Siwhadam, the only restaurant in Korea being a part of a global fellowship Relais & Châteaux, is located on the hills of Kyungnidan in Itaewon*. In Korean, a word Siwhadam consist of three syllables meaning: poetry, painting and story, and the restaurant desribes itself as “a place where poetic verses whisper themselves, colors from state-of-art pieces unfold, and endless stream of delightful stories flows“. Indeed, every dish being served at Siwhadam looks like a piece of art and there’s a story behind each of them.
The restaurant is open only for lunch and dinner and advance reservation at least 1 day ahead is required. If you would like to go there on the weekend, it’s better to make a reservation as early as possible since both options (lunch and dinner) on the weekend usually get fully booked in the middle of a week. While making a reservation, you have to decide on a menu. There are four courses available for lunch, and only three for dinner (B, C, D):
Course A : A Lyric Poem (100,000KRW)
Course B : A Beautiful Painting (150,000KRW)
Course C : Pleasant Story (250,000KRW)
Course D : Banquet for Gourmets (350,000KRW)
You can check the details of each of them by visiting the Siwhadam’s website.
After entering the restaurant, to make your time more pleasant and relaxing, you’ll be offered a cup of traditional tea in the lounge. All items showcased on the ground floor come from collections of Hans J. Wegner and Yin Jin Lee.
On second floor you will find a private room with a miniature garden and a traditional music performance stage.
All kitchens are open to the other areas, combining restaurant with a gallery of ceramics.
In each dining room you will find antique furniture, including a wardrobe where you can leave your belongings.
Every course menu starts with a snack made of dried seasonal fruits and vegetables. Each plate is decorated with sugar powder. Water served is made of the best quality white lotus flower.
Every dish comes with an English projection on the wall. The first one in the course I chose was a garlic porridge accompanied with small side dishes, roasted garlic and mugwort tea.
What comes next is a fresh salad with sliced sirloin.
And sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf and a lotus petal, served with hot tea brewed with fermented lotus leaves.
Korean style sandwich – instead of wheat bread and mayonnaise – is made of rice wine cake, bulgogi, vegetables and fine nut’s sauce as it was eaten by ancient scholars. The cucumber pickles are more sour than those usually served at Korean restaurants.
Probably the most interesting dish was sauted kimchi with squid ink spaghetti in cream cheese sauce. If you’re not a big fan of kimchi, you may change your mind after trying this.
Influenced by colors used in Henri Matisse’s paintings, this colorful dish made of vegetables, fruits, prawns and pine nuts mustard sauce visualizes a process of making sea salt.
Just like the previous dishes, “Snow Falling on the Mountain Village” is a real artwork. Mix the ingredients by yourself and enjoy a small bowl of noodles in fish broth.
The dessert is dedicated to jujube, a Korean date. Every plate comes with a poem and the wine cork is actually a cinnamon cookie.
If you want to try modern Korean fine dining, Siwhadam is definitely a place you’re looking for.
How to get there:
Address: 5-5 Itaewon-dong Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울 용산구 이태원동 5-5
(Siwhadam is located right across the street from the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines)
*Siwhadam has its branch in Insadong. The menu is quite similar, however it is not considered a fine dining restaurant. Serving and restaurant itself varies from the Itaewon branch. Prices start from 28,000KRW for lunch set.