This gem grew from the success of the owner’s shop where he sold homemade biltong (cured meat) and sausages. Now that it’s a fully-fledged restaurant, expats and locals come for a full range of South African treats from grilled lamb chops to meat pies baked fresh to order. First timers should order the meat platter to share, to taste a bit of everything. It comes with two lamb chops, two different sausages and three side dishes. Be sure to ask for some peri peri sauce if you like a bit of spice; it's made from the owner’s own recipe and complements the sausages perfectly.
Insider Tip: This laid-back eatery is incredibly popular. If you plan on visiting between 6pm and 9pm (the restaurant’s busiest time), call at least an hour before so that they can fit you in.
Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Tel: 82 708 879 1967
This craft brewery in the expat enclave of Noksapyeong started the microbrewing revolution in Korea and now has four locations. It serves a fresh and natural selection of beers named after places in Korea, such as the deliciously creamy Baekdusan Hefeweizen – named after Baekdu Mountain– which has strong notes of banana. Craftworks also has a garden patio – a rare find in high-rise Seoul.
Insider Tip: Visit on a Tuesday night with a group of friends when the delicious BBQ Platter costs only 19,000 won.
For a quick, healthy lunch, tuck into a bowl of bibimbap – rice topped with vegetables, meat, fish or tofu, and a fried egg. Whilst most Korean restaurants offer just gochujang (chilli paste) to mix it all up with, Bibigo – with its modern take on the Korean staple – offers other sauces including sesame, citron soy and ssamjang (a thick, spicy sauce).
Insider Tip: The beauty of this place is you don’t have to stick with a set menu – you’re free to create your own combinations. For a super virtuous meal, try brown rice, tofu and green sesame sauce.
Go to Jihawaja if you want to eat like a king. It’s the first restaurant in Korea to serve traditional Korean Royal Palace Cuisine to the general public. With its interior inspired by the aesthetic of royal palaces, and courses presented on plates like works of art, this is a meal you won’t forget in a hurry.
Insider Tip: Since most of the a la carte offerings are likely to be unfamiliar, opt for one of the Course Menus, which take care of all the decisions for you. The “Gungjung Jinchan” (Royal Court course) for instance, takes you from appetisers such as kimchi and porridge, through to soup, middle and main courses, before finally landing on dessert.
Worlds away from the fusion Italian cuisine popular in much of Korea, Paolodemaria is the real deal. Owned by Italian chef Paolo De Maria, the restaurant has been given the stamp of approval – the Ospitalita Italiana Quality certification – by his native country. Like an authentic trattoria, the food here changes with the seasons, yet remains modern and light. Traditional dishes done well include four season pizza, carbonara pasta and Mediterranean style sea bass.
Insider Tip: For those who wish to dine under chef De Maria's tutelage, he offers a chef's table on the second floor. Here he cooks from a customised fine dining menu and elaborates on the subtleties of Italian cuisine.