Yongsusan Samchung Branch
118-3 Jongno-gu Samchung-dong, Seoul 110-230. (739-5599 www.yongsusan.co.kr) Anguk Station (line 3), exit 1. Open 11.30-3pm 5pm-11pm Mon- Sat. Average W30,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. A high-end, royal court cuisine restaurant that serves colorful cuisine in a sumptuous atmosphere. They offer Kaesong cuisine from the Koryo Dynasty so you’ll get a whole table of traditional dishes such as Royal Hotpot cooked in brass serving ware, meat and vegetable brochettes, beef marinated beef, grilled fish, delicate crepes with a variety of garnishes, and finished with tea and rice cake. It’s a meal for the eyes and body.
129-5 Jongno-gu Wonseodong, Seoul 129-5. (747-3152) Anguk Station (line 3) , exit 3. Open 11-10pm Tues-Sun. Average W5,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. Next to a Buddhist Temple and across from Changdeok Palace. This is a modernized Korean house with a very impressive high-fi, tube sound system. The interior has high ceilings and quiet location is perfect to relax. The Korean style teas such as omija, yuja, and lotus root are made from organic ingredients. In summer, they make homemade raspberry shaved ice dessert that is absolutely mind blowing.
63-10 Jongno-gu Samcheong-dong (730-1045) Anguk Station (line 3), exit 1. Open 11:30-3pm 5pm-10pm. Average W25,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. Only in Seoul could you have French cuisine in a Korean Hanok. Chez Simon’s menu changes regularly depending on local ingredients that are available. The secret to the restaurant’s success is the ability of the chef to transform these ingredients into works of art. Each plate is adorned with mini fireworks of flavor. The lunch or dinner courses are recommended so you’ll get the full range of dishes such as delicious crepes, steak, pastas, and dessert.
Reminis Cake House
120-1 Jongno-gu, Gyedong (3675-0406 www.reminiscake.com) Anguk Station (line 3) exit 3. Open 11-10pm Mon-Sat. Average W7,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. Yun-sun Goo was well known for her wedding and birthday cakes and later converted their baking studio into a cafe. In the back room they offer baking classes and continue to make cakes, but the front of the house is now a cafe where you can get a slice of delicious cake, macaroon, or cookie to quell your sweet tooth. The chocolate cake is exceptional here and so are the mini cheesecakes. If you have the time (about 20 minutes), I recommend their chocolate souffle. Right out of the oven, the melted chocolate is in a flux of solid and liquid and it sits on a crisp tart crust of…chocolate. Delicious.
Seoul’s Second Best Tea House: Traditional Korean teas: persimmon cinnamon punch, red bean porridge, deer antler tea. In Samcheondong. 02-734-5302
84-13 Jongno-gu, Kwanghoondong (730-9301) Anguk Station (line 3) exit 6. Open 11-10pm Mon-Sun. Average W18,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. A picturesque Korean noble’s house in the heart down the winding alleys of Korea’s antique street. This restaurant specializes in Buddhist inspired mountain cuisine. You’ll get flavorful salads with wild greens, acorn jelly with spicy cucumber pickles, poached pork, wild sesame porridge and lotus-leaf wrapped rice. This is a full-course Korean meal that will have you feeling healthy yet full.
Eat, Rest, Pay, Go (Mok, Swei, Don, Na)
: 17-18 Jongno-gu Angukdong (723-8089) Anguk Station (line 3) exit 1. Open 11-10pm Mon-Sun. Average W7,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. Tteokbokki is the dish that Korean children grew up with- it’s the equivalent of American fries with ketchup. The quirky Moksweidonna’s secret is their spicy and savory red sauce that they use to cook the delicious rice noodles. You can get it topped the way you’d such as with dumplings, mussels, cheese, meat, noodles, mussels, egg, and even ugly dumplings. There is always a long line, so try to get their early.
