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May 23, 2012 12:52 AM

Seoul - Ceramic House: Authentic BBQ in a casual, hip setting

I'm just back from a trip to Seoul, and I got some great tips from the boards here. So I wanted to return the favor and post about a place that I discovered through a friend of a friend. Once in a while you come across a place that's just right - food, atmosphere, people. I found myself there 3-4 times on a 7 day visit.

Ceramic House is the charmingly amusing English name (Ong-Gi Jip in Korean) of a delightful little place that specializes in quality pork belly grilled on traditional ceramic grills at the table. The quirky, contemporary decor is a refreshing foil to the serious Korean meat, which is among the best I've had in Seoul. They also have other dishes - I liked their little bento-type box, made to be reminiscent of schoolkids' meals - with rice, meat, egg, and veggies. You add sauce, close it and shake it up, like kids in Korea do. Very fun, and it was nostalgic for the Korean peeps. The place overall is very laid back. No awkwardness about foreigners, no judgy servers. Just good people.

The owner is a funky young guy who, it seems, grew up in a family somewhat famous for its traditional BBQ restaurant. He went on to study modern food styling and then opened Ceramic House, which pays homage to great traditional meats while creating a very fresh, young, almost artistic atmosphere. We chatted with him for a bit - his English is decent, and he's a cool guy, very passionate about what he does.

The light is a little low in there, so my food pictures didn't come out well. But here's a couple of the place from the website just to give you an idea.

Anyway, if you're looking for an off-the-beaten-path place to go with friends or even on a date, check it out. Tell Jae Won (the owner) that CC from LA says hi. He'll be the guy with the shaved head and big glasses.

As with lots of places in Seoul, it can be a little hard to find:
Yeoksam-Dong 810-16 in Gangnam
Line 9. Sinnonhyeon Station, Exit 4. Come out and make the second right (it's a small street). Go straight until you reach the next small street. You'll see the restaurant to your right.

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  1. Just got food photos from my friend! His camera is better than mine.

    This pork was so good. I wish there were more pork Korean BBQ places in the US. Now I'm hungry...

    5 Replies
    1. re: heinous

      Nice. Did you guys grill the kimchi as well?!

      1. re: klyeoh

        Yup! The owner suggested it. I loved having it both ways. Raw, it provides a refreshing tartness and crunch. Grilled, it softens up and takes on a savoriness that goes really well with the meat. And don't forget the grilled garlic. :)

        1. re: heinous

          Great idea - I've always been wondering if we can grill kimchi. Must try that next time. Thanks!

          1. re: klyeoh

            Well technically, you can grill anything! I love throwing garlic and onions on the grill too. And one of my favorite tricks is to finish the meal by throwing some rice, the last scraps of meat, and whatever leftover panchan (kimchee, spinach, sprouts, mushrooms, whatever) all onto the grill and mixing it up. It's delicious; you pick up all the meaty flavor from the grill and get a good char on the rice at the same time. And these solid ceramic grills are perfect for it - this doesn't work as well on the usual metal grills.

            1. re: heinous

              The other thing to do is order a metal bowl of sesame oil and put your garlic in their to slow cook. Then it accompanies everything.

              But yes, a lot of Koreans grill the kimchi.

              Thanks for the tip heinous. Haven't heard about it over here. Will try it out.

    2. This sounds like a real find! I leave next week for 2 weeks in Korea and was looking to pull together a good list of neat places to hit, this will definitely be included.