This weekend Seoul is going to have many adoptees coming from all over the world to attend the G'OAL conference at Sogang University. The conference will be tomorrow and I will be giving a presentation about how I became reunited with my taste buds when I returned to Korea. G'OAL, which stands for Global Overseas Adoptee Link, is an organization to help Korean adoptees in Seoul.
So...Welcome fellow adoptees. I wanted to give you some recommendations of places you should eat at while you are in Seoul. I am a foodie and I have been running the website www.seouleats.com for a couple years, so there are a few places you should check out. For Seoulites, who've been here for a while, understand that my recommendations are for newbies and not for seasoned Korean foodaholics.
**How to use this list: the places are pretty well known or they have English Speaking staff. Most of the times, you can point to the picture and people will lead you in the right direction. Also, you can call the BBB at 02-1588-5644 or Call the tourism board at 02-1330 for help.***
1. Myeongdong Gyoja: This is the most famous knife cut noodle place in Seoul and there countless imitators. Their spicy, gingerly kimchi will burn your lips off-and yet, you'll go back for more. I recommend their Gyoja (Dumplings), Calguksu (Knife Cut Noodles) and their Kongguksu. Konguksu is a chilled soy milk noodle soup.
Directions: Myeongdong Gyoja: Myeongdong exit 5. Make a left at the first intersection (Woori Bank) and make the next right (Who.A.U. Clothing Store.)
2. Jang-o-rang. BBQ Freshwater eel is a summer speciality food for Koreans. It is a savory masterpiece of land and sea- especially when basted with a soy barbeque sauce, a tangy chili sauce, or simply with salt. Jang-o-rang one of the best places for for eel in Seoul and the only place I know where they serve eel chips. You'll see what I mean. I recommend you have this with bokbunja- a sweet raspberry wine.
Directions: Go out exit 5 and make a left and then take the second right. Walk to the main road and take a left and walk up the main intersection where you’ll see the main entrance to Hongdae University. Take a left and walk until you reach the Samjin building and it is right across the street.
1&2F, Samuk Bldg., 6-137, Changjeon-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
3. Dukbokki 떡복이 at 먹쉬돈나 (Mok Schwei Don Na): Sometimes you have to fight the heat with heat. Koreans have a very strange expression when they eat very hot food "Shiwonhada" it literally means "its cool!" They say this with zeal while eating really hot (temperature), hot (spicy) foods. In Samcheongdong, Mok Schwei Don Na is the king of dukbokki. And this little restaurant (whose name means "Eat, Relax, Pay, Go) always has a line of people waiting to get in to taste their famous sauce. Here you can pick from a list of 10 different ingredients such as dumplings, noodles, meat, seafood, cheese, etc to make your own D.I.Y. dish.
Mok Schwei Don Na: Anguk Station exit 1. Go straight and make a right at the Korean Travel Bureau Building and walk up along the stone wall. It is in the alley past Café Vangia.
4. Noryangjin Fish Market (노량진수산시장) is the largest wholesale fisheries market in Seoul. If you want fresh fish, this is the place to go. You'll find tons of fresh flounder, trout, king crabs, scallops, live scallops, and squirming live octopus. Go there early in the morning around 5am if you want to see the auction.
Directions: Take Subway line 1 or 9 to Noryangjin Station or take a taxi and tell them, “Noryangjin su-san shi-jang.”
5. Speaking of the Shijang, market that is, be sure to check out Kwangjang Shijang over by Jongno. It's a place bustling with activity; it simply feels electric. You'll see all the wares for sale such as clothing, shoes, cosmetics, blankets, plants...everything...and you'll find a very exciting food market. Here you can get things such as homemade, knife cut noodle soup (Calguksu), raw fish (hwae), braised pigs feet (jokbal), Korean pancakes (Jeon), and Silkworm (bundaeggi). I recommend you try the Bindaetteok.
Directions: Subway Line 1 Jongno 5(oh)-ga Station or say 광장시장 (Kwangjang Shijang) to the Taxi Driver.
6. Hakatabunkko Ramen (하카타코) in Hongdae. Down from the Far East Broadcasting company near Sangsu Station, you’ll find a line of people before an austere looking storefront with a white curtain with Japanese writing. About a month ago, I decided to wait in the line in the rain and see what all the hype was about. The hype is all about the ramen. Sure, it is not the Japanese style ramen I was looking for, but a perfect bowl that Korea has called its own. The broth is super rich- so rich that it is cloudy like a sandstorm in the Sahara. I learned that this style of broth is called kontotsu and it is made by carefully simmering the pork bones for hours and hours. The noodles are fine silk threads that zip like electricity. It also has crunchy bean sprouts, fatty roasted pork, and chives. As you receive your bowl of noodles, they give you a garlic press so you can mince a whole clove into this dish. The garlic and a little crushed sesame seed complete this dish. All the components work harmoniously. I finished and then lifted the bowl to get every last drop of soup.
Directions go out Sangsu Station exit 2 and turn at the Far East Broadcast company sign and wait in the line. 02-338-5536.
7. Korean style ribs top the sloppy, sugary ribs you find at most restaurants. It's all about the charcoal and cooking it right at the table makes you anticipate. One of my favorite places to go for ribs is at RIB's in Hongdae Here, you have three choices for meat: plain with salt, spicy, and black pepper. The service is great. They are very friendly and enthusastic about the food.
I recommend the black pepper or the spicy Ribs. They bring the thick marinated ribs to the table and you finish grilling them right at the table
Directions: If you go out Hondae Station exit 5, make a left. Go straight and then make a right on the road and make a left. Go about a block and then make a left into a little side street. You'll see a sign that says RIB's in big letters.
서울시 마포구 동교동 169-2
Phone: 02-325 3579
8. Hongik Sootbul Kalbi, near Hongik University. Also, up around exit 4 of Hongdae is one of the busiest and best galbi restaurants in the city. The high quality meat is the main draw and is always a line of people waiting for a seat. Be aware: you might go in all fresh smelling and clean, but when they leave they smell like the restaurant: greasy.
Directions: Go out Exit 5 of Hongdae Station and make a right. Cross the road and make a left. It's on the next corner. 02-322-4487.
9. You should also check out Tosokchon (토속촌) over at Gyeongbokgung. It is one of the most famous samgyetang places in Seoul and for good reason. The soft taste of chicken is married with the earthy, herbacious ginseng in a soothing broth. Inside of the chicken cavity, you'll find Korean jujube, pine nuts, ginko nuts, garlic and rice. It's one of the most unique dishes in Korea and quite a change from all the spicy sauces and grilled meats.
Directions: Stop at Gyeongbokgung station on subway Line 3 and go out exit #2. Walk straight for about 5 minutes.
10. A Korean Style Buffet Restaurant. You haven't been to a buffet unless you've gone to a Korean buffet restaurant. Here you'll get an opulent setting with a multitude of food. Plus, you won't be rushed with your meal. Buffets are totally high class here.
Recommended Buffets are at the W-Hotel's Kitchen, Hyatt Hotel, and Marriot. The chains that are quite good are Bono Bono in Samseongdong, C-food Kitchen, Crazy Ocean, Muscus, and the Well-being Buffet.
Oh and vegetarians, check out these posts: