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La Luce - Fine dining in down town Daegu

La Luce is a beautiful, spacious restaurant located just across the street from Kyungpook University Hospital. Kim Sun Il, the 27-year-old owner and head chef has put together an incredible menu featuring “contemporary European cuisine.” If that seems like too broad a definition don’t worry, this is not some new age fusion style eatery. Fantastic dishes with roots in Italy, Spain and Greece are all represented as they should be; without any contrived mixing and matching. Whatever you choose to order, it will be authentic and prepared with great care and attention to tradition.


Chef Kim, who was recently named one of the top young chef’s in the country by Vogue Korea, spent the last two years honing his craft in Seoul. Feeling ready to run his own establishment, he decided to come to Daegu, his mother’s hometown. And so, along with two close friends/coworkers from Itaewan, (and his mom, who works with him in the kitchen) he opened La Luce.The fact that the owner and his employees are friends and family adds a very pleasant, close-knit vibe to the environment. He explains that he wants to give his customers a fine dining experience with casual prices.The fine dining experience he speaks of is apparent not just in the food, but in the service and atmosphere as well.  Six wooden four-top tables and a large banquette are spaced wide apart in the huge dining area.The sparsely decorated walls are painted a warm yellow. Only a small counter divides the dining room from the kitchen, so you can look in on the action no matter where you sit.

 

As soon as we were seated our waitress presented us with a basket of warm rosemary focaccia with a small saucer of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. Next we received a perfectly assembled caprese salad. As simple a dish as it is, this one is a cut above in the quality department. Bright red tomatoes bursting with flavor combined with top-notch buffalo mozzarella and dressed with oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil leaves (ripped, not chopped, of course); it was just the thing to whet our appetites for what would be a sensational meal.

 

The first main dish we sampled was the Burger David. It seemed like a standard cheeseburger at first blush, but like most of the things on the menu at La Luce, it had a few gourmet tricks up its sleeve. The patty, made from top grade Han-woo beef was topped with aged cheddar, caramelized onions and whole grain mustard. We had trouble choosing a pasta dish (there’s at least ten different ones on the menu), so our waitress recommended the Gnocchi di Patate. It did not disappoint. It came in a rich cream sauce, and the gnocchi, which is made on the premises, was the ideal texture; soft, but not at all mushy. Next we got the Coca de Senorita, a gigantic piece of flat bread piled high with seasonal vegetables and bacon. Visually, it’s a sight to behold; huge and as colorful as can be. Leafy mixed greens, tomatoes, red onions and yellow peppers on top of the fresh baked bread. Throw some bacon into the mix and you’re in flavor country. Because the Coca de Senorita is sobig, you probably shouldn’t bother with it unless you have three or more people in your party.For the grand finale, we were treated to a panful of paella with fresh mussels, giant shrimp, squid and octopus served on top of a bed of delicious, fluffy saffron rice. If you are craving a taste of Spain, then this is surely the way to go.

  

Chef Kim’s vision of fine dining and casual prices has been realized. Not one of the 18 main dishes available cost more than 22,000 Won per person, and most of them are in the 13,000-16,000 range. The salads, which are big enough for two people, cost between 10,000 and 17,000. Desserts all cost under 5,000. Heineken, Moretti and Guiness are the only beers available and cost 6,000, 7,000 and 8,000 respectively. Glasses of house red or white wine are only 5,000, but if you fancy yourself a sommelier then check out La Luce’s impressive, all Italian wine list. A bottle will run you anywhere from 15,000 to 191,000.

 

The easiest way to get to La Luce is by subway. Take the green line to the Kyungpook University Hospital stop (one stop from Banwoldang) then walk two blocks north. It is located on the second floor of the Bun Hong Bitseu Ro Building, directly across from the hospital.  If you prefer to take a taxi, tell the driver “Kyungpookdae-hokbyeoung-won.”

 

Chef Kim’s gorgeous restaurant is not to be missed. From the moment you step into La Luce, you will be treated to superior service, friendly faces and of course, great food.Check it out soon!

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