was a great local touch though. 

I finished with a few sweet courses. I especially enjoyed the “Rice & Rice Syrup”, with rice ice-cream paired with smoked rice mousse and drizzled with caramel on top. It was unique and delicious. 

Went with a single glass of champagne and then right before dessert, I was served a glass of house-made Gose as palate cleanser – tasted like kombucha for a hint of fermented flavor and with sharp acidity. At the end of the meal, they passed me an envelope with each of the courses in detailed descriptions – I could easily just copy and paste everything here and it probably better captured everything in the meal than what I have jotted down. 

More photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72177720314313832/

When? January 19 2024
Where? Soigne, 652 Gangnam-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
Menu Highlights? Hairtail and Gondre
Drinks? 2015 Champagne Benoi Dinvaut Meunier/Chardonnay Extra Brut
Web: (Michelin Guide) guide.michelin.com/hk/en/seoul-capital-area/kr-seoul/restaurant/soigne

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