4.160 Hansik Buffet

Cycle 4 – Item 160

14 (Fri) June 2013

Hansik Buffet


at Korea House

-Pil, Jung, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with meeting participants and secretariat

Korea House is a Korean restaurant.  Founded in 1957 then remodeled in 1980 to reflect mid-19th-century royal architecture, in association with the Korean Cultural Assets Preservation Foundation – so it’s officially a landmark restaurant.  The food is geared towards court cuisine.  Service is available à la carte or as set/multi-course meals for small groups, buffet or banquet-style for large parties.  The prices range from 30,000 won to 250,000 won per person.   Generally, it’s one of those “you never visit your own monuments” kinda place (among the dozen people that I’ve asked, all life-long residents of Seoul, not a single person had even been there).

The establishment is also famous for the cultural events held on the premises, such as the twice-nightly traditional dance/music/drum/fan performance that supposedly 1.6 million guests have seen since 1981 (I’d wager that 1.5 million were foreigners, the remaining 0.1 million being locals accompanying those foreigners).

The occasion this evening was the reception dinner for a gathering of experts/researchers from various parts of Asia in conjunction with the Training Program for the WHO Tool to Assess Health Law in Countries, organized by Yonsei University Asian Institute for Bioethics and Health Law.

The food, from the buffet, was surprisingly pretty good.  It was surprising to me because I tend to be very cynical about buffets in general.  But the key here was focus.  Technically, all the items wouldn’t fall within the definition of court cuisine, but most of it was at least traditionally Korean.  In other words, the kitchen concentrated only on what it was capable of making and making well.  The otherwise unremarkable extent and nature of the Korea House spread really wouldn’t justify the price of 70,000 won for a local customer, though it’d still be preferable to a hotel buffet offering a lot of bullshit dishes at around the same price.



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