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32 Seoul restaurants win Michelin stars amid COVID-19 plight

According to Yonhap News,

By Chung Joo-won
SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) -- The Michelin Guide on Thursday announced the 2021 Michelin Guide for Seoul, awarding stars to 32 restaurants here that offer extraordinary cuisine.

This year's awards, livestreamed in light of the pandemic, featured a total of 178 Seoul restaurants, the same as last year.

Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guide, said this year's Seoul selection stood out in terms of harmony and innovation in style, in spite of the plight sparked by the pandemic.

"I am particularly pleased to celebrate with you the courage and resilience of the chefs who have given their best every day, even during this unprecedented crisis," he said.

"(This year,) we have seen an evolution in the styles of cuisine offered, with chefs who do not hesitate to break codes to broaden their customers' culinary experience," he added.

The highest honor of three stars, which recognizes "exceptional cuisine worth a special journey," was extended to two Korean traditional fine dining restaurants: Gaon and La Yeon. These two high-end eateries have retained the honor for the past five years.

Gaon, operated by the ceramic maker Kwangjuyo Group, is committed to introducing the aura of Korean cultural grace to the global gastronomic scene. Each dish is made from the organic union of seasonal ingredients and condiments, completed with delicate ceramic and metalware and design of the space.

La Yeon, located on the 23rd floor of Shilla Hotel, features the quintessence of Korean haute cuisine enriched with modern interpretation. The capital's flavors are presented with selective wine pairings and a liberating mountain view that includes Namsan Tower.

Michelin's two-star roster remained unchanged from last year, with seven restaurants dubbed "excellent cuisine worth a detour." The honor was presented to traditional Korean cuisine restaurant Kwonsooksoo; contemporary dining restaurants Mingles, L'Impression and Jungsik; innovative establishments Mosu and Alla Prima; and Kojima, which specializes in sushi.

Twenty-three Seoul restaurants received one-star recognition, up one entry from a year ago. Four spots -- contemporary restaurants 7th Door and L'Amant Secret, and Japanese restaurants Muni and Mitou -- were newly selected.

Michelin acknowledged 7th Door's art of fermentation and aging, along with L'Amant Secret's fresh ingredients and friendly service. Muni celebrates traditional Japanese cuisine, run by a chef with a sake sommelier license. Mitou was praised for its original omakase made of fresh seasonal ingredients.

The 2021 Michelin Young Chef Award went to Joseph Lidgerwood of one-star contemporary restaurant EVETT. The Michelin Mentor Chef Award was extended to Cho Hee-sook of one-star Korean cuisine restaurant Hansikgonggan.

"With one of the most diverse gastronomic themes in the world, Seoul is a city like no other," Poullennec said.

"Rich of strong culinary heritage, Korean cuisine is harmoniously balanced between ancestral traditions and innovation -- both aspects make great tools for inspiration for chefs."

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Source: Yonhap News (Nov 19, 2020)

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