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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Photographs, Tidbits of Zen

Shots from a Korean Wedding

Last weekend was another incredible weekend of food. (That’s why I went for a long run today, 3 miles!) I am learning that it is a lot easier to eat the calories instead of keeping them off. On Saturday afternoon (after I went to Fermentation Celebration) I went to a friend’s cousin’s wedding. After seeing the ceremony I was obligated to eat, so here are some shots of the food.
Jelly Fish Salad
Taro, Bracken and other side dishes
My plate that has togani (ox tendons) broccoli, kimbap, baby octopus and more
At every wedding you go, you have to have the noodle soup.
Food News, Korean Eats

The Origin of Patbingsu

With Summer about to be in full force, I am looking for ways to cool myself down. The best way I have found is with something cool and refreshing. My blood is not 2 parts mulnaengmyeon (chilled buckwheat noodle soup) and 2 parts Korean ice cream and patbingsu. The other 6 parts are just my regular diet of rice, soup, soju, beer etc- not necessarily in that order.
These days, I have had a pressing question in my brain: what is the origin of patbingsu? 
Of course, there are variations of this snow ice dessert in other countries, but if you look at the classic patbingsu. You have fruit cocktail, sweetened condensed milk, corn flakes, and ice during summer. Could this been a dessert to have started during ancient times?

According to the Korea Herald, during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897),  ”Seobingo ― the government office in charge of the royal ice box ― would share ice with fellow officials, who would enjoy it finely crushed and mixed with fruit for a granita-like dessert.” 

So, I guess it was something that only the privileged could have. The story places the origin at the famous bakery “Tae Keuk Dang.” This place is famous for their ice cream sandwiches (I’ve had them and they taste like sugary, watered down milk with a hint of vanilla. It’s nice that it’s not overly sweet, but it is nothing that is mind-boggling.) Their patbingsu is better. This one has lots of milk over crunchy ice topped with red beans and fruit cocktail. The best part of their patbingsu is the corn flakes and the sweet and chewy rice cake candy.

There are variations of this dish such as green tea patbingsu (the one at Neal’s Yard is outstanding) and coffeebingsu (Cafe de Coin is awesome), but the old-style patbingsu that has milk, beans, and roasted bean powder is a fake.

That is a modern interpretation of what an old patbingsu would be.

Why? Because people didn’t have the ice back then to make this dish.

I asked a number of older people at a cafe in Jongno this afternoon about this and they started a very excited debate about this dish. The topic of patbingsu was very dear to them. And they all had their opinions of how this dish started. What they agreed on is that the modern version of this dish has its origins after the Korean war and during the US occupation. 

They said that this dish was made from the USA surplus supplies and were first sold at street vendors and later at cafes. It was a way to beat the heat and to offer a sweet to the changing diet of Koreans that began to develop a “sweet tooth.”

Huh, pretty interesting stuff. 
Here are the main ingredients for this dessert. The full recipe and video can be found at Aeri’s Kitchen here. 

Main Ingredients

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Pictures are taken either with my Panasonic DMC-G2 Camera with 20mm Lens or with my iPhone 4G
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Food News, Korean Eats

Yelp’s Got Seoul!

It looks like the Korean food scene in Washington DC is hopping. This is a yelp newsletter that my friend Chris e-mailed me.
Thanks Chris, I definitely have to check out the DC food scene.

The Washington DC Weekly Yelp
May 4, 2011

Yelp’s Got Seoul!

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On The Radar

Giving Is Stylish!

This Ain’t No GTL Party!

DC Is In Bloom:

Bringing All Of The Boys (And Girls) To The Yard:

Come On Ride The Train… And Ride It!

Let’s face it: DC’s got Seoul! With so many K-style eateries around, your eyes are bound to bulgogi! From the best bibimbap to some kickin’ kimchi, this Weekly is here to curb your cravings with a piping hot list of the best Korean this side of Busan!

Annandale is the place to be for a carnivorous feast! Fancy a late night blow ‘n’ slurp? Yechon is open 24/7. Ruth C opts for the Heuk Yumso Jeon Gol goat soup which “comes out still boiling,” with a broth that is “meaty, spiced and so filling.” Megs T prefers to chew the fat at Honey Pig and experiences “meat-gasms” over their melt-in-your-mouth pork belly: “It doesn’t get any better than this if you’re a true carni.” Oegadgib’s “sizzling and dribbling” meats remind Noel O just how obsessed with Korean BBQ he is, so much so that it’s got him thinking, “Maybe this means I was Korean in a former life?” Doubtful, Noel. It’s just universally delicious!

