Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Ferrum Tower, a foodie mecca
Four premium restaurants drawing gourmands, more outlets coming
When Ferrum Tower opened last summer it looked every inch the slick office building. Slicing the firmament, this Dongkuk Steel-owned 28-story high skyscraper shouted corporate cool.
Located flush up against shopping-and-tourist hotspot Myeongdong, the new addition soon started attracting rave reviews from bloggers.
No, it wasn’t because of its stunning architectural prowess or because it first opened last summer. It was because a set of restaurants started setting up shop in November.
Paul Bassett, an upscale coffee shop, and the venerable Hanilkwan were among the first to open. Three authentic Japanese restaurants ― Anzu, Manten-Boshi and Yamaya ― soon followed in December. Then, in February, the famed Swiss chocolatier Teuscher opened its first South Korean outlet.
Word spread. Foodies came. They tasted. They conquered.
Then again, when there are only six venues to hit, it isn’t so hard to get around.
“Plans are to have more restaurants open on the second basement floor,” Ferrum Infra team head Ham Eun-seong said over the phone. “We are looking into bringing in stores that specialize in noodle dishes.”
Ham said that noodles were selected as a theme because of their mass appeal and that plans are to have the new shops open within this year.
At this point, it may be too early to call Ferrum Tower a food mecca. However, most of the establishments serve up good fare.
Here is a look at what the place has to offer.
Seoul has its fair share of tonkatsu shops, but the fried breaded pork cutlet at Anzu is crisp and feathery on the outside, tender and succulent on the inside.
Thick and round, rather than thin and flat, Anzu’s tonkatsu is about maximizing flavor and density per bite.
According to manager Cho Sung-ha and educational head Park Sung-yoon, the pork is brought in fresh and wet-aged for a week.
Anzu’s shrimp katsu ― translucent pink and plump ― is equally delicious.
Shiso cream salad sauce spices up the standard bed of finely shredded cabbage. Dessert in the form of tofu made from cream and ground apricot stones glides down the throat with silken, nutty ease.
Anzu is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Katsu-based set courses cost 14,500 won ($13) to 32,000 won. For more information call (02) 6353-8948.
Hailing from Japan, Manten-Boshi specializes in juicy hamburg steaks doused in a velvety demi-glace sauce. The key is in the sauce, which takes a week to make.
Yet, the best part about this restaurant is the fact that it makes excellent puddings. Quivering, soft and covered in golden, clear caramel sauce, each spoonful of custard imparts a sweet moment of bliss.
Manten-Boshi is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Hamburg steak dishes cost 15,000 won to 21,000 won. For more information call (02) 6353-8943.
Boasting nearly 80 years of history, this Swiss chocolatier creates mouthwatering morsels so tempting, so beautiful, they are hard to resist, none more so than Teuscher’s famed Champagne truffles crafted with Dom Perignon.
“People who know about Teuscher only order the Champagne truffles,” said Teuscher-Seoul CEO Shi Sung-jin.
Indeed, the upscale truffle is an ideal marriage of fragrant aromas and rich creamy textures. The kick at the end, more an elegant tap than a kick, is a pleasant reminder of its Champagne cream center.
Teuscher is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is closed Sundays. Chocolates cost 240 won per gram. Solid chocolates cost 200 won per gram. For more information call (02) 755-5004.
The historic hansik restaurant, which first opened in 1939, saddened many a loyal patron when it moved from its original Jongno spot to Sinsa-dong in 2008. In November, Hanilkwan opened a third outlet in Ferrum Tower, a location strikingly close to its old spot.
“Lots of customers missed us so we chose to open here,” said advisor Kim Dong-wol.
The menu is a bit more simplified than the main store in Sinsa-dong and there is a new walk-through area where customers in a rush can get food to-go.
“We offer complementary traditional Korean tea while you wait for your order,” said Kim.
Hanilkwan is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Popular half-course meals cost 11,000 won to 14,000 won. Korean donburi to-go costs 8,000 won to 9,000 won. For more information call (02) 1577-9963.
Yamaya specializes in motsunabe. Essentially a soup made from beef offal, motsunabe is considered a traditional dish of Fukuoka, Japan.
In a tatami-clad space that resembles an izakaya, customers can dip into steaming hot pots of authentic soup made from one out of three broths ― soy sauce, miso or ponzu sauce.
Yamaya is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Motsunabe per person costs 13,900 won. Lunch sets cost 13,000 won. For more information call (02) 6353-8946.
World Barista Championship 2003 winner Paul Bassett opened his first namesake cafe in Ginza, Tokyo, in 2005, serving up perfectly roasted brews to a nation responsible for the development of hand-drip coffee.
Here, at Bassett’s second South Korean outlet, espresso aficionados can tip back strong, full-bodied macchiatos or sip at intense yet creamy cappuccinos.
Paul Bassett is open from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays, till 6 p.m. Sundays. Coffee-based drinks cost 3,500 won to 5,000 won. For more information call (02) 6353-8991.
To get there, go to Euljiro 1-ga Subway Station Line 2, Exit 3. Ferrum Tower will be to your right. Teuscher and Paul Bassett are located on the first floor. Restaurants are on the first basement floor. ◦