Seoul's ever-shifting restaurant and bar scene is dependent on the fickle nature of Korean eaters.
This makes the capital a dangerous place to attempt new ideas, yet one that also forces restaurateurs and bar owners to embrace innovation and change.
A dozen noteworthy arrivals have opened in the past year and a half. They're listed here in alphabetical order.
B28 Seoul is owned by Mike Soldner and Grace Chang, who opened the popular B28 bar in Singapore in 2011.
Hidden in a basement in Apgujeong with minimal signage, the Seoul branch has one of the city's largest selections of single cask and single malt whiskeys.
While single malts have long been popular in Seoul, few bars have been dedicated to single cask whiskey.
The most popular variety among B28 customers is Laphroaig Islay Single Cask Single Malt (?59,000/$53 for a dram, ?790,000/$710 for a bottle). It's one of six single cask whiskeys the bar stocks.
The couple is working on importing more varieties -- the plan is to eventually offer the most varieties of whiskey in South Korea.
The bar features live jazz on Fridays.
B28 Seoul, B/1 88-2 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu; +82 10 3402 2828; Monday-Saturday 7 p.m.-4 a.m., closed Sundays; cover charge ?10,000 ($9)
BangBeom Pocha literally means "Security Tent Bar," and the small, quirky space (originally a dry cleaner) is decorated in the style of an old police station and jail.
"Since we're in a slightly hidden alley, we wanted it to seem as if we were protecting the neighborhood," says co-owner Lee Tae Hoon.
"And since I work in film, I have experience with building sets on police films, so all the police station items are props normally used for movie sets."
An art director for films, Lee owns the unusual pocha (a tented, casual Korean drinking hole) along with two creative friends, Lee Dong Wook, who works in fashion PR, and Jang Jin Woo, a photographer, restaurateur and chef.
The menu belies the casual atmosphere, featuring types of anju (food that goes with alcohol) that aren't available elsewhere in Seoul.
The restaurant purchases all it's ingredients directly from the provinces, and always offers seasonal items on the menu, which changes monthly.
This summer, Jang added a water hoe anju (?30,000/$27), made with fresh seafood from Pohang.
Also recommended: garlic beef tartare (?30,000/$27).
BangBeom Pocha, Yongsan-gu Itaewon-2dong 260-100; +82 70 8151 5587; Monday-Saturday, 6 p.m.-3 a.m., closed Sundays
Located on top of the more well-known Burger B in Hongdae, Beale St. offers excellent southern barbecue.
Sounds impossible in Seoul? It's not.
Owner Choi Sukjun and chef Jisoo Jang (he previously worked at Michelin-starred Michael Mina in San Francisco) devised their menu after several food tours of the states, honing in on Memphis and New Orleans for traditional U.S. barbecue.
"We really filled our brains with info on spices, sauces and tastes," says Choi.
"Our method of creating our menu was to find and replicate the most authentic tastes, and then from there, localize it as needed or change it according to the chef's preferences. We make it exactly the same first, and then vary from there."
Using a commercial smoker shipped in from the United States, Beale St.'s spare ribs are smoked for five hours (?42,000/$38 for full or ?22,000/$20 for half).
Short ribs are smoked for six hours (?45,000/$41 for full or ?24,000/$22 for half).
They're two of the highlights on the menu. A tomato-based sauce complements both dishes, in the style of Kansas City barbecue.
According to Choi, the commercial smoker brings an entirely different flavor to the meat.
Beale St. also boasts a broad selection of local draft and craft beers from Korea and the United States.
Beale St., 3/F 363-28 Seogyo-dong Mapo-gu; +82 2 322 0755; noon-11 p.m.
Congdu used to be housed in the Seoul National History Museum, but relocated and reopened in a literal national treasure -- a traditional Korean building used by the last Chosun king's grandmother. It's located between what are now the British and U.S. embassies.
As imposing and beautiful as the location is, Congdu doesn't rely solely on its beautiful setting to impress visitors -- it features some of the best Korean food in Seoul.
The menu features neo-Korean cuisine that requires intense labor. The 48-hour, slow-cooked Jeju pork shoulder with aged kimchi (?38,000/$34) is a reflection of one of Jeju Island's most famous dishes.
Owner Vivian Han travels around Korea to find top suppliers, ingredients and masters, and describes the food as being traditional and simple, but prepared with new methods of cooking.
Han's new Gangnam venture, Maam focuses on seafood.
Though some dishes come from Congdu, others have been tailored for Maam, at a lower price point.