Itaewon adds another European eatery, offering French, Italian and Greek fare

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Itaewon adds another European eatery, offering French, Italian and Greek fare

How does Continental food for the price of Korean noodles sound?

A new deli in Itaewon, Delices, is offering satisfying, sophisticated fare at street-food prices. Among its steady sellers since opening two months ago: lasagna and tomato soup.

The lasagna (5,000 won or $4.25) is thick and filling, layered with savory tomato sauce, ricotta cheese and pasta. The tomato soup has a refreshingly bright orange hue and is assertive, made from ripe tomatoes and cream.

This week, the chef Gregory Defraize added turkey soup (3,900 won) to the menu. He makes the stock with bones, vegetables and herbs, later adding the turkey meat to give it texture.

Another hit is the Florentine sandwich, grilled vegetables on ciabatta bread: zucchini and eggplant are sliced, seasoned and grilled; red bell peppers are sliced and marinaded in fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil; raisins are soaked overnight. Mozzarella cheese and fresh tomatoes are layered on top before olive oil is sprinkled on.

Warning: Don't call this sandwich simple. "No way, it takes such a long time to make it!" says Mr. Defraize in a thick French accent. The 20-year-old came to Korea in August, after graduating from a cooking school near his hometown of Chambery, in the Rhone-Alps region near France's border with Italy.

This week's set menus (9,500 won) feature chicken curry, moussaka or lasagna. Each comes with a choice of soup or salad and a cup of strong coffee. The chicken curry is served with basmati rice. The curry is sweet, light and creamy.

Moussaka, from Greece, is sauteed ground beef layered with eggplant and tomatoes -- an ideal match with a baguette.

Delices serves Arlette herb tea (5,000 won for 4-5 persons) imported from Paris. The tea has hints of licorice, camomile, mint and more.

Every weekend, Mr. Defraize discusses the next week's options with Benjamin Joinau, the owner of Le Saint Ex, a partner in this venture.

Mr. Defraize incorporates Mr. Joinau's Provencal influence into his dishes, resulting in lighter fare. "My cooking used to involve heavy cream because I grew up in the mountains where Reblochon cheese is made," he says. "I'm doing the basics now, but will try my favorites -- tortes and crepe cake -- later."

by Ines Cho
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