125 Hongje-dong, Jongno-gu
HOURS: Daily noon-3 p.m. and 6-10 p.m.
COST: Entrées more than ₩25,000
SUBWAY: Gyeongbokgung (Line 3)
Plenty of restaurants try to evoke Korea’s storied past, but Seokparang is a genuine piece of it. It occupies part of the former villa of Prince Heungson Daewongun (1821-1898), father to King Gojong, the penultimate monarch of the Joseon dynasty.
The villa is a designated cultural property, and several important relics were used in its construction, including roof tiles said to be over 1,000 years old and a stone wall imported from Tianjin, China. Seated in one of its storied rooms, being served dishes on antique vessels by staff in elegant traditional dress, it’s easy to get swept up in the atmosphere here.
The elegance is carried on in Seokparang’s set menus, which highlight royal standards such as gujeolpan (a platter of thin crepes stuffed with accompanying cuts of meat and vegetables) and sinseollo (an elaborate stew of meatballs and mushrooms in a rich broth).
About the only thing that might bring diners back down to earth is the cost—cultural and culinary experiences like this don’t come cheap, with meals starting in the ₩50,000 per person range.