7.357 La Langoustine de Jéju


27 (Tue) December 2016


La Langoustine de Jéju

(funny that Jeju suddenly acquires an accent when written in French)

at Pierre Gagnaire à Séoul

(funny that Seoul suddenly acquires an accent when written in French)

Lotte Hotel

-Sogong, Seoul-

with W

Home for the Holidays, Day 8 (see previously 7.356 QPC v SAB).

In Seoul.  Winter break. Going back to Manila on the 31st — can hardly wait.

Can’t recall ever dining in a restaurant with its own elevator button (wonder where it went before 2008).

On 7 November 2016, the Michelin Guide announced its inaugural list for Seoul.  Two restaurants received 3-stars; three restaurants received 2 stars, including Pierre Gagnaire; and 19 restaurants received 1 star, including Poom (the only establishment on the entire list that I’d visited prior to this evening; it received the honor of GMTD’s first 4.0 rating and yet, for some inexplicable/inexcusable reason, I didn’t write about the experience; I do recall that it was on the occasion of W’s birthday) (see generally 1.052 Bamboo Shoots in XO Sauce)).

I wonder what Audrey Hepburn – who once said, “The opposite of luxury is not poverty, but vulgarity.” – would’ve thought of this place.
According to Michelin: “The elegant dining space, adorned with Murano chandeliers and gold trim walls, exudes classic French luxury.”  Frankly, I felt like I was on the set of a low budget television production.

For my birthday this year, W offered to buy dinner at a place of my choice.  Among the five restaurants in Seoul to receive 3 or 2 stars from Michelin, the only one that had an opening was Pierre Gagnaire.  The other four, none of them mainstream famous the day before the Michelin announcement, were understandably swamped overnight by the publicity.  Even if I could’ve secured a booking, probably best to wait until the dust settles.  On the other hand, Pierre Gagnaire has long been a household name in Seoul — in certain households, anyway —  since opening back in 2008 to massive publicity — from what I recall, it was hyped as the country’s first restaurant established by a Michelin 3-star chef, appropriately situated in the lofty penthouse of the city’s most iconic downtown hotel.  On and off over the years, I’d thought of trying it out, but always chickened out at the last minute, mostly due to price.  Tonight, the factors confluenced in my direction.

I went with the langoustine mostly because I like anything crustacean, but also because I wasn’t exactly sure what the other options involved, and because it was relatively cheap at 50,000 KRW (about 44 USD / 2,200 PHP).

Before proceeding, I apologize both for the crappy quality of the photos — dim lighting, terrible orangish hue, camera’s white balance was off, auto-focus out of calibration, but I was too excited to make adjustments — and the lack of detail/depth in the description of each dish — immersed in the feeding process, as appropriate, I was too absorbed to listen to what was being explained to me, to take notes, to simply remember anything about any of it.  All a blur.

Amuse bouche – zero recollect of this dish.
Bread sticks, creamy soup-thing – zero recollect.
Bread – zero recollect.
En consommé au curry vert, lait de coco et coriandre fraiche/basilic: green curry, coconut milk and coriander leaves/basil consomme – I vaguely remember it tasting Thai-ish, but did not like the slippery texture of the langoustine.
En tronçon givré, enrobé d’un gel d’omija et pamplemousse: chilled chunk, grapefruit and omija gel – zero recollect.
Ecrasée à crue au poivre noir de Timsut, caramel de carcasses citronné, pulpe de tomate et safran: crushed with timsut pepper, lemony shell caramel – zero recollect.
Rôtie dans la graisse de canard, gratin de ris de veau, en scampi: roasted in duck fat, veal sweetbread, deep-fried tail – seem to recall it being pretty good, like a nicely grilled prawn.
L’Agneau – Crumble Stilton, parmesan, persil, pignon de pin, le canon rôti. La souris confite Terre de Sienne. Saupiquet provençal: roasted saddle off the bone, crumble of parmesan, parsley, pine nut. Braised shank Terre de Sienne-style. Garlic condiment – kinda remember being underwhelmed — 110,000 KRW.
The “crumble of parmesan, parsley, pine nut” underneath, like a dry dog biscuit.

As far as I can recall, unable to remember specifics, I got up from the meal somewhat amused, glad to have finally done it, though not really happy per se.  I mean, if it didn’t leave a lasting impression, then how good could it have been?  Yesterday’s cheeseburger remains oh so vivid.  Food should, at times, aspire beyond just being tasty/filling/comforting, pushing the boundaries of the artistic/scientific/novel/intriguing/fun, as per the chef’s vision and skill; in such aspiration, however, the experience should ultimately be gratifying, as per the person eating the food.  Here, I got the sense that Chef Gagnaire is tickled by his own self-perceived cleverness, and that the customer is expected to appreciate/admire/adore the fleeting glimpses thereof — culinary masturbation, mouths wide open to receive.  Would I go back for more — even if I could afford to do so (total bill, including the prix fixe “L’espirit Pierre Gagnaire” set meal that W ordered, came out to nearly 500,000 KRW) — no.

On the way home, we stopped by for a bowl of noodles, to appease both the physical and spiritual hunger — a lot of stories on the internet from people who’ve dined at Pierre Gagnaire end with eating noodles on the way home.

7 thoughts on “7.357 La Langoustine de Jéju

  1. that entrance is obscene. the two times i’ve been there i ate in a private dining room, both rooms not nearly as gaudy or vulgar. the food is good but i don’t appreciate fine french cuisine enough for it to have been worth the money someone paid for my meal. would never go there on my own dime.

    1. what i meant was, in support of your comment about not appreciating “fine french cuisine,” madame snarky, this food doesn’t fit into any established frame of reference.

  2. Sorry that the experience, well, sucked. The food really looks like puppet food at the cost of what no man should pay for the tiny little morsels of “forgettable” flavor things. Sorry…
    I guess I’ll stay away from this place next time I’m in Seoul. But I may try the other Michelin places you noted… what are they called? Are they all in Seoul, or nearby areas too?

    1. a quick google of michelin seoul will provide the list. i’m going to korea next time, hopefully i’ll be able to try at least another one, stay tuned…

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