Romantic Seoul: Help me find a date spot in the Special City
May 26, 2013 8:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm somewhat new to Korea and don't know much about the landscape of Seoul, but I'm taking a native Seoulite out to dinner on Tuesday night. What's a good date place in Seoul for a quiet dinner? The cuisine can be from any corner of the world, though I'd prefer if it were in the Hongdae or Sinchon corners of Seoul. That said, anything interesting would be appreciated. Thanks.
posted by charlemangy to Travel & Transportation around Seoul, South Korea (6 answers total)
There is (or at least was on my last visit 6 mths ago) a teeny Italian place at the intersection by the front gate of Hongik University. It's across the street from the bank and on the same side/next to? a fast food -- McDonalds I think. Good gnocchi. It's not super swank inside though and the lighting is on the brighter side, so if you're looking extra romantic this may not be it.

The cafe at the Sanwoolim Theater on the other side of Hongdae (heading towards Shinchon) - I want to say it's called Sakura? but not trusting my memory - is very adorable. I haven't been there in ages but when they first opened they served Okinawan taco rice. Also not super fancy, but has better "mood."

For romantic atmosphere, I think it might be worth it to trek to Seorae Village (near Bangbae station) where all the French restaurants have clustered. They are pricy, but should be some good ones.

Man, it's hard coming up with restaurant recommendations in a city that is always shifting. My actual favorite activity ever is going to one of the Han River parks and ordering chicken-and-beer delivery.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:14 AM on May 26, 2013

maybe the rehabilitated stream area? i don't know if that's in your part of town or not.
posted by cupcake1337 at 4:06 PM on May 26, 2013

(Background: Studied/lived in Seoul on and off 2009-2011.) I'm sure there are places, but Hongdae and Sinchon aren't the best for a quiet date. Tucked away from the clubs and hofs are some quieter streets... One I'm thinking of is a street or two removed from that big drag with the glass-house noraebang and many many drunk people. (Sorry I can't describe it better, but you'll know what I mean if you've been there.)

One place I remember in Hongdae is Stay with Kumpir. They serve Turkish jacket potatoes with various toppings. I remember the food was decent (but more snack-like than proper dinner) and it has a nice, casual atmosphere. What I really liked was the wall decor: IIRC, the servers give you a napkin or paper with the potato mascot on it and you can doodle while you wait for your food, and sometimes they put the drawings on the wall. It's cute and is also something to do while you wait for food. (This is a plus for me, in a date scenario... ha.) I guess it's kinda gimmicky, but fun.

Another place in Hongdae I liked was a small Japanese restaurant. I am pretty sure it's the one in this blog post with the yellow bike in front of it: Here. (The post is about the cat cafe next to it.) It's an izakaya-type place, I think.

If you're willing to take a ride on the subway, I would recommend Garosu-gil by Sinsa station. It's expensive, but that place has tons of nice cafes, restaurants, wine bars, people-watching, etc. And then you're not too far from Apgujeong, which is also expensive but can be fun. I'm sure they have these in Hongdae/Sinchon too, but I went to a few board game cafes in Apgujeong and that can be a fun date activity.

I hope I am not grossly misremembering these! Man, I wish I'd had Foursquare when I was living in Seoul, or had taken better notes (or fewer shots of soju). There are other places I can't remember enough details to even do a Google search.
posted by perryfugue at 9:00 PM on May 26, 2013

Best answer: I think perryfugue is spot-on. Hongdae and Sinchon are pretty much Itaewon with just a smidgen less broken glass and puke on a Friday night.

Garosugil is definitely a romantic spot and, if she's a native Korean, she might appreciate that it's the hippest part of the city right now.

As much as I'm loathe to recommend the pretty crap-tastic English language "lifestyle" magazines, browsing through something like 10 Magazine should have plenty of suggestions for romantic dinner spots.

I live in Daegu now, but with the warm weather definitely find a place with outdoor and/or open window seating.
posted by bardic at 1:12 AM on May 27, 2013

If you end up at Garosugil, get off the main drag and explore the side streets. The cafe I used to go to is on the end with Paper Garden and the taco joint. I'm a bit grouchy about Garosugil because that neighborhood exhibited price creep in the worst way. 10,000won Heinekens?

On a Tuesday night, Hongdae and Shinchon are fine. Heading towards Sangsu Station you'll find a ton of cafes a la Garosugil.
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:34 AM on May 27, 2013

Best answer: Lived there for 5 years and kept one of the country's more popular blogs (search for 'Chris in South Korea' for a few more ideas) :)

Hongdae is great for the nightlife, but only OK on the food side. This of course can change by the time you get there, naturally. Sinchon and the Ewha Woman's University area are more full of the cutesy stuff, which is still thankfully (somewhat) reasonably priced.

From Sangsu station there's a number of tiny restaurants and cafes along the main drag. A really good pizza place, and a teeny tiny restaurant (think one bar that runs along the window, no tables) where you kind of have to sit close to the other person...

Avoid Garuso-gil and Samcheong-dong like the plague - areas that put style over substance make blah food. Most of the Gangnam strip is like that as well, although a few places up the hill or along the side street are great. :)
posted by chrisinseoul at 11:27 PM on May 27, 2013

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