Monday, May 8, 2017

S.T.A.Y. by Yannick Alléno (Seoul, SOUTH KOREA) ★★★☆☆

We didn't get to celebrate mom's birthday last month because something bad cropped up in the family. After the dust has finally settled, I thought I should bring the "birthday girl" to the newly opened S.T.A.Y. by Yannick Alléno for a make-up birthday lunch while we were still in Seoul.

Located on the eighty-first floor of the newly opened 6-star Lotte Signiel Hotel, S.T.A.Y. (Simple Table Alléno Yannick) is brought to us by award-winning French chef Yannick Alléno. This is the fourth S.T.A.Y. in the world following openings in Paris, Dubai and Taipei. I thought it's kind of funny how things play out. For almost 2 years, it's been rumoured that chef Alléno would be bringing this fine-dining concept to Hong Kong and we have been patiently waiting till our heads almost fall off our necks. But at the end of the day, he picked Seoul over us (and who could blame him!).

Obviously, I have picked a bad day to come here. The sky is so hazzy that for a moment, I thought I was in Beijing.

The restaurant offers a fairly limited a la carte menu and on top of that, there're 3 special lunch menus available. There's the 2-course "STAY Principal (₩58,000), 3-course STAY Choice (₩66,000/₩76,000) and 4-course STAY fun (₩98,000). (Somebody, please think of 3 better names!!!)

We were feeling a little hungry today so all three of us took a flyer on STAY fun. And kicking things off was our amuse bouche featuring a potato chip with beetroot purée, foie gras in wine jelly and a pretty airy cheese puff.

First course of the menu was a refreshing plate of king crab salad.

Hiding underneath the shell were layers of romaine lettuce and king crab meat, diced fruit and vegetables. It's almost like mille feuille but with king crab salad and lettuce in between each layer. I thought it was pretty refreshing and I was eating it like a Chinese lettuce wrap using the olive tapenade on the bottom as the dip.

Next up was escargot fricassee, a dish with a little more sophistication and thought than the previous one. The Burgundy snails were served with different textures of potato, a foam as well as poached and diced in cubes, while some bacon and parsley purée provided the finishing touch. I still like my escargot fricassee from Seasons by Olivier E a little better but this was pretty good. Never thought parsley and potato would do well with escargot but they proved me wrong.

For my main dish, I had myself some French duck. This was served with its own jus.

It was pretty decent but definitely nowhere near what I had at Soigné and Mingles before. They have the best roasted duck in Seoul from a French restaurant.

Serving the roasted duck with a slice of roasted mango topped with caramel and cashew was a real head scratcher.

Right before dessert, we were offered a tour to the Pastry Library in the middle of the dining room where the pastry chefs were working diligently with our desserts.

At the same time, we got to choose our own petite fours and even some homemade gelato on the other side of the bench.

"Pomme d'amour" flavored with fresh raspberry was without a question the better of the two desserts.

Chocolate and coconut dominos, they called it with some cherries and what I thought was a bit of red wine. Both the presentation and taste were really not up to par (and the fallen cherry has gone undetected).

After spending 2+ hours here, it's time to check out the neighbouring area which includes Seokchon Lake. But first a few shots of Lotte World sitting right underneath us.

Lotte Signiel is an absolute skyscraper overlooking the city.

Oh, there's Seokchon Lake I was looking for. With five little ducks too!

My expectation was at an all-time high coming in especially after a very successful visit to S.T.A.Y. Taipei a few years ago but only to find that it's a few notches down from where it's supposed to be. To me, the cuisine here was way too simple and unsophisticated to be considered French haute cuisine and it's definitely not worthy of that heavy price tag.

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: ₩₩₩₩
Address: 81/F, Lotte Signiel Seoul, 300 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Closest Metro Station: Jamsil
Tel: +82 2-3213-1230

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