Visiting the Motherland - Korean Restaurant Reviews

Visiting the Motherland - Korean Restaurant Reviews

While street food was great in Korea, we also spent a good amount of time trying different restaurants.

Of course, you can't talk about Korean food without talking about Korean barbeque. We went to several gogi (meat) restaurants, and one of them specialized in Korean beef, hanwoo.

Hanwoo is not as well known as Kobe beef, but it is also famous for the way cattle is bred and raised and for its amazing marbling.  Ttook Shim Hanwoo offered meat that was melt in your mouth delicious.  Meat was cooked on charcoal made from Oak Wood, which enhanced the flavor.  It was one of our more expensive dinners in Korea, but one that was worth it.

We also went to a restaurant known for Hangjungsal, which is pork neck/jowl meat. It was succulent and tender at Dae Bu Chan. We ordered a steamed egg, and it was the biggest and softest steamed egg ever.  Can you see the steam coming out of it? To finish the meal, we ordered kimchi noodles, and it came out with ice floating in the broth. Deliciously cold, it was a great ending to the meal.

Another barbeque place, Yoo Ga Ne, specializes in spicy chicken cooked on an iron skillet. You can order it with cheese, which is in the outer edge of the pan. As the chicken cooks, the cheese melts, and it becomes a Korean spicy chicken fondue. Spicy food in melted ooey gooey cheese somehow make a great combination!  The fried rice at the end doesn't hurt either.heart

One night, we fell asleep early, and woke up around 12am, not able to go back to sleep (perks of jet-lag). We decided to go for chi-maek, which is chicken and maekju (Korean for beer), because anything fried is delicious at midnight, and ice cold beer with fried chicken? Such a good combo, Koreans have come up with a special name for it.

Last place we went to for gogi was a place known for their tteokgalbi. Tteokgalbi is minced galbi (rib) meat mixed with different veggies, seasoned, and shaped into a round patty and cooked on a grill.  We enjoyed tteokgalbi at Nun Namu Jip with their kimchi noodles and kimchi pancakes.  Doesn't it just make your mouth water?

Nun Namu Jip is located in Sam-Chung-Dong, which is an area filled with cute restaurants and cafes.  I recommend coming and spending an afternoon here, it was one of my favorite neighborhoods in Korea.   

Now, I hope most people know there is so much more to Korean food than just cooked meat and kimchi. Koreans also love their soups, rice, and noodles.

Tosokchon is one of the most famous Samgyetang restaurants in Seoul, and thank goodness they make kick ass Samgyetang, because that is all they make. Samgyetang is ginseng, jujube, sweet rice, and various herbs stuffed in a baby chicken and cooked for hours. Known to boost your stamina, you season with salt and pepper, and just a mound of delicious kimchi is all you need for a wonderful meal.  I highly recommend stopping here for a meal, it will be well worth a trip.  The taste is not like anything you can get in the States.  Hubby had the black chicken which is considered healthier, and I had the regular chicken.

At a restaurant across the street from our hotel, we also had galbi-tang (galbi soup). This restaurant was open 24 hours, and this is how we started the day, breakfast with a huge bone shank cooked for hours. Now this is breakfast!  I had the chung-gook-jang, which is fermented bean paste stew, and they give you some rice and veggies in case you want to mix the stew with rice and add gochujang for a simple bibimbap.

Another hearty breakfast we had was sujebi. Sujebi is dough torn into bite size pieces by hand, and MuGyo-Dong Sujebi was a great way to start the day as the broth was piping hot and delicious.  A side of dumplings was surprisingly tasty.  Who needs Din Tai Fung?

In Insadong, we went to a restaurant specializing in old school lunchboxes.  This wasn't a restaurant as much as a café for young couples or groups of friends, but it was cute and yummy.  We ordered their old school lunchbox, a side of tteokbokki, and shaved ice dessert.  Byul-Dabang Miss Lee (Miss Lee Café) didn't have the best food, but it certainly was charming.  Lots of celebrities have visited here too, leaving their pictures on their walls.

Speaking of shaved ice, there were so many cafes, donut shops, and bakeries all over Seoul offering all kinds of desserts.  No shortage of cakes, waffles, shaved ice, or ice cream. 

One of the most memorable cafes was Hello Kitty Café we stumbled upon.  OMG, Hello Kitty from head to toe, from walls to chairs to tables.  I had heard about this mythical café, and it was surreal to actually be there.  Truth be told, I'm not a huge Hello Kitty fan (gasp!), but it was still fun to hang out and eat a Hello Kitty strawberry cake.  I can definitely cross that off my bucket list! ;)

My favorite dessert place was Sul-Bing.  It's a chain that is all over Seoul, and they had the best shaved ice!  I really hope they come to the States, because it was dee-lish!  Shaved ice was fine and fluffy, toppings were generous, and I wish I could've gone there a few more times before we left.  If you're in Korea and see one of their locations, don't hesitate.... great shaved ice, guaranteed!

I couldn't review all the restaurants we went to, so I'll share some photos of other meals we had while we were in Korea. 

We had some barbeque eel...

and beef soup...

and kimchi jjigae....

and bibimbap...

and jjajangmyun...

and green tea ice cream with red bean...

and bean powder (injeolmi) toast...

and Softree soft serve!!

A few things we learned eating our way through Korea:

1.  Mom and pop restaurants are better than fancy restaurants.  Don't be afraid to try the small, family owned restaurants.

2.  Kimchi in Korea is delicious.  At every restaurant.

3.  Food is cheap in Korea.  Beer is cheap in Korea.  Soju is very, very cheap in Korea (a bottle is less than 4 dollars).  Therefore, getting drunk is cheap in Korea.

4.  Desserts cost as much as a meal.  It was cheaper to eat a meal than to order a dessert and a coffee.

5.  No tipping is necessary, but that also means a lot of aspects are self-serve.  You usually serve yourself at cafes, and at restaurants, you get your own banchan, water, and utensils.

6.  Food comes out verrrry quickly at restaurants.  I think the longest we waited for food was about 5 minutes.

7.  Credit cards are accepted EVERYWHERE.  Taxis, street vendors, stores, all took credit cards, and there was no minimum.  Even 2 dollar transactions.

8.  Supermarkets in Korea are NICE.  Huge, clean, and organized with samples of food everywhere.  I could've spent hours in a "mart".

9.  Food courts in department stores are even nicer.  Any kind of food you can think of, and it is so clean, you'd be amazed.  Nothing like it in the States.

10.  BEST SUBWAY in the world!  Clean, organized, affordable.  But in a pinch, taxis are super cheap, starting at 3 dollars.

Related Posts:
Visiting the Motherland - Korean Street Food
Visiting the Motherland - Korea Sightseeing
Visiting the Motherland - Hanok Experience

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