When in Seoul we stayed at the Grand Hilton. It was absolutely gorgeous and they took amazing care of us. It was in the mountains in the Northwest part of Seoul and our room had an amazing view. It was seated on a mountain so they conveniently had a courtesy van sitting at the hotel entrance waiting for new arrivals to drive us (and all of our luggage!) up to the hotel for check-in. Good idea Hilton!
We travel in style.
For our first night in Seoul we kept it simple. I think the travel there was a little exhausting for both of us. The concierge made us reservations for dinner at N Grill within Seoul Tower (aka Namsan Tower) for 8 o’clock. In our downtime we made a video of our hotel room (cause that’s what all the cool kids do!) and rested and showered before dinner. You can see our hotel video here. Pardon my raspy sick voice, three weeks of yellow dust (a blog to come later) was really hard on me.
Tuesday was our big evening out so we dressed up and headed out a little after 7. Seoul Tower is the highest point in Seoul and can be seen from most anywhere in the city. N Grill is the high-end restaurant within the tower and rotates a full 360 degrees every 80 minutes(ish). Taxis will take you most the way up the mountain, but you are still expected to hike a decent amount from the transportation drop off to the base of the Tower.
Everything was beautiful and the food was delicious, though it was a little different than what both of us expected. The moment I saw the words “French Restaurant” when we first walked in I knew there would be some difficult menu items for the both of us. But especially for my cheeseburger and chicken sandwich loving friend. I have recreated the menu the best my memory will allow. It was a lot of new things for Allison so props to her for being a good sport and trying everything!
Our meal began with an amuse-bouche of a sardine over crouton, with capers and tomato paste. I think this was where Allison had a small stroke.
For our first course Allison chose the smoked bluefin tuna with marinated peppers and I chose the serano ham with artichoke and mushrooms. Mine was delicious! Allison said hers was “too tuny” which I can only assume is the adjective meaning “tasting too much like tuna.”
For the soup course we both chose the pumpkin soup with sage and smoked gouda. It was so flavorful, we both loved it!
Next was the hot appetizer and we chose the same thing again, squid with asparagus. For both of our sakes, I was really hoping the squid was served fried so we wouldn’t be able to see the tentacles. It wasn’t but it was fairly unthreatening once it was served. It wasn’t bad but squid doesn’t seem to offer much flavor, I don’t think. This was probably the only thing on the menu that made me uneasy prior to ordering but the other hot appetizer option was foie gras, which I have a moral opposition to.
We both had the ribeye with grilled garlic and mashed potatoes for our main course. And we both enjoyed it immensely.
For the dessert, Allison enjoyed strawberry meringue and I had a caramel banana crème dessert. A+ for both desserts!
It’s worth noting that if you planning a night out to include dinner at N Tower most websites will tell you the price point is $45-70 per individual. Those are lunch prices. Actual price point is $85-115. It’s worth every penny and they had an extensive wine menu (which is a rarity in Korea) but I thought it was worth the notation.
After dinner and picture taking we began our trek back down the mountain to catch a cab. Much to our surprise the woman at the convenience store notified us that there will be no more taxis this evening. Period. No additional detail, just that no more taxis would be arriving since the Tower had closed. After a few minutes of me fiercely refusing to climb down a mountain in heels at nearly midnight, and therefore standing right in the middle of her store, she decided to let us know there would be a bus available shortly that would take us down so we would be able to catch a cab.
We took the bus to a street that was lined with hotels assuming the quantity of taxis would be high. We were right and we climbed inside what was to be the most memorable cab ride of Allison’s stay. The driver was highly amused by my less than efficient Korean vocabulary and in turn drove like we were storming out of the bat cave. With every an-ne-YO! (no!), ha-ji-ma! (don’t!), jay-bal ha-ji-ma! (please don’t!) he giggled and drove faster. I seem to have that affect on people.
I will leave you with a few pictures from both inside and out of the tower. Enjoy!
Allison looking for North Korea…
The highest post office in Seoul.
They had a wall where you could purchase a tile. Don’t all tourist spots have these now? This one made me cry a little bit.
This might be my favorite picture I’ve taken. I’m quite pleased with it.
Beginning the hike back down the mountain to catch a cab/bus/train/magic carpet to get back to the hotel.