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  • Wanderlustts

Seoul Series: Michelin Guide Seoul Restaurant Reviews & More

During my two-week stay in Seoul, I had the pleasure of stuffing my face twice, if not three times a day. Today, I will be going through the Michelin guide’s Bib Gourmand restaurants that I’ve eaten at during my stay at Seoul. For those that don’t know the difference between a Bib Gourmand and a Michelin star, a Bib Gourmand simply means the restaurant serves good food at moderate prices. As a note, we were unable to try any 1-3 Michelin star restaurants as we couldn't secure reservations on such short notice/without a Korean phone number. If you are not buying a SIM card with a phone plan, the next best thing you can do is to ask your hotel concierge to reserve you a seat, otherwise, it will be difficult. With that being said, here are my opinions on some of the highest-rated restaurants in Seoul, along with a few bonus reviews from restaurants recommended by locals and Mangoplate.

  • Oreno Ramen

  • Okdongsik

  • Menten

  • Myeongdong Kyoja (main branch)

  • Mokmyeoksanbang

  • Gebangsikdang

  • Udon Myeongga Giriyama

  • Tongkeun Galbi

  • Mobeom Galbisal

  • The Lounge

  • Umaido

1. Oreno Ramen

14 Dongmak-ro 6-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, 04072, South Korea

Seoul Michelin guide - Bib Gourmand (quality and value)

This was the first real meal we had after landing in Seoul and it was also the first of many ramen joints we tried in Korea. Some say it is one of the best ramens in Seoul. We were intrigued by this ramen shop in Seoul after seeing a short YouTube documentary about their meticulous process of creating the perfect ramen bowl. Oreno is located in a quieter area amongst the busy streets of Hongdae. Based on the second floor of a shop, you often see people lining up the stairs to take their orders off the little machine up front. The shop isn’t as small as others we have visited but not necessarily large either. If I had to describe the setting, I would say it was simple, clean, and just gets the job done.

For food, we ordered both types of ramen available. The Tori Paitan and its spicy counterpart. The broth was foamy and creamy, the noodles had the perfect chew that comes from fresh handmade noodles, and the chicken was moist and delicious (very peppery). My fiancé, a Michelin-trained chef, claimed it was the best ramen he’s ever had (though he’s never visited Japan so let’s just put that there). For myself, I think it’s certainly worth trying for the incredible price of $10/bowl. Admittedly, I’m a little biased in my comparison because I’ve had some of the best ramens in Tokyo. This is still a great option if you are not in Japan, but looking for something just as quality.

Final Verdict: I recommend it.

seoul michelin guide ramen

2. Okdongsik Seogyo 옥동식

44-10 Yanghwa-ro 7-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Seoul Michelin guide - Bib Gourmand (quality and value)

When we arrived at this location, 20 minutes before opening, there was already a long lineup of about 15 people ahead of us. The shop had a little machine up front where you can make reservations before the shop opens, but you need to have a Korean phone number in order to register for a spot in line. Since we didn’t have a Korean phone number, we just created a ticket with a fake number and later asked the owner to save our spot in line through that. As for the shop itself, it was very small, dim, and seated about ten people at a time. We were number 15 in line and had to wait about an hour (Including pre-opening time) before we finally got to go in.

The chef here makes one specialty dish only, and it is the dwaeji-gukbap. It is a clear broth soup with slices of pork over a bed of rice. The meal is accompanied by a small plate of pepper paste to go with the pork. It is said that only 100 bowls are made a day, so you may want to come early if you are keen on trying it. My personal opinion? I would have to say that I’m not a big fan. Coming from someone who often eats home-cooked meals (which I am very blessed and grateful for), it really just tasted like home. Obviously, this isn’t a bad thing, but I just felt like I’d had this meal a thousand times over before. If you are expecting to be wowed, this isn’t it, but if you’re expecting a meal of warmth and home, this might be for you. Just a relevant note though, it seemed like locals absolutely love it. To be fair it was only $10/meal (keeping in mind tax is included and tipping isn’t a thing here), so I do see the value. I say try it if you’re curious but I think there’s a lot more exciting food out there.

Final Verdict: I don’t recommend it.

3. Menten Ramen

305 Samil-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul, 04537, South Korea Seoul Michelin guide - Bib Gourmand (quality and value)

During our stay in Myeongdong, we heard about Menten, another ramen joint in Seoul. We had previously walked past the restaurant before and seen the massive lineup, so we decided to come before opening the second time around. To our surprise, we discovered the restaurant only seats 4 people at a time (3 when we went in because the other person came alone), with the dishes being prepared by a single chef. It was a very unique, beautiful, and intimate experience. The place was small, minimal, and very classy (he plays jazz music in the background as you eat).

The restaurant only offers two dishes, the shoyu ramen, and their tantanmen. I opted for the shoyu ramen and was pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of the meal (while still being very delicious). The broth was dark and clear, it had a couple of bamboo shoots and slices of pork. It is not the typical heavy, creamy ramen that you might be expecting so keep that in mind. I noticed the chef would check the customer's bowl to see if they finished so we made an effort to empty it clean haha. I recommend going early so you don’t have to wait.