Tea Talk (Cha-ee-ya-gi)
29-11 Jongno-gu, Kwanhoondong (735-8552) Anguk Station (line 3) exit 6. Open 11-10pm Mon-Sun. Average W12,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. This Ssambap (wrapped meal) restaurant offers a variety of leaves and nutritious rice that is steamed in bamboo with barbecued pork belly and cut sirloin beef. After cooking the meat in front of you, you should wrap the beef, rice, and sauce around leaves and eat. The sauce is unique as well with everything from pumpkin seeds, garlic, mushrooms, soybean paste, and red chili paste. Service is fast and friendly and the setting in a traditional house is comforting.
Pub of the Blue Star
118-15 Jongno-gu, Kanhoondong (734-3095) Anguk Station (line 3) exit 6. Open 4-12pm Mon-Sun. Average W10,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. A Bohemian actor turned world travel writer took an ancient Korean house and turned it into “one of the coolest little bars in the whole wide world (according to the Huffington Post).” The pub sources artisanal makgeolli (rice wine), kimchi, tofu, and other ingredients. The normally white rice wine can come green here- fortified with mulberry leaves, green tea, or mugwort powder which adds a dash of freshness to the refreshing alcohol.
84-10 Jongno-gu Jaedong (747-0011) Anguk Station (line 3) exit 2. Open 11-8 Mon-Sat. Average W6,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. Jaedong Sundubu specializes in uncurdled tofu stew called sundubu. The uncurdled tofu is made in house and that probably explains its popularity with the locals. The tofu is soft and creamy and it boiled with red pepper paste, clams, mushrooms, and onions. It is one of my favorite stews on a frigid winter day because the stew comes boiling hot to the table. This tiny restaurant (seats maybe 40 people) sells an impressive 350 bowls of this stuff a day. There might be a wait getting in, but it sure is worth it. For those who can’t handle spice, there is a plain, vegan sundubu.
175-3 Jongno-gu, Anguk-dong (736-9651 www.amandier.co.kr ) Anguk Station (line 3) exit 1. Open 10-10 Mon-Sun. Average 5,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. In the bustling area of Insadong, Chef Ruben Jan Adrian brings his Belgium pastry and chocolate expertise to Seoul in his glass box cafe. His chocolates are creative and seductive, his macaroons are inspiring, and his cakes raise the bar for patisseries in Korea. He is a maverick taking risks with flavor such as his whisky chocolate, avocado and banana macaroon, truffle macaroon, and Szechwan truffle. If sweets are not your thing, there is strong bitter coffee, freshly baked bread and sandwiches.
4-2 Jongno-gu, Insadong (739-5683) Jongno-3ga (line 5) exit 6. Open 11-10 Mon-Sun. Average 6,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. This is where the monks like to hang out when they want to get something outside of the temple. Why? The food is hearty and delicious. Here you get a bowl of barley mixed with rice and you top that with fresh green vegetables and a salty/earthy soybean paste and mix the whole thing up to make rich, delicious mixed rice dish called doenjang bibimbap. The secret is in the sauce and at lunch time there is often a line out the door of people waiting to get their bowl of deliciousness.
263 Jongno-gu Insadong (730-2700) Jongak (line 1) exit 3. Open 11-2am Mon-Sun. Average 12,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. You’ve had duck. You’ve had pork belly. Now, have you ever had smoked duck and smoked pork belly grilled and served with a plethora of banchan and delicious sauces? That is what Done Zone specializes in and they do it with flair. The thick cut, smoked pork belly when grilled tastes like bacon and the duck gets a nice crust on the grill. These dish match very well with soju and be sure to finish the meal with their cold noodles. Pakga-ne’ 138-10 Jongno-gu Jongno 5-ga (2264-0847). Jongno 5-ga (line 1) Exit 8. Open 11-12pm Mon-Sun. Average 6,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. After the Korean War there was a number of displaced North Koreans without a home. The story goes that many of them set up food stalls in the clothing wholesale market:
Pakgan-ne’ is famous for their crisp bindaetteok which is made from stone ground mung beans mixed with bean sprouts and onions and fried. The dish is so famous that during lunch times there are lines out the door and scores of people order extra to take home. They also have excellent banquet noodles and if you are adventurous, get the blood sausage (soondae).
Street Food Tents in Jongno 3-ga: Have your street food under a tent on the side of the road with a few drinks. Here you can get Chicken Feet, Live Octopus, and Pan-Seared Pregnant Smelt. Go out Jongno 3-ga Station Subway Line 3 Exit 4.
