Korean Eats, Southeastern Seoul

Hong Yeong Jae: A Restaurant that a Bean Made

Hong Yongjae

 The story goes that there was once a well-known and respected doctor that had everything going for him in life. He had a loving family, he had a successful practice, and many friends. Everything seemed to be going well, maybe too well. Like, Job that was struck down by God in order to test his faith, the same was for this doctor. This doctor, ironically, was diagnosed late with a deadly form of cancer, so advanced that not even modern medicine could cure him.

Not knowing what to do, he looked to the small, simple soybean. He saw how food could be a medicine and so he focused on how natural food could nourish his body and cure him. Through a diet of naturally fermented food made from soybean- especially cheonggukjang, he was able to magically reverse the tide of cancer and return to health.

In tribute to the bean that saved his life, he decided to open up Hong Yeong Jae Cheonggukjang: a Korean restaurant that focuses on natural, curative food that emphasizes food made from fermented soybean paste.

Besides being healthy, the food is delicious. Each dish is prepared creatively and with an emphasis on flavor. One of the first courses had a whole tomato filled with a bean sauce with a mustard dressing. There was also natto (lightly fermented soybean) with bean sprouts. Their poached pork belly dish (bossam) was served with sour, aged kimchi- a wonderful counterpoint for the savory meat. A salad I really enjoyed had almonds, green chives and a wild sesame seed dressing. There were so many dishes that came out such as a grilled, marinated beef patties, corvina fish in a sesame, soy sauce, and even spicy octopus.

The last dish to come out was a simple bowl of Rich Soybean Paste Stew (Cheonggukjang) with a bowl of rice. This soup made from the magical beans that was able to save a doctor’s life was enlightening. The rich, creamy stew was soothing and I felt satiated. Food is medicine and we should keep that in mind.

Hong Yong Jae
3-stars out of 4 (All natural food in a modern Korean atmosphere. Food is creative and nourishing)
Seoul, Gangnam-gu Samseongdong  109-8 (서울 강남구 삼성동 109-8)

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Korean Eats

Breakfast: Stinky Soybean Stew

Stinky Tofu Stew

Breakfast yesterday was Cheonggukjeong Stew. I know I said that it is skinky, but that is how Koreans describe it themselves. The beans that are used in the stew are only fermented for a short time so it don’t have a lot of time to mature. As the beans mature, they lose that strong scent and become more of a paste. Cheonggukjeong is made with beans that are still quite ripe- think of them as a fruit that is super ripe yet almost on the verge of spoiling. The beans are whole and the soup is rich and thick. The entire meal is like a bowl of navy bean stew with ham- just a little spicier. You should give it a try.


Central Seoul 2, Korean Eats

Overpriced Korean Food, Small Servings, but Thanks for the Corn

Corn, Sweet Potato, and Edamane at Bulgogi Brothers Restaurant in Seoul

Bulgogi Brothers is a franchise Korean restaurant. It seems almost like a westerner decided to make a Korean restaurant “foreigner friendly.” It’s not awful, it’s fine and I think it would work overseas. I could see Bulgogi Brothers do for Korean food what P.F. Chang did for Chinese-franchise it.

There is just one problem: they are in Korea. The food is alright, but not totally authentic and it seems a bit overpriced for what you get. The banchan (side-dishes) lack freshness and punch. The styling is quite nice though and I would take some of my “not-so-adventurous” guests there.

The bulgogi is pretty good though, but not as good as Sariwon or Woo Lae Oak. Also, on top of that, the prices are marked up 20% from regular Korean food prices. A Cheongukjang (a rich, fermented soybean stew) was 8,000 won and I believe the bibimbap was as well. The problem was not with the prices, but the lack of quality. I got a half bowl of cheongukjang that wasn’t very flavorful. Again, it’s one of those places that look very nice, but can’t deliver food to match.

Oh, did I mention that the styling of the place is good? It is. Oh, and they have comfortable chairs and a catchy name. Hmmm…(my writing teacher always told me to end on a positive note) Oh, they give you corn, with edamane, and sweet potatoes as a starter. It was a very nice touch.

Bulgogi Brothers
Locations throughout Seoul

Kimchi and Pork Stew which came late and by the time it finished cooking everyone else had finished eating at Bulgogi Brothers Restaurant in Seoul

Blase Banchan at Bulgogi Brothers Restaurant in Seoul (the pumpkin was good)

Bibimbap with dried bulgogi!  at Bulgogi Brothers Restaurant in Seoul

My Sad Half Bowl of Cheongukjang at Bulgogi Brothers Restaurant in Seoul