Seoul’s celebrity-owned restaurants

Seoul’s celebrity-owned restaurants

Eateries owned by Hallyu stars give fans a chance to directly fork over their cash to their favorite celebs

Korea is rapidly becoming known for two things, its food and celebrities. So it’s no wonder that the combination of the two has attracted attention.

If you’re all about the hallyu stars, but don’t want to sacrifice a few meals while staking them out, check out some of the most popular restaurants owned by Korean celebs.

Gorilla in the Kitchen: Bae Yong-joon

Bae YongjoonBae Yong-joon cares about you. That's why he won't give you any butter.
Gorilla in the Kitchen, one of the most-respected celeb-owned restaurants, is all about healthy food and the well-being lifestyle.

You’ll find no butter or cream in the kitchen and minimal salt in your food -- a welcome change from the typically sodium-saturated Korean plate.

The diet-conscious can go for the “human-sized” portions (larger sizes are called “gorilla”), while the health-conscious can order combo meals, which in turn will get you a free health consultation on your sugar levels before and after meals. Although Gorilla in the Kitchen is known as Yonsama’s restaurant, the interior is surprisingly devoid of Bae Yong-joon paraphernalia.

It’s about the food here, not the famous owner.

650 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu (강남구 신사동 650) +82 (2) 3442 1688,

11 a.m.-11 p.m. (weekdays), 10 a.m.-11 p.m. (weekends);  ₩7,000-9,000 for smoothies; ₩19,000-

52,000 for meals


Yook-Chil-Pal (678): Kang Ho-dong

Kang HodongThumb meat not menu. Many other types are.
Owned by Kang Ho-dong, king of variety shows and eating, 678 serves -- what else? -- meat.

The restaurant even has its own annoyingly catchy theme song: "When you think about pork, 6-7-8, when you think about beef, 6-7-8 ... what Kang Ho Dong eats everyday!”

Other than Kang’s involvement, there’s nothing too different about this chain of restaurants, though that was probably the heavyweight funnyman’s intent. The focus is on simple, good meat and cheap drinks. Highlights include the premium beef from Jeju Island, and the galbi-jjim, which comes in three styles, mild, spicy and “cheese.”

637-13 Gangnam-gu Sinsa-dong (신사동 강남구 637-13); +82 (2) 540 6678, 

11 a.m.-4 a.m.; ₩23,000-52,000 for meat, ₩5,000-7,000 for other dishes

Time Out Gelato: Micky Yoochun

YoochunSomething is always melting -- or smoldering -- at Time Out Gelato.
Though Micky Yoochun opened Time Out Gelato shop as a present for his mother, the store is consistently packed with fan girls hoping if not to get a glimpse of the boyband star, to at least bask in the aura of one of the former “gods of the East.”

Though the Time Out Gelato Bars franchise originated in Thailand, the gelato is produced on site, from ingredients and machines imported from Italy. 

While listening to Micky’s music may be a guilty pleasure, eating his gelato is not: the fruit flavors are 100 percent fat free, while the milk flavors are 94 percent fat free.

580 Asia Building 1/F, Shinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu (강남구 신사동 580 아시아 빌딩 1층) +82 (2) 3448 0604

11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., ₩2,000-4,500

Yeolbong: Se7en

Se7enSe7en is still hotter than his three-pepper sauce. But it's a close call.
Yeolbong would be considered a hole-in-the wall if not for its famous owner. But to make sure you don't miss the small chicken-jib, there’s a life-size cardboard cutout of Se7en waiting to usher you in.

While the real Se7en may not be around to receive you, a giant tree with photos of the celebrities (i.e. all of YG Family) who have visited is an acceptable alternative.

Most customers order the chicken-jjim (there’s not much else to get), but you can determine the level of heat (one-three peppers) and the size (small-large).

Warning: even the “one pepper” sauce is spicy, so if you're a wimp, get a carton of peach juice to cut the burn.

817-8 1/F Yeoksam-dong  Gangnam-gu (강남구 역삼동 817-8); tel +82 (2) 508 1011;

11 a.m.-11 p.m., ₩11,000-plus

Los Angeles-born Elizabeth Eun is a journalist who currently works at CJ E&M.  She lives on the Internet and in cafés.

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