I am not a connoisseur of wines, but I love having a glass or two occasionally. So when a friend of mine told me about wine buffet at the heart of Gangnam, I just couldn’t hold back but to check the place out — right after the submission of my term paper last semester. That so happened to be a few days before Christmas. HAHA. It is an overdue post, but I hope I am not too late.
The wine buffet is located at Imperial Palace Hotel 임피리얼 팰리스 호텔. Stepping into the hotel lobby is an experience akin stepping out of South Korea. The lobby was tastefully and expensively decorated in beautiful English/ European style furnitures (I can’t tell exactly if it is English or European but anyway) that makes you wonder if you’re spending Christmas overseas. The chandeliers, antique armchairs and the golden patterned carpet, all of which maximise the romantic ambience, makes this place a perfect venue for any year-end gathering.
We were seated right beside the window. The trees and bushes were adorned with beautiful Christmas lights.
The wine list of the day was given before we start the feast. We opted for the KRW 100,000 (SGD 122+-) buffet, that entitle us a longer wine list to choose from: one sparkling wine, 3 white wines and 3 red wines. The other option, which comes slightly cheaper KRW 80,000 (SGD 98 +-), offer a shorter list with one sparkling wine, 2 white wines and 3 red wines to choose from.
We ordered Cabernet Sauvignon from 1865 Single Vineyard, a Chilean Red wine to start with. Before the waiters could serve the wine, I am already down at the ground to check what Amiga has to offer. kkkk
Nearest to the entrance was a cheese platter with 3 types of cheese, followed by a long salad bar, and the Smoked Salmon, a must-have for buffets in the South Korean context. They have a tantalizing spread of antipasto, ranging from grilled vegetables, chicken, shrimps and etc. And of course, a mini selection of sushi, sashimi, and tuna tataki (seared raw tuna). For natto lovers, you will love that good serving of natto right at the beginning of Japanese food section.
Up next was Korean cuisine. Big, fat juicy Ganjang Gejang (Raw crabs marinated in soy sauce) look delish, especially with the generous spread of tiny little yellow globule (roe) as toppings. A wide spread of Korean banchan (side dishes), including marinated/pickled vegetables, jeon (Korean assorted pancakes), Yukhoe (beef tartare) and even Bossam (Korean Rice Wraps with braised pork) is available at the Korean food section, not to mention endless selection of kimchi available.
Further down at the open kitchen area — that is where your made-to-order lamb chops and steaks are prepared. Grilled beef tenderloins are available here as well. They do serve steamed glutinous rice in lotus leaf, quite a rare dish for a buffet. The “Chinese” food such as Tangsuyuk (Koreanized version of Chinese sweet and sour pork) and Ganpung (干烹) Shrimp (Crispy shrimp with spicy sauce) can be found here too.
The first plate.
And the second plate.
Also the first glass of wine for the night, the 1865 Cabernet Sauvignon. I don’t know which year exactly this particular wine is from, but it comes in a beautiful purple-ish ruby red colour, and taste really good — strong notes of ripe berries, and perhaps chocolate, with nice amounts of tannins backing up. A dense and concentrated, semi-full bodied wine, an elegant start for the night.
Without me knowing, my dinner partner ordered a steak for me at the counter. A very nice gesture for him to do so. However, Their steak was a little disappointing. It is cooked more than medium.. or almost well done, leaving minimal juice in that boring piece of protein. = (
After two glasses of my beautiful Chilean wine, we switched to Elitaio Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo, an Italian red wine. Nice ruby red colour, fruity with a hint of spicy notes behind, a lighter body compared to the Chilean wine above. Not a fan of European wine, but it was an easy drink. I remembered we did try the French wine, but I can barely remember how it taste since I was already a little tipsy after a few glasses.
Before proceeding to the dessert wine, we set off to one last round at the hall for some desserts. They have nice tarts, brownies, puddings, macaroons, cakes, fresh fruits and some frozen fruits like lychee and mango.
That was how I ended my wine buffet dinner — with one last glass of an Australian Chardonnay.
Half tipsy, and of course very happy, we left Amiga for the elegant lobby. I must say the Christmas atmosphere was great at Imperial Palace. The old fashioned armchairs, chest and cupboard, and the overload of Christmas lights just scream CHRISTMAS! Certainly one of my favourite place to soak in the Christmas atmosphere in Korea!
Verdict: A decent wine buffet at a hotel in town area. Food wise, I would say the buffet provided here is certainly on the healthier side. Expect lots of fresh, raw vegetables here — a plus point in my book, since I enjoy a healthy diet. However, it does not come with oyster, lobster and Alaskan King crabs that we have in Singapore, which is a minor drawback. Overall, the food tastes great. There aren’t many visitors yet, so visitors can enjoy a calm and tranquil night at the restaurant.
With the decent wine list given, I would say it is quite reasonably priced. I mean, we don’t get such price back in Singapore do we? From what I understand, the cheapest hotel buffets that include free flow of wine are at least SGD 128, and the price doesn’t even include tax! So if you want a wine-galore kind of night, this is where you should give a try.
Imperial Palace Hotel, Cafe Amiga 임피리얼 팰리스 호텔. 아미가
640, Eonju-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 강남구 언주로 640.
Time: Mon-Sat, 6pm-10pm.
Nearest Subway Station: Hakdong Station 학동역
1. Coming out from Exit no. 1 Hakdong Station, go straight, down two blocks, where you’ll see the hotel opposite the main road.
2. Cross the road and you’ll reach the hotel in 2 minutes!