Trattoria & Enoteca Mito

It's extremely difficult to find authentic Italian cuisine in Seoul. Even if a restaurant starts off authentic, the chefs end up matching their dishes to the taste of Koreans. It's not a bad thing, but I often crave that fresh, traditional taste without the odd spiciness or tweaks that cater to the Korean tastebuds. 

Trattoria & Enoteca Mito absolutely fits my high standard. I went to dinner with my family and family friends, originally intending to just enjoy another ordinary dinner. However, this ended up being one of the best meals of 2016. 

We ended up inundating ourselves with what I'm going to call an Italian omakase. The chef would whip up some of the most delicious pasta I've ever had with his freshest ingredients. We tasted and savored lobster, fresh tomatoes, vongole, ragu, and more, with plenty of wine and champagne, of course, and no end in sight. 

In terms of appetizers, I would highly recommend the tomato and burrata salad. Extremely fresh. All of the pastas are good – just ask for the chef's recommendations based on what ingredients he has that day.

Mito is a perfect date spot but also accommodates larger groups, whether it's a fun friend or family gathering. Could be anywhere from 5만원 (manwon) - 10만원 per person, mostly depending on how much your order. 

Address: 강남구 압구정로 72길 10, Seoul, South Korea
Phone: 02-3446-6938


ABC Kitchen

If you ask me for recommendations for a quality, trendy meal in NYC, I will always include ABC Kitchen on that list. 

Being the California native that I am, I always try to eat all organic and food made with fresh ingredients. ABC Kitchen, another Jean-Georges restaurant, is located right by Union Square, and has some amazing cocktails and dishes made with all the care and freshness I like. 

I usually do family-style when I dine there. The most popular dish is the Crab Toast w Lemon Aioli, for good reason. I highly recommend sharing that, along with the bowtie pasta, mushroom pizza, and any of the salads for a solid meal. 

Food is top quality, so you'll impress anybody you take here. But it's impossibly hard to get a reservation, so make sure to book in advance!

Address: 35 East 18th Street, between Broadway and Park Ave
Phone: +1 212 475 5829

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Bistro Don Giovanni

If you find yourself in wine country and frolicking among the vineyards, I doubt all the wine is enough to curb your appetite. In fact, based on my personal experience, hunger levels will be at a peak high. 

If this is the case, go eat at Bistro Don Giovanni, right in the heart of Napa Valley. I've been going there since I was a toddler with my family and whenever I'm in Napa, I make it a point to eat there. The food is just as authentic and wonderful as it's always been, if not more so. 

All of the pizza and pasta is amazing, so you can't go wrong there, but you absolutely MUST order the Fried Olives. They sound random and unimpressive, but trust me, they're drug-level addictive and Michelin-crack-level delicious.

Great for a group or any occasion, really. Very pleasant, family atmosphere.

Address: 4110 Howard Lane, Napa, California 94558
Phone: (707) 224-3300

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The Mercer Kitchen

Super chic and in the heart of Soho, Jean Georges's The Mercer Kitchen is still absolutely one of my favorite restaurants in New York.

I will always 100% order the Salmon Crispy Rice every time I go, and I would eat salad for every meal if the Steamed Shrimp Salad was readily available whenever, wherever. While this may seem unadventurous, I don't care. You won't either after you've tried both.

For a sophisticated yet laidback date, romantic or between friends, or if you want to take your mom somewhere nice, definitely go to The Mercer Kitchen. Mid-range prices for well-above-range food and decor. 

Address: 99 Prince Street, New York, New York 10012, USA
Phone: +1 212-966-5454

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Taj Palace

Seoul has a thriving food scene, but up until last year, I had no idea where to get good Indian food. So I took it as a good omen for the year when my friend said he would take me to a place called Taj Palace, which set off all the right signals in my head. 

Taj Palace is off of the main street in Itaewon, one of the more global, diverse areas in Seoul, in large part due to the army base. 

My friend and I shared a sizzling plate of Tandoori Chicken – spicy but incredibly tasty – a cauliflower curry, and last but certainly not least, Butter Chicken. 

It's one of my favorite foods, so I was quite literally eating the Butter Chicken straight, no rice, no naan, just spoonfuls of savory, flavorful goodness.

For an Indian food fix in Seoul, Taj Palace is the place to go. I believe they also have a buffet on the weekends.

Address: 132-2 Itaewon 1(il)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Phone: 02-790-5786


Sushi Matsumoto 스시 마츠모토

Sushi Matsumoto 스시 마츠모토 opened in November 2011, since then establishing itself as the best sushi spot in Seoul. It is certainly on the pricier side, but it maintains an authentic Japanese flavor and atmosphere. 

For lunch, expect omakase (chef's selection) to start at 110,000₩ and for dinner, to start at 150,000₩. There are also cheaper options that aren't omakase starting at 55,000₩. 

Chef Matsumoto's specialty is the nissin (sardine). Keep a lookout for this one as you enjoy the different tastes and scents from the sea. 

Fun fact: Sushi started off as a cheap street food. Since then, it has leveled up on the culinary spectrum to sophisticated and globally recognized.

Reservations are pretty hard to come by, so make sure to plan ahead of time. Great place to impress or just to enjoy some near-perfect food. If you truly care about the sushi you eat, this is the place to go.

Address: 서울특별시 강남구 신사동 630-1