Octopus Heaven (Nakji Chunguk):
Specializes in live octopus and spicy octopus dishes. Near Jongno 3-ga. 02-763-5151. City Hall
55-3 Jeong-gu Seosomundong (752-9376) City Hall Station (Line 2) Exit 10. Open 11-12pm Mon-Sun. Average 15,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. Samgyetang is believed to have magical, restorative qualities. To make this dish, a tender young chicken is stuffed with sticky rice, ginko nuts, jujube, licorice root and the essential ginseng. At Kuryeo Samgyetang, the broth is carefully coaxed into being by being by simmering the chicken. They have a version made with black chicken: a special breed of chicken whose skin and meat are black. I would also recommend their juicy, whole fried chicken.
Yi Chun Bok Cham-chi
85-1 Yongsan-gu, Namyeongdong (794-4558) Sookmyeong University (Line 4) exit 6. Open 5pm-2am Mon-Sun. Average 30,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. All you can eat tuna buffet restaurant with entertaining chefs that act like swashbuckling pirates. The tuna is plentiful and various. You’ll cuts of blood red lean tuna to white abalone and fatty pink tuna belly as long as you keep eating and drinking. If you would like to encourage the chefs to give you extra service, offer them a shot of soju with a 10 dollar bill around the bottle. The chef’s will give you premium cuts of tuna and a shot of cactus liquor with a tuna eyeball inside.
Neo Korean Cuisine. Specializes in using tofu and beans to reinterpret Korean food to be visually and sensually appealing. In the Seoul History Museum. 02-722-7727. Hongdae
Aa Design Museum 408-11 Mapo-gu Seokyo-dong (3143-7311 www.aadesignmuseum.com). Sangsu (line 9) exit 2. Open 11-12pm Mon-Sun. Average 7,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. The first thing that you will notice when you enter the “Aa Design Museum” in Hongdae is the multi-orbed light fixture that looms over head like a spiteful alien from H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds. But as your eyes focus on the spacious interior, you realize that lamp “fits.” The basement levels are a designer furniture museum. The capable café baristas can produce frothy cappuccinos to go along with a delicious Panini on homemade ciabatta. Desserts are also made in house. The café also has an wide wine and beer selection for those that would rather relax.
Beautiful Barbecue House 116 Gangnam-gu Samseong-dong Baekwoo Building (3452-7895 www.hwagozip.co.kr) Seolleong (line 2) exit 8. Open 11am-12pm Tues-Sun. Average 20,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. This is a traditional style Korean barbecue house with modern touches. They specialize in high quality beef- either from Korea or from Australia. The wood charcoal comes white hot to the table to sear in the beefy juices or the plain or marinated beef. The place is famous for their knife-cut soybean noodle soup. And after your meal you get homemade frozen yogurt.
252-22 Gangnam-gu, Nonhyeon-dong. (544-9045) Gangnam-gu Office (line 7) exit 2. Open 11am-8pm Mon-Sat. Average 4,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. The owner, Pak Cheol-woo, is a born baker: he is humble, diligent, and precise. Every loaf and roll that comes out of his oven are marked for greatness- they are not just one of the nameless many. His crusty country loaf will hold its own against any meaty sandwich and his cloud-like ciabattas are great right out of the bag. The stars of the bakery are his German-style soft pretzels, pretzel croissants, and his many layered, flaky, buttery pain de chocolate. Itaewon
358-17 Yongsan-gu Huam-dong (777-9007 www.poomseoul.com) Noksapyeong (line 9) exit 2. Open 11am-8pm Mon-Sat. Average 70,000. Credit AmEx, Visa. This is one of Seoul’s most esteemed restaurants that specializes in modern takes on familiar Korean dishes. The restaurant uses only high-quality local ingredients and transforms them into delicious delicacies. You start off the meal with simple daechu berry that has been made into a crisp. Another delicious dish is their shitake mushroom stuffed with shrimp in chicken consumme. Their sea bream is outstanding as well. Reservations are needed 24 hours in advance.
Add oyour favorite