Final Verdict: I recommend it.

4. Myeongdong Kyoja

29 Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Seoul Michelin guide - Bib Gourmand (quality and value)

Located in the heart of Myeongdong shopping street, this establishment was hard to miss once you see the lineup forming right outside the restaurant. The place appeared small at first until you realized it branches out in several directions, connecting in a sort of chaotic way. It’s very cramped inside, and you are likely going to sit neck to neck amongst strangers, divided by a thin plastic sheet per table. Frankly, this type of eating environment was a little too chaotic for my liking but I can see the appeal. I’d like to also note that when we brought this restaurant up to a local a few days later, they also raved about the food. The lines are long but before you know it, you will be seated. The staff works like a well-oiled machine. They are incredibly fast with a no-nonsense attitude (some might consider it rude or lacking service, but if you know how these kinds of establishments run, you know it’s just the way it is). You will be in and out in 15 minutes as they sort of rush you through the whole process.

They have a small menu but they’re very specialized in what they do. We ordered the spicy cold noodles and a seasonal item, their soybean cold noodles. Their spicy cold noodles were amazing, flavourful, and spot on. I wouldn’t recommend their seasonal soybean cold noodle though, as we found it a little bland (and grainy). Many people ordered their noodle soup and dumplings when I was looking around, and they looked delicious. Their kimchi was fantastic and very garlicky, which should be noted as a signature of theirs. Ultimately, the meals were only around $11, it was tasty and you will be in and out in no time, so what’s stopping you from trying?

Final Verdict: I recommend it.

5. Mokmyeoksanbang

71 Toegye-ro 20-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Seoul Michelin guide - Ex-Bib Gourmand (quality and value)

This was quite the trek to get to, but to be fair I did choose to walk instead of taking the bus, so the uphill battles were on me. Towards the direction of Namsam Tower, you’ll find this little nook of a restaurant. It was a simple restaurant, rather roomy and done in a self-serve style. It was on the Michelin guide from 2017-2019 but failed to receive further awards the years after, hence the Ex-Bib Gormand in the title above. Regardless I had hopes that it would be amazing, as I never really had bibimbap that blew my mind yet. There were very mixed reviews of Mangoplate, some stating it was the best bibimbap they’ve had, while others stated it was less than mediocre. It felt like a gamble but we were in the area and figured why not. There was already a small lineup by the time it opened at 5:30 PM.

You order from their little machine up front and take a buzzer with you. The food came quickly as they organized and set up all the side dishes ahead of time on their front counter. The presentation was beautiful, with the meal looking like a deconstructed bibimbap that you had to mix together yourself. Alas, it fell short and the food was ultimately really bland and boring. I also really didn’t like the beansprout soup and their version of kimchi that came with it. I really wanted to like this one, but it just wasn’t it.

Final Verdict: I don’t recommend it.

6. Gebang Sikdang

17 Seolleung-ro 131-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South korea

Seoul Michelin guide - Bib Gourmand (quality and value)

This place was packed the moment it opened. If we had arrived any later than two minutes after opening, we would have been turned away as there would have been no spots left for those that didn’t make a reservation. We saw this happen as customers started rolling in without a reservation being turned down. The restaurant is very simply set up, with a high counter set up all along the wall, and a row in the middle. It was, like most restaurants here, very simple, clean, and minimal. I especially appreciated their little table setup.

While I can’t say much about the food since this is not something I eat often or regularly, my fiancé said it was his favorite meal of the entire trip. He continues to rave about it now that we are back home. The dish is accompanied by several sides including a large soup. This was also the first time I got to try the other type of seaweed (we watched a long documentary about how it is made so I was very keen to try it), and it tasted surprisingly bitter but great to pair with the crab. While it was slightly more expensive than other places we have dined, It is a great valued meal considering the portion of fresh seafood you are given.

Final Verdict: I recommend it.

Honourable Mentions of Other Restaurants We Tried

7. Udon Myeongga Giriyama

824-11, Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 한라클래식 B1

Local’s Recommendation & Mangoplate

Located by Gangnam station, this restaurant was a little bit of a hard find. You had to go down a narrow stairway where you are taken to an underground area. We were circling the streets for a little bit. When we got there, we were greeted by a doorway pasted with numerous local food awards. The restaurant was very spacious with a washroom located just outside of it.

I’m a big lover of tempura and noodles so I could be biased but I absolutely loved this meal. As you can see the tempura was actually crispy here (unlike a previous tempura restaurant we went to in Seoul). The noodles were the perfect texture and the broth was light, flavourful, and, delicious. I saw many people order the cold soba and sushi here but we didn’t get the chance to try it. All in all, a great meal at a fantastic price point of around $10/meal.

Final Verdict: I recommend it.

