Central Seoul 2, Non-Korean Eats

Revisited: OK Kitchen

Sashimi Platter at O Kitchen
Tuna Platter (Susumu’s Dinner)
Susumu Yongari

Whenever I go to O Kitchen I feel like I am visiting old friends. Well, the friends that I would really like to meet: artistic foodies that can hold a decent conversation while juggling knives. This is a place I have visited extensively and so I will let the photos tell the story.

The menu during my last visit was:
/An Assorted Sashimi Platter that included Sea squirt, halibut, mackerel, snapper and more
/A Polenta Cake with soft boiled quail egg
/Persimmon Sorbet
/A Pastrami cold plate with garden grown carrots
/Seafood Pasta with Ugly Ravioli
/Chicken Four Ways
/Fish Four Ways
/Dessert Platter that included Persimmon Pie, Beet dessert topped with Gorgonzola Ice Cream and Chocolate Souffle with mint cream

Garden Grown Carrot

Fish Four Ways
Chicken Four ways
Chocolate with Espresso Ice Cream and Mint Cream
Beet Souffle with Gorgonzola Ice Cream
Persimmon Pie
Dessert at O Kitchen

My past reviews of this restaurant

Slow Food at OK2 Kitchen Review up on Visitseoul.net

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Central Seoul 2, Non-Korean Eats

Restaurant Write Up: Vatos Urban Tacos in Itaewon

This is a guest post written and photographed by the fabulous Megan O’Brien. 

Vatos Tacos in Itaewon
Vatos Tacos in Itaewon
Vatos Tacos in Itaewon
Vatos Tacos in Itaewon

It is a fact that Korean food is up and coming on the world food scene. It is also a well known that tacos have been making a triumphant comeback for a couple years now. In the U.S., food trucks have been popping up in cities offering a combination of the two in the form of Korean tacos. The simple presentation of tacos provides an opportunity to be creative and artistic with ingredients and the distinct flavors of Korean BBQ is the perfect filling. 

Recently in Seoul, two guys from California and Texas, respectively, have been able to successfully offer Korean tacos in a casual, sit-down restaurant format. With the hip name, Vatos Urban Tacos, you get the impression that the guys know a thing or two about what people in Seoul are looking for in a taco and have given taco enthusiasts in Seoul an opportunity to try well crafted food in a nice yet accessible setting.

Presently, there are 5 styles of tacos on their menu. They offer the tried and true carne asada as well as very impressive carnitas. For Korean tacos they have samgyeopsal and galbi-two Korean BBQ favorites and they have recently added fish tacos to their menu. I think that the carnitas, which is phenomenal, really stood out. The galbi taco, also delicious, was a perfect match with the cilantro, chilies and cabbage filling. The flavor of the fish tacos were on par with the famous street tacos you can find down in Baja.

Along with tacos, the menu also offers excellent appetizers. The most unique are Kimchi Carnitas Fries and Kimchi Quesadillas- a great option for vegetarians. They also have made a great tortilla soup, which is the ultimate comfort food for a homesick Californian like myself.
Vatos offers a highly creative and exciting drink menu. In addition to having local and craft beers, they have a mean Bloody Mary. Their ultimate drink for those of us in South Korea is the Makgeollita. A drink that combines the popular Korean beverage, makgeolli with the classic margarita. The Makgeollita is offered in different fruit flavors; mango and strawberry being my favorite.

In addition to the great food and a cool setting, I have been really impressed by the two gentlemen that run the place. Having been there a handful of times now I have had the opportunity to chat with the guys a bit. They definitely know what goes into making a good taco and they are enthusiastic to supply high-quality food to their patrons.

Vatos Tacos in Itaewon

Address : Yongsan-gu Itaewon-dong, 181-8 용산구 이태원동 181-8 2층 02-797-8226 [email protected]
Phone :02-797-8226
Website : http://www.vatoskorea.com
Vatos Tacos is located on the same street as Wolfhound and JR’s, just farther down the hill. Behind where Dillinger’s and Outback would be. Across from the Family Mart.

Megan is from San Diego, CA. She’s interested in things involving cycling, food politics, coffee, taking photos, whiskey, music that incorporates a peddle steel, overalls and cut-offs. When she’s not riding a bike around Seoul or taking photos, she teaches. Her blog is: http://www.thetoohugeworld.wordpress.com

Come take a cooking class or take a Culinary Tour in Seoul! http://www.ongofood.com

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Korean Eats, Non-Korean Eats, The Best of Seoul

Guest Post: Seoulgrub’s 5 Favorite “Grubberies” in Seoul!