With all the meatheads on Yelp, Jaime D reassures us that if you are “a vegetarian or prefer tofu to meat, Mandu is very accommodating and will do substitutions on most dishes” for something a little more PETA-approved. Hue K gets her bibimbap to-go at the Rice Bar and loves that they have “non-traditional toppings like corn, avocado and fried onion flakes.” When Laura L has got fried mandu dumplings on the mind, she makes a move for Kyung Ju. On top of having “more banchan than you can shake a chopstick at,” they usually have Korean soaps or gameshows playing on the TV!

Leave the brick and mortar behind and embrace the streets. Venu N tracks down the Bulgogi Cart, which he describes as a “simple, yellow, florescent beacon of love amongst the trendy proliferation of DC’s roving food trucks.” He likes to feast “upon the tender thin slices of sirloin marinated in that unmistakable blend of soy sauce, sesame seed oil and fiery spices.” Looking for a little kimchi tofu soup to soothe the soul? Monica L suggests heading to the Korean Food Cart, where the broth is “murky, spicy, hot and salty… For food coming out of a tiny cart the size of my desk, it’s just incredible.” C’mon, get souped up!

Labels For Love presents the MODUS UNION 2011 fashion show and special tribute to Elizabeth Edwards. Join Mary Amons, cast member of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of DC and founder of Labels For Love, celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson, designer Marc Bouwer and actress Fran Drescher, the founder of Cancer Schmancer as we raise funds and promote awareness of early detection and prevention of female cancers. If you cannot attend the event, you can still support Labels For Love by making a donation online!
It’s not too late! There are still tickets left for tonight’s event. Buy your tickets now!

Top Yelpers

See who’s been mouthing off this week!

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Frank W.

Jennifer S.

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Picks of the Week

Reviews we liked this week.

Jennifer M. on Cafe Chocolate
“I see that most reviews here are about that you can smoke here. Let me expand by adding what I observed about the other aspects of Cafe Chocolate as I’m sure that point has already been beaten to death and beyond.

Cafe Chocolate has ample parking out front. When you walk up to it, it looks small but…”

Aaron H. on Bon Chon Chicken
“Yes the service is bad, the waits are long, and its way out in Annandale.  But the chicken makes it five stars!   Even if they cussed me out when I came and I had to drive 5 hours to get it, the chicken would be five stars.

It is a life changing event.

I prefer take out b/c of the bad service, but…”

Irene C. on Gom Tang E
“Their main soup dish is the Sulungtang.  It’s written on the menu as gom tang.  I had the meat only gom tang.  The white clear but creamy tasting soup is made from boiling meat bones in a pot that is bigger than the size of your tub.  It’s boiled for almost a whole day and then served with clear…”

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“Walk in smelling like crisp fresh air, walking out smelling like a sweet meat smoker…now that’s what I’m talking about.”
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Korean Eats

Hangover Soup to Ease Your Woozy Head

Pork back Hangover Soup 

Got a hangover? Well, the best way to cure it is with a bowl full of piping hot soup full of pork-back bones, potatoes, and wild sesame seeds. Trust me. Much better than a plate full of eggs, sausages, and toast. Wondang Gamjatang isn’t the best place for this hangover stew, but it’s a pretty reliable bet- plus you can find them all around the country. The kicker for this place is the ground wild sesame seed on top of the soup with the fresh green onions. They add a very herby-nutty flair to this dish. The broth is great as well- nice and porky.

Rice also does a great job of sopping up any leftover alcohol in your belly as well.

(If you are not hungover, it is just as good. I was not actually hungover when I had it.)

I have fond memories of this dish for it was my first breakfast when I came to Korea 6 years ago. These restaurants typically stay open 24 hours, so you can get it anytime you’d like.



Wondang Kamjatang
Locations around the country.
This one is located in Insadong down the street from the McDonalds.

Pork back Hangover Soup at Wondang Kamjatang