Growing up, I was always a steak and potatoes kinda girl, opting for western food and refusing to eat the delicious homemade Korean food at the dinner table. I don’t know what it is but these days, I’ve been eating a lot of rice. A bowl or two in one sitting with some seaweed and just that. Obviously, this should not be every day fare, we need a balanced diet don’t we? And there are a ton of great Korean restaurants in Seoul that fit the bill. I wanted to introduce some really different Korean restaurants because most people think that Korean food is pretty one dimensional – I swear it’s not just Korean BBQ! So here we go!
The Traditional in a Contemporary Setting
I took my friend Mae to Modern Bapsang when she was visiting earlier this month. The restaurant is located smack dab in the middle of Garosugil surrounded by boutiques so you might miss it mistaking it for a clothes shop. Once you enter the little alcove lined with trees decorated with fairy lights, you are escorted to your table and presented with a menu that covers all the bases of standard Korean fare from gamja jeon (potato pancakes – W12,000) to bibimbap (rice with mixed vegetables W15,000) and come with a whole slew of banchan (side dishes).
“Meat,” she declared so dduk galbi (Korean beef patties – W17,000) it was for her, no red meat for me so I opted for the haemul dwaengjang jjigae (seafood soy bean stew – W20,000) which was a teensy bit watery for my taste. Portions are good, prices are slightly hight but you have the added bonus of eating at a restaurant that is apparently owned by Psy’s mother.
545-20 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
T: +82 2 546 6782
The Classy Joint for Big Groups
Moi Kitchen (pronounced Moh E) is supposedly a new hot spot in Hannam-dong right by the Cheil building. They have two locations, both in Hannam but in different areas so keep that in mind when you make reservations. Because there are so many options at this place, it’s best to go with a big group of people and try everything family style, just the way you’re supposed to eat Korean. Moi prides itself on using the freshest ingredients and not using MSG (which definitely makes your food taste good but is probably not the healthiest thing in the world). With a great mix is seafood and meat dishes, there is something for everyone and for those who want a tipple, they have a great selection of Korean and Western liquors. I went with my friend Hanna, who wasn’t too hungry so we chose the joomukbab (fist rice balls – W5,000) and the grilled fish of the day, with the slightly salty fish complementing the neutralising rice balls. I’ll probably do a more thorough review of this place after a second visit with a bigger group and check out the other location too!
2F 783-8 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu
T: +82 2 749 2173
The Almost Hole in the Wall
I really enjoyed my meal at Analog Kitchen despite the freezing weather outside and the sliding door that was perpetually opening and closing with people waiting outside. The space is tiny, I believe it was with the former brunch joint Bim Bom used to be, so seating is very very limited. The menu is pretty sparse, I didn’t even bother looking at the pasta dishes because I am pretty fed up with every restaurant in Korea serving some version of a spaghetti dish that you can just make at home. The stand out, and what Analog Kitchen is known for, is the grilled calamari rice (W13,000) that comes served on a bed of bean sprouts and chives and topped with a sunny side up egg. The octopus is succulent and not rubbery which is what happens when you overcook it and just everything about this dish comes perfectly together. Okay I’m craving this now so I’m going to stop.
261-6 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu,
T: +82 2 749 29272-749-2927
Do you have any recommendations for good Korean restaurants? Have to satiate my bab cravings while it lasts!