It would be a push to call the weather this week “warm”, but we are finally heading in that direction. That means it’s almost time to start making use of Seoul’s many rooftop restaurants, cafes and bars.
Harvest Namsan is nestled up against the southern foot of Mount Namsan, right down the street from the Grand Hyatt Seoul. It claims to be farm-to-table, but I think everyone’s already come to grips with how seldom those claims are true (not just in Korea, but back home as well). Nevertheless, there seems to be a genuine effort at Harverst Namsan to seek out local and organic produce, and they do grow the odd veggie up on their sprawling rooftop patio, which overlooks the whole of Haebangchon.
The menu on their website is not to be trusted — it was completely out of step with the one we were presented with, which is a double-edged sword. While I was sorry not to be able to try a particular duck dish, it does mean that their menu is seasonal and frequently updated.
Harvest Namsan is nice because they manage to integrate Korean-specific ingredients into their Western dishes without Frankenstein’s-monster results. Their technique is not flawless, which is fine, because the prices rival those at local Western family-dining chains for much fresher and more creative fare. But the flavor profiles are mostly on point, and surprising, in a pleasant way. Nothing was over- or under-done for my taste (with the exception of the lamb being a bit overcooked) — saucing was appropriately portioned and mostly suited the dishes.
The one small quibble I had other than the lamb was about the pizza, which was sauced with gaetnip (perilla leaf) pesto. I was quite looking forward to trying the pizza, because gaetnip pesto was one of the major trends sweeping fusion-esque restaurants last summer, but, while the pizza was very nice, the flavor of the perilla leaves just didn’t really come through.
The stuffed eggplant was above reproach, though — just a perfect, tasty little appetizer. I’m looking forward to going back and seeing what else they’ll get up to in their kitchen.
The interior of the restaurant is nice, so don’t back away at the door if it seems the rooftop dining is full or if it appears that it might rain. The same lovely view of central Seoul unfolding toward the northern bank of the Han can be glimpsed from the windows inside.
When the weather gets just slightly warmer, I’ll be calling to ask if their patio is pet-friendly. With a growing recognition that refurbished older buildings have a lot to offer, and on a much kinder budget than complete rebuilds, more and more Korean restauranteurs are making good use of the flat roofs that come with many older Korean buildings. I just hope that Seoul will become more pet-friendly as the outdoor spaces available to patrons increase.
Charlie’s manners aren’t quite restaurant-ready just yet, but hopefully we will get there soon. (We’re working on leash-training our oldest cat, Vera, as well, as she’s been quite keen to escape out into the garden lately, but that seems a somewhat more longterm goal.) While a lot of restaurants in Seoul with outdoor spaces have crammed a few tables into small spaces along busy sidewalks (something that wouldn’t work well for Charlie on the best of days), Harvest Namsan’s somewhat remote location away from the street and sidewalk traffic would be ideal for a few hours in the sun enjoying a nice meal and a coffee with your pup at your feet.
서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 258-202
258-202 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Sunday-Monday 12pm-12am; Closed for break 2:30pm-5:30pm