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La Celtique Seoul

Review: Seoul’s Real French Creperie – La Celtique in Shinchon

Although a little difficult to find, La Celtique is worth the effort because it is the only place I know of in Korea dedicated to producing French crepes, which I have only been able to eat a few times in my life and which I often wish I could have. As its name indicates, it is owned by a proud Breton, Charles Duval, whose mission is introducing the staple cooking of his native region to Korea.

A 50-something world traveler, Duval left a nautical job on the French-administered island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean and came to Korea for a complete change of scene, opening La Celtique with a Korean businesswoman named Yu Yeongjin in 2009.  It is thus one of the new French restaurants to open in Korea since 2000.

When you enter this restaurant, the first thing you will hear is Breton pop music, or pop music from other Celtic areas of Europe such as Galicia or Ireland.  It only seats a couple of dozen people, but its small size makes it cozy.  As you would expect, the walls are adorned with paintings and posters of the chef’s native Brittany, and he is eager to give diners a tourist map of the region.  Bright light comes in through large windows, and the premisis is quite clean.

La Celtique’s menu is small, but offers a good range of crepes, including those that are meals in themselves for 10-13,000 won and dessert ones.  The first time I dined there I ordered the basic crepe with cheese and a well-done egg (French prefer theirs runny), and found it highly satisfactory; on my second visit, however, I ordered La Foresterie, a buckwheat crepe containing mushrooms, bacon, sour cream and onion—it was even better.

As for sweet crepes, there is a basic butter and sugar one for only 3,000 won, and at the other end a Crème de Marron one with chestnut spread, cream and vanilla ice cream for 7500.  I tried the kind with salted butter caramel cream that Duval makes himself, and found it worth 5500 won.  Duval claims his dessert crepes are popular with Koreans once they know what they are, and I can believe him.

Bretons traditionally prefer to wash down their crepes with cider, and La Celtique offers Kerisac Brut from Brittany in 750 ml bottles for 15,000 won and 250 ml for 6,000.  Cheaper Big Rock and Hunter’s are also available.  There is no wine, but there are a few basic brands of beer.

Options other than crepes include sausages that Duval prepares himself without any preservatives, as well as salads and omelets. Duval boasts that he makes every kind of food that he can by hand, and uses packaged ingredients as little as possible.  Customers appreciate this, and La Celtique was designated as a healthy and quality restaurant by the Seodaemun-gu authorities in 2012.

This has got to be one of the most unique restaurants in all Korea, and is worth a visit for anyone living in or visiting Seoul.

Getting there: Take green line 2 to Sinchon and go straight out of exit three for 200 paces to Nature Republic on your right.  Turn right here, and go straight down a brick-paved sidewalk 330 paces to traffic light; the road will veer to the right at around 250 paces, and you will see Plastic Bar & Lounge.  La Celtique is on your right on the second floor above ttokbogi restaurant; it has the image of a Breton lighthouse on its sign.  Its landline is 02-312-7774, and Duval’s mobile is 010-2597-2360; email  Bon appétit!   



About Hal Swindall

A California native, Hal Swindall received his PhD in comparative literature from UC Riverside and has wandered East Asia as a vagabond prof ever since. He teaches English conversation, writing and presentation skills at Woosong University in Daejeon.

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