Seoul, South Korea
What makes it special: In an unpretentious, light-filled room with stunning views over the rooftops of Seoul, chef Cho Hee-sook’s food epitomises hansik (Korean) cuisine. Using seasonal ingredients and a variety of cooking techniques, the team creates dishes that preserve the original flavour of the product, as per hansik technique, for a menu of intricate plates with maximum flavour.
Meet the chef: Long considered the godmother of Korean cuisine, Cho worked in Seoul’s most renowned hotels before cooking for the Korean ambassador to the US. She made it her life’s mission to elevate the status of her nation’s gastronomy, teaching and consulting while continually searching for deeper knowledge. After three years consulting at Hansikgonggan, in October 2019 she took over its running, earning it a spot in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants within just five months.
On the menu: Snacks including Bugak, thinly sliced vegetables or seaweed coated in glutinous rice paste then dried and deep fried, while dishes might include a porridge of blended rice and pine nuts topped with shrimp, scallop, shiitake mushroom and abalone.
Challenging stereotypes: While she remains one of the humblest chefs around, Cho has inspired and guided cooks across Asia with her knowledge and belief in the potential of Korean gastronomy. In 2020, she was awarded the title of Asia’s Best Female Chef for her tireless role as culinary ambassador and now she hopes to teach the world that Korean cuisine is more than just barbecue, kimchi and bibimbap.