8. Tongkeun Galbi 통큰갈비

151 Eoulmadang-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul

Our Own Find

There are two branches of this KBBQ restaurant. We went to the Hongdae location during the typhoon, so it was fairly empty. We opted for the all-you-can-eat pork shoulder for $13.50 a person, which is unheard of here in North America. Supposedly it used to be only $12 a person prior to inflation. It was a fairly large restaurant with a very homey feel to it.

This KBBQ place uses a charcoal grill, which made everything taste amazing. There were a good number of sides and dips as well. I enjoyed it, it gets the job done, and for a ridiculously low price for all you can eat, what is there to not love? Go stuff yourself.

Final Verdict: I recommend it.

9. Mobeomgalbisal Gangnam 모범갈빗살

38, Seocho-daero 73-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul

Mangoplate Recommendation

Located behind the busy area by Gangnam station, it’s a great stop if you want to be around the area to shop and explore. It is a boujee version of the charcoal KBBQ compared to the all-you-can-eat one we had back in Hongdae. This place was set up really beautifully. It had high ceilings and they sat their customers around a curved table facing one another. The vents attached to the table were extremely powerful and we left with no KBBQ smell on us at all, as many reviews also exclaimed.

It was around $24 a person, with their stews costing around $6 if you want to add it on. It came with a free stew as well, along with several side dishes and dips. There were onions, radishes, seaweed, mushroom, and a very western-tasting coleslaw. I have to say though, the kimchi squid was delicious. This was also my first time being given wasabi with my KBBQ and I absolutely loved it and will not be looking back.

Final Verdict: I recommend it.

10. Nangman Izakaya 강남낭만

​​28-14 Teheran-ro 1-gil, Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Our Own Find

Again, located right by Gangnam station and quite literally across the street from Mobeom KBBQ, this yakitori spot was a cool little find we happened to stumble into. The interior and ambiance were perfect, as it was dimly lit, decked out with lanterns, and decorated with lots of traditional elements. The place served a variety of food, specializing in skewers and stews it seemed. You order from a little tablet attached to the table, but be sure to download Google Translate and use the camera option when surfing the menu as there is absolutely no English at all.

We tried a couple of skewers including the spicy chicken skewer with rice cakes (Dakkochi), the Korean omelet (Gyeran Mari Skewer), and the chicken heart. They were all super cheap and delicious. They also provided us with unlimited free rice crackers which I loved and definitely took advantage of. It was certainly a fun place to hang out, drink, and grab a few bites. I really enjoyed it.

Find Verdict: I recommend it.

11. The Lounge (High Tea at Park Hyatt Gangnam)

South Korea, Seoul, Gangnam-gu, Teheran-ro, 606

A friend who frequents Seoul cafe’s recommendation

I am not one to really enjoy high tea as I’m not a big fan of sweets or pastry, but my fiancé had insisted we go for the experience and to celebrate our engagement shoot. We arrive at the hotel (which smelled great btw) and were met with impeccable service from start to finish. They gave me a cute little chair to place my bag too. The restaurant was located on the 24th floor, so you get this floor-to-ceiling view while enjoying your meal. The whole place was absolutely beautiful, from the decor, the table set up, and the ambiance. There was actually an indoor swimming pool located in view of the restaurant too so that was rather interesting. Halfway into the meal, they fully raised the curtains as they seem very conscious of not blinding their customers with the beaming sunlight at certain hours of the day.

It was about $61/person and you are given a choice of tea/coffee, one glass of champagne, fruits, savory pastries, sweet pastries, and a chocolate pop. As someone who doesn’t really enjoy sweets or pastry as I mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed the food and experience. My favorite bite was their carbonara abalone, which was phenomenal. It’s a bit of a treat-yourself-experience that I would recommend to finish off a great trip.

Final Verdict: I recommend it.

12. Umaido ramen 우마이도

3-29, Hwayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul

Mangoplate Recommendation

We found this ramen joint on MangoPlate and it seemed very well received by locals. Scoring a solid 4.0 with 248 reviews, it seemed worth it to try as we were nearby. I was especially curious how it would compare to Oreno, the Michelin bib gourmand ramen joint from earlier. It was a pretty small shop with only a few seats available.

We ordered one Tonkatsu Shio Ramen and its spicy counterpart. What I did love was that the restaurant provided the garlic graters which appeared to be at every ramen joint in Japan. What I didn’t like was everything else. The ramen was fine, but not memorable. The noodles were not as fresh as Oreno's and didn’t have that same chew. The broth wasn’t very creamy (in fact it appeared a little thin), nor did it have outstanding flavor. Maybe it’s a personal thing, but I just don’t seem to like bean sprouts being put in my ramen, it doesn’t feel very authentic.

Final Verdict: I do not recommend it.

Have you tried any restaurants from this list, and if not, which one do you have your eye on? Don't forget to follow me on Instagram @Wanderlustts to stay updated on my latest travel. If you're interested in all things Korea, check out my Korea story highlights as well!

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