It is always great to meet other people that share a love of food. I got to meet with Seoul Grub a couple months back and he is definitely a foodie. His blog is a great resource for those looking for good eats. Here are some of his favorite places in Seoul. Also, if you are interested in contributing a post to Seoul Eats, please contact me at seouleats at gmail dot com.

Seoulgrub’s 5 Favorite “Grubberies” in Seoul!

In no particular order:

Vatos Urban Tacos

1 – Vatos Urban Tacos: A spunky spot located in Itaewon where they serve up “Tacos, Margaritas, and everything in between,” this place does taco’s deliciously. They have incorporated fresh, authentic ingredients to muster up a delicious fusion blend of Mexican and Korean flavored dishes. Staying true to what a taco should be, Vatos Urban Tacos has a variety of tasty taco choices, finger-licking hot sauces (plural), and a great selection of drinks to accompany your meal. I recommend getting each of the different types of meats, along with the “Makgeollirita.”

a. 2F 66-8 Itaewon-dongt. 02.797.8226

Galbijjim at Gangnam Myun Oak

2 – Gangnam Myun Oak (강남면옥): Galbijim is my all-time favorite Korean dish. There’s just something about marinated beef ribs that tickle my taste buds in the perfect way. This restaurant has got all of the ingredients right and provides a variety of supplemental dishes to enhance your dining experience. I would recommend going here with some close, hungry friends, order the biggest portion of galbijim, some soju, an order of their mandu (steamed dumplings), some naengmyeon (cold noodles), and finish off the meal by asking them to make some fried rice with the leftover galbijim marinade. After this meal, you’ll know why I love this dish so much.

a. Sinsa-dong 588-9t. 02.3446.5539

Samgyeopsal at Hwa Tohng Jip

3 – Hwa Tohng Jip (화통집): Korean BBQ is a must when you’re in Seoul. I absolutely love eating ssam-gyup-ssal (sliced pork), especially when accompanied by great company and some soju. Although you can usually find ssam-gyup-ssal in almost any neighborhood, this place has become a favorite destination of mine, because of their double-cooked pork slices, and their kimchi stew. Whatever it is that they’ve marinated their pork in, I absolutely love it! Order their double-cooked pork, and some kimchi stew (don’t forget the company and the soju!); take a perilla/sesame leaf, lettuce, add some sliced green onions, a little bit of rice, a small piece of kimchi, a pork slice, a roasted garlic slice, and some of their ssam-jang (soy bean paste), eat it, then finish it off with some of the kimchi stew (salivating now…).

a. Jamsil-dong 177-4t. 02.2202.8003 ‎

tteokbokki from Mokshi Donna

 4 – Eat, Rest, Money, Out: Another Korean staple you have to try is tteokbokki, a spicy rice cake dish found almost anywhere in Seoul, even on the streets! A friend asked me to join her for some ddeokbokki, specifically at this hard-to-find place. I was taken aback by the restaurant name because at first it made no sense, but I think I understood what they were trying to get at after my dining experience. This place can get a little crowded during lunch hours so take heed! I would also recommend bringing someone who can read and understand Korean because there is no English menu. The main, most popular dish is ddeokbokki, and you get to decide what other ingredients come with it. We ordered: fish cake, eggs, noodles, fried dumplings, beef, and something else (can’t recall what exactly it was). But it was THE best tteokbokki I’ve had, and will definitely have again.

a. Sogyeok-dong 144-6 (may not be accurate)t. 02-723-8089

Calguksu from Myeongdong Gyoja

 5 – Myeong-Dong Gyoza: A popular destination in Myeong-dong, that serves up delicious “Knife-cut” noodles and excellent steamed gyoza. There’s just something about this place that hits the spot compared to other places that serve up the same dish. I don’t know if it’s the broth, the noodles, the juice-filled gyoza, or their garlic kimchi, but I just love dining here. Can’t say much else about this place, except that it’s world famous!

a. 25-2 Myeongdong 2(i)-gat. 02-776-5348

Seoulgrub is a fellow foodie in Seoul seeking out the best “grubberies” that Korea has to offer. Originally from Los Angeles, Seoulgrub lives by this philosophy: “Good stuff in, good stuff out.” You can find out more about Seoulgrub here.

