A unique combination of tradition and innovation.
That's how the Michelin Guide described South Korea's gastronomy scene, revealing its 2020 edition for Seoul.
"While many culinary traditions still have a great influence on the cuisine, chefs also challenge the boundaries of creativity with very innovative and modern combinations."
Restaurants were ranked by anonymous reviewers based on Michelin's star-rating system, with one star meaning "a very good restaurant", two stars - "excellent cooking that is worth a detour", and three stars- "exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey".
"Michelin has been publishing its Seoul Edition since 2016, when Gaon and La Yeon, which serve authentic Korean cuisine, earned the maximum three stars. They have been able to retain their stars for three consecutive years. So ahead of today's announcement, there had been much attention on whether they will receive the top rating once again this year."
Gaon and La Yeon were once again awarded the highest honor, reflecting their past efforts to globalize and modernize Korean cuisine, while keeping tradition at their core.
Gaon's head chef Kim Byoung-jin has collaborated with New York-based restaurant Per Se, introducing a full Korean six course meal, while La Yeon has diversified its plating from a center-oriented style to a more dispersed style.
Seoul's restaurants have altogether gained 5 more stars compared to last year, for a total of 31 stars.
Two restaurants, Mosu and L'Impression, were bumped up one notch and now have two stars each and seven other restaurants received their first ever Michelin star.
"Our core focus is not how many stars we get, but how heartfully we cook. I think Michelin recognizes that, and we are thankful for that."
Michelin also gave credit to all the staff, working together with head chefs to upgrade South Korea's culinary delights year by year, offering even better dining experiences to locals and travellers.
Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News.