A pleasant paradise serving Cantonese cuisineEver had a terrible, I mean really terrible Chinese meal? If you have, you can probably still taste the oil.
How about a superlative Chinese meal? If so, your mouth probably waters each time you recall the interplay of flavors, textures and cooking styles.
Need a refresher on greatness? Baekwon is the place. Part of the Seoul City Club, Baekwon, along with the club’s other restaurants, is open to non members.
Most of the food is Cantonese cuisine prepared by Fang Jun-king, who previously worked at the Shilla hotel. Beijing and Szechuan dishes are also available, but Mr. Fang’s focus is on southern China.
Baekwon offers three menus ― a family menu, a set menu and an a la carte menu ― accommodating a range of needs, tastes and wallets. Set-course dinners start at 32,000 won ($26.70) and go to 170,000 won. If you like the idea of shaping your own destiny, or have a hankering for exotic dishes such as ostrich, there’s a wide range of selections on the a la carte menu to create your own multicourse dinner.
Trying out the set “Hae” (Sea) menu provides a great introduction to the restaurant’s offerings. The combination of dishes, costing 85,000 won, results in a meal that leaves one yearning for more.
Shark’s fin simmered in a light broth with bamboo shoots makes an excellent appetizer. The delicate shreds of shark’s fin whet the appetite. And the soup is in such high demand that the chef always has shark fin ready to simmer, making the cooking time relatively brief.
The fried sea cucumber stuffed with minced shrimp is a treat for the taste buds. It’s pungent, with a slightly peppery sting, the perfect foil for the dish that follows.
Capping the meal is abalone with black moss sauce, a delightful, soothing Cantonese dish.
Baekwon is a very private affair: there are seven private rooms in addition to its dining room, which has just 10 tables. Baekwon is often booked for private parties, and its location near the National Assembly makes it a place where lawmakers gather regularly for closed-door meetings.
An English menu is available, and the staff, mostly veterans from big-name hotels in Seoul, also speak English. Their service is exceptional.
Baekwon roughly translates as “pleasant paradise.” In this case, paradise is expensive, but the food is practically unrivaled among Chinese restaurants in Seoul.
Telephone: (02) 781-9655
Address: 12th floor of the CCMM Building in Yeouido
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., 5:30-10 p.m. daily, except Sundays and holidays.
Reservations required one day in advance.
Credit cards: Accepted
by Brian Lee