Come take a cooking class or take a Culinary Tour in Seoul! http://www.ongofood.com
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Central Seoul 2, Non-Korean Eats

Revisited: Austrian Dinner at Chef Meili in Itaewon

I don’t know why but I had not been back to one of my old haunts in months. I had stopped in from time to time to get sausages at the deli, but I had not stopped in the restaurant in a while. On Sunday, one of my chef friends and I decided to explore non-Korean restaurants in the Itaewon area. My friend, Ulbee, works at a Korean restaurant so she wasn’t in the mood to drink soju and have Korean food. Thank goodness because neither was I. Our first stop that evening was at Chef Meili’s Austrian restaurant in Itaewon. 
Chef Meili is known for his sausages and his Vienner Schnitzel and his gluhwein. I have indulged in his restaurant many times in the past (especially during the holiday seasons). I don’t know why but his food reminds of my holidays back home. 
Sure enough as soon as I stepped in, the chef, Christian Meilinger, was there to greet me. He is a big, boisterous guy and he said, “wow, it’s a surprise to see you.” We talked a bit and I sat with my friend. The restaurant at 7pm was a bit empty. There was only one other table sitting and I was wondering if the restaurant had lost some of the magic that made it popular.
We perused the menu and decided on Chef Meili’s sausage platter with potatoes and saurkraut (14,500 won) and a platter (sorry, I can’t recall the name) that had a potato pancake like dish with pork medallions in a butter, cream sauce (26,000 won). With this we got a bottle of their Austrian red wine (40,000 won).
The atmosphere was quaint and so was the wine. It had a bit of tannin and a dark cherry finish. It was chilled slightly so it was very drinkable.
Oh, we started with a soup. It was a pork broth soup that had pork meatballs flavored with sauerkraut. It had some celery and carrots floating in the broth as well. 
I thought it was fine, but Ulbee said that it was too salty. This started a conversation about if foreign food was too salty or not. 
Soup at Chef Meili

Then our first main course came out. The potato pancakes were delicious- crispy with a bit of oil and it was a hearty complement to the pork. The pork had a nice sauce, but it wasn’t overly exciting. It was creamy and buttery and it went well when put on the pancake. I think it could have used a bit more pepper.

Chef Meili’s in Itaewon

The star of the meal came next. You can always rely on the homemade sausages and sauerkraut at Chef Meili. They are pan-fried till they are crisp and the meat inside is flavorful and delicious. I think I could have eaten a whole plate full of the sausages. The sauerkraut was a nice complement to the savory meat. My favorite way to eat it was to stack a bit of each element: savory sausage, sour sauerkraut, a bit fried potato and onion, and a dollop of mustard. It is a perfect Sunday night dinner. 

Chef Meili’s
Telephone: 794-7024
Location: Next to Gecko’s Terrace, across from the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Days: Closed Mondays

Sausage Platter at Chef Meili

A Day Of Sights And Food

Seoul is always full of surprises and I always see something new as I wander the city with friends. While visiting Namsan Tower I saw a Hell’s Angels-like crew of Korean Police officers parked near the tower. I don’t know why they were there but I don’t think there was some raid or anything. 
The interesting thing about the police officers are the bikes- they drive nice bikes. Most of the bikes are either Harley Davidson’s or BMW bikes. That’s pretty cool, right? The Popo in Seoul cruise in style.
If you go over to the Samcheongdong area you’ll see a big fence that has a very interesting painting of a naked Mona Lisa. Look how they have strategically placed the trees. I also love the blush on her cheeks. 
The display is an advertisement for an art show at the National Museum of Art that will show naked pieces of art.
Lunch was at a tteokgalbi place over in Samcheongdong. I don’t remember the name of the place but it is on the corner from Samcheongdong Sujebi. They had delicious marinated pork tteokgalbi, stone bowl rice and decent side dishes. They had a wasabi marinated jelly dish that was good. The place is usually packed on the weekends and I can see why.
On Wednesday Nights at Dillinger’s they have wings night (300 won wings). I went with my work colleagues to enjoy 20 wings and some other foods. The burgers at Dillinger’s are quite good- nicely spiced with a bit of oregano. I recommend you get the spicy wings and the green curry wings. The green curry wings are delicious with savory notes of coconut milk.