Review: N Seoul Tower's N Grill

Most Seoul visitors know about and make the trip to check out the N Seoul Tower on Namsan. This is especially more so now that it has become a pilgrimage site for all couples to flock to with those odd love locks and to profess their alleged "eternal love".

They can keep those locks as fewer know about the N Grill restaurant up on the fifth floor of the tower. At 373m, the advantage N Grill holds over other "view" restaurants is that it's located almost right in the center of Seoul. Thus, on clear days, one can enjoy a view from here of all directions.

The setting is stunning enough with enormous windows all around of Seoul and just a hint of glamour. The downside is that to get up here you board a rather gimmicky elevator ride that features a crummy 3D CG video of one's elevator ride apparently blasting into space. What space has to do with the N Seoul Tower is beyond me but once you get off from "space" the N Grill's picturesque setting and atmosphere is more than sufficient.


In addition to nearly floor-to-ceiling windows all around, the unique aspect of N Grill is that the entire restaurant rotates veryyyyyyyyy slowly. Thus over the entirety of one's meal and conversation, one can enjoy a 360 view of Seoul. On a separate note, this does make it a bit confusing to locate the restroom at times as the restrooms are located in the central "core" aspect of the tower, so if you go to the bathroom twice, you may have to do a little sleuth work to find where the restroom is presently located.


The rotation speed is slow enough that one doesn't really notice but it does apparently cause a bit of dizziness for those who are a little prone to it. And if you've helped yourself to a few glasses of wine in between as well then that only adds to those chances you may find it a bit woozy hehe. But really, how fantastic it is to be able to see nearly all of Seoul's major regions- Myeongdong, Gangnam, Jamsil, etc- and most of Seoul's top landmarks in one location?



Tablecloths, napkins, flower arrangements, and all the likes adds the bit of enchantment to the restaurant's overall atmosphere making it excellent for entertaining guests, parents, that special someone. Good atmosphere always helps incite good conversation I say and so, for a date, the N Grill is especially a nice choice. The changing views of Seoul's different regions also makes for great and new topics of conversation.


When it comes to the food, the N Grill is very proud to host head chef Duncan Robertson who not only comes from experiences in restaurants such as Nobu and L'atelier de joelle robuchon Paris but holds a Michelin star.

N Grill has menus for lunch, dinner, weekends, and a special couples menu with an extensive wine list.

For lunch, prices run between 50K and 90K in standard restaurant classics from pasta and steaks to fish and whatnot. The prices for the entrees includes an appetizer, soup and dessert. So, altogether, considering you're enjoying the atmosphere and privacy, not a bad value for lunch.

To kick the meals off, fresh and warm rolls are brought to the table with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The mini ciabatta and potato rolls were warm, pillowy soft on the inside and high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar provided on the side.



Fresh salmon, dill, capers, and the whole shebang. Very fresh, very balanced in flavors. Only wish there was more :)


A bit of a deconstructed ratatouille like dish came next for the appetizer with roasted vegetables, a bit of cheese, and a pesto puree and balsamic reduction. This was the only bit of a letdown. Neither very flavorful or memorable. I noticed a lot of the people I was with left this one unfinished.


The cream of mushroom soup with fresh cream, chopped chives, and drops of truffle oil. Neither too rich or overly salty, not bad at all.


The salad is decent but rather unseasoned in dressing and entirely unmemorable. Just a touch of something... artichoke, fresh olives, grilled orange... just something added would have made for a nice touch.


My main entree was the Korean beef tenderloin with applewood smoked bacon. When asking how I'd like it done, the server prefaced that their grills are a bit fiery so some find that ordering their steak's doneness just a step below their usual preference seems to fit their bill and so I went with rare to get it medium-rare.

Nothing too exciting about the plating as you can see and I was rather worried on first look that my tenderloin looked more medium well done than medium rare.



But cutting into the steak, I found it was quite medium-rare inside. In fact, just a notch rarer than I'd usually like but it was tender and flavorful enough that I finished everything. The smoky bacon adds a nice touch though I'm not sure the sides played as well together. The roasted peppers on the side was a bit of a luck of the draw. Some were just roasted peppers but others were quite spicy.


The dessert of frozen custard? (was it butterscotch or caramel? I can't entirely remember) with browned sugar on the side wasn't overly sweet. But again, nothing too memorable. The texture of the frozen cake, the sauce, the flavors of the melted browned sugar piece and crust of the dessert seemed rather juxtaposed together rather than working well together and I took a few bites before just focusing on my coffee and the view.



In the end, N Grill is a bit of a mixed bag for me. The food overall is decent and solid enough albeit it's a bit dull. The ingredients are all high quality, the dishes are overall fine but whether in flavor, plating, or just originality, there lacks a bit of excitement to it- especially when you consider the pedigree of the head chef. If even just a dish or two had a really "wow" factor to it that left an impression even after the visit, it would have been nice but everything was simply, "just nice".

Any other high-end restaurant would have to put in more effort than "just nice" to make it but perhaps the auspicious location and unforgettable setting above the N Seoul Tower is the N Grill's compensation for the restaurant as a whole.

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars
While the atmosphere and incomparable views sets itself apart from other high-end restaurants, the food is solid albeit uninspiring. Even a slight push on boundaries would be exciting but the big draw is the view itself which is almost unparalleled. 

Address: 
서울특별시 용산구 남산공원길 105 N서울타워
105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsandong 2(i)-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul


There are a number of ways to get to N Seoul Tower which includes the cable car, the yellow Namsan buses, and even walking (from the Grand Hyatt for example, it's a reasonable 35-40 minutes hike). 

For a full list of transportation methods, click here

Telephone: 
02-3455-9297

Website:
http://www.nseoultower.co.kr/eng/visit/restaurant.asp

Parking: 
Depending on how you choose to get up to N Seoul Tower, you'll have to park at the cable car ride parking lot, one of the Namsan Park public lots 

Alcohol: 
Wine list here http://www.nseoultower.co.kr/images/visit/ngrill/Wine.pdf

Tip: 
In addition to separate lunch and dinner courses, they also offer a special couple course which you can check here. Be sure to book in advance for weekends and special dates (Valentine's day, etc). 

Comments

  1. hey man, just stumbled upon your blog. great work. keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. and that steak was def under. you should have complained. it's clearly raw.

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