Cine de Chef – A Film and Restaurant Review

My two main passions in life are the cinema, and food. Therefore, i feel generally quite spoilt in Korea as tickets are half the price of England and, Bondegi aside, Korean food is great. So when I was looking for somewhere to take my girlfriend for her birthday, it appeared as if the gods were listening to my prayers as I stumbled across ‘Cine de chef’ which translates to “a movie theater with chefs”.  Not only did I find a great night out for my partner, but an opportunity to experience one of the more interesting places to see a movie in Korea and write about it.  Though, sadly, I wasn’t able to put the trip on the expense account.

Situated in Seoul’s stylish Apgujeong and Serving French and Italian food, the visit Korea website describes CGV Cine de Chef as a “new style restaurant that connects both move theater and restaurant.” The dining area is described as luxurious and the seven chefs are referred to as exquisite. This alone would have been enough to get me to go, but as for the cinema itself, the CGV Cine De Chef boasts two high tech screens both containing Hi-Fi systems, an 11.1 surround sound system and three-dimensional sound with a sense of depth anywhere in a 360° span.  Not to mention the luxurious leather chairs which cost 8 million apiece! I have experienced something similar in London at the Everyman Cinemas, but not to these specs.  Surely the CGV cine de chef would be a must for cinephiles everywhere?

The restaurant, a mere 2 minute walk from Apgujeong station, provides a good first impression as the décor is stylish and the staff extremely friendly as they show us to our table. I am informed that the cinema is a mere metres away but for the first time in my life, I really didn’t care what was showing as I was more excited about the pre showing meal.

The a la carte menu was impressive, but the best option appeared to be the set menu with courses A, B and C being priced at 60,000, 80,000 and 100,000 respectively. The starters looked interesting with a selection of delicious sounding salads or pan fried pomfrets, but it was the main courses that caught the eye. Grilled Prime Korean Beef Tenderloin, Oven Baked Rack of Lamb, Pan Fried Salmon and Gnocchi or Pan fried seasonal Fish Fillet and Saffron risotto were the options at 60,000. Bbut if you wanted to splash out a little extra, you could get extra courses with further options for your main such as Spanish Paella or poached lobster.

While making our choice, head chef Han Jae Hee walked over to table to introduce himself and talk us through the menu. An exceptionally pleasant man and very knowledgeable about his craft having previously worked for Morad Mazouz of Sketch in London fame.  He informed us that he had been working at Cine de chef for only a month and that the menus we were looking at, while impressive, were not entirely his own so would we be interested in trying his new menu he had been working on? The answer was an emphatic yes as it had always been one of my dreams to be used as a human guinea pig for a renowned chef.

We were treated to the Cine de Chef “Experience Set” which comprised of 8 courses and the results were indeed exquisite. I never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but the Pollack Giblets were to die for. Other stand out dishes were the Eggplant Roulade in a Mozzarella and Rucola puree, Poached Lobster and Grilled Prawns on an assorted fruit salsa, but the piece de resistance was without doubt the main course. My girlfriend had the grilled salmon which was amazing, but the Korean beef was simply one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. I thought it strange when we weren’t provided with a steak knife but it wasn’t required. It was soft, succulent, juicy and melted in the mouth.

After the eighth course I was stuffed, slouched in my chair in a comatose food induced bliss that I actually forgot about the film we were yet to see.  The English language option on this particular night was Cameron Crowe’s ‘We Bought a Zoo’ which I previewed in January’s issue of Groove.

Being led to Theatre B, the word luxurious was an understatement as the seats, of which there were only 30, did indeed cost 8 million and in my opinion, were well worth it.  The curtains draping from the walls reminded me of a throwback to movie theaters of old and having our jackets removed and our bags put in storage to remove clutter was a nice touch.  The setting was perfect for a couple as our own private sofa gave us the space needed to relax, cuddle up and enjoy a film in total comfort and luxury.  The only negative I could find with the cinema was that it was TOO comfortable and that I might commit one of the biggest cinema sins and fall asleep during the film.  With complimentary Heineken and snacks in hand, the film began, and much like I thought, We Bought a Zoo was a solid, feel good film, if not a little too sentimental at times. But with a good soundtrack as you might expect from Cameron Crowe, the film is a return to form after Elizabethtown.  However, the film was slightly over shadowed by the cinema itself as it was a great experience.

At 40,000 for a movie ticket and 80,000 apiece for the meal, it certainly isn’t something I could do every week but for a special occasion such as this, it was a great choice.  It was worth every penny and an experience that I highly recommend as the food was fantastic and the theatre one of the best I’ve seen.

After my experience at Cine de Chef, I hope it’s to be the first attempt of many to find out about other interesting places to watch movies in Korea.  At the moment, the options do seem to be revolving around food or alcohol with the Wine Train touted as a future option but again, this seems like it could be a pricey, one-off outing for a special occasion.

Now let me think, who do I know that has a birthday coming up…?

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One Comment on “Cine de Chef – A Film and Restaurant Review”

  1. May 18, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    Why didn’t this exist when I was there! AMAZING. maybe I need a little trip back…

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