Seoul 2012 report - quick snippets
A number of food places have changed (closed down or moved to a different address) since our last visit some months ago - notably Bong San Jib's location near COEX is now a few streets further away (call for directions / new address).
* Gangnam Myun Oak (Sinsa-dong, Gangnam) - This is one of two well-known places in Seoul for kalbijjim (braised beef ribs on the bone). Even the smallest kalbijjim is a huge serving. We also got steamed mandu, naengmyeon (we over-ordered for 2 people). The sauce (seems like a kochujang based sauce but with kanjang, spring onions & some other stuff) is very more-ish with the mandu & the ribs. They serve beef soup instead of tea, very comforting on the tummy.
* Jung Sik Dang (Sinsa-dong, Gangnam) - CH'er Tomeats had good things to say abt this place, finally got round to trying it. Well-executed fusion food e.g. jalapeno (or actually probably they were korean green peppers) bread, clam sujebi, sea urchin bibimbab, interesting 'molecular' presentation of the seasonal patbingsu (lit. red bean ice). They also have a location in NYC, the menu looks pretty much the same but twice the price(!).
* Yeongyang Nutrition Centre (Myeongdong) - roasted tongdak (spring chicken), very crisp skin, not oily at all. Flesh a bit dryer (probably necessary side-effect to get the skin that crisp). Also has samgyetang. The gamjatang (pork & potato stew) place just round the corner looked good too but we were in the mood for something non-spicy.
* Sanbong hwaro gui (Rodeo Drive, Gangnam) - Marinated thin-sliced fatty beef (yangnyeom samgyeop) for grilling, nice flavor & meat quality. But mysteriously they had pre-set the none-too-clean table with some limp looking sanchae (veg that accompanies the barbecued meats). By the time we sat down they had pretty much wilted away in the heat.
* Porridge place whose name I've forgotten temporarily (Myeongdong) - Pleasant abalone porridge, very more-ish (raw) squid pickle. Could probably have eaten two bowls of porridge each with that pickle.
* O'sulloc (Insadong) - Manufacturer / retailer of tea, they specialize in green tea & have their own plantation on Jeju Island. The 3-storey location in Insadong is their tea boutique where on the first floor you can sample / buy their pre-packaged teas (average quality but nice packaging, very good as gifts for casual tea drinkers), on the second floor is their cafe with delicious tea-flavored desserts (my vote for the roll cake with fresh cream) & the third floor is their 'boutique' where they conduct special tea tastings of the premium teas. A convenient stopover on the way to Ssamziegil (just opposite) too.
* Hadongkwan (Daechi-dong, Gangnam) - Nice kkakdugi (radish pickles) but the soup itself was a bit gamey.
* Kim Buk Sun Keun Nabi Jib (Garosugil, Gangnam) - Lots of Japanese tourists & plenty of celebs come here apparently (signed lids on the walls & Japanese articles posted on the door). They specialize in stews. The kimchi jjigae (stew) was better than the soondubu jjigae but both pretty forgettable.
* Shigol Bossam (Sadang) - Bossam is their speciality and the spread looked quite appealing... until we spotted the large fly bathing in the kimchi dish. The taste of their food wasn't good enough to overcome our sudden loss of appetite.
* Pro Soy Crab (location near COEX, Gangnam) - The crab they used for their soy-sauce marinated raw crab (kanjang gyejang) & crab stew was less than fresh (fishy odor / taste when raw & flesh sticks to the shell when cooked, poor texture & lacking in sweetness). A surprise as they're recommended in all the guidebooks for their crab. In retrospect perhaps they're over-touristed (?) & we should have tried the other popular soy crab place up in Sincheon instead.
* Gaehwaok (Apgujeong) - This was a recommendation from the hotel for bulgogi. In future we probably shouldn't take recommendations from the hotel as our experiences suggest they tend to recommend expensive place with good atmosphere but not very good food.
Wishlist for next trip - a good (haemul) soondubu jjigae place, jokbal at one of the top 3 places in Seoul
Thanks for your report. I'm still working on mine. We went to a buglgoi place next to the Livestock Market. You choose your steaks at the meat counter, and then they bring them to your table. We chose steaks that were $13 and $30. The $30 steak was exceptional. The $13 steak was just not the same experience. How does this jive with the prices at Gaehwok?
Gaewhaok was about W100,000 (USD90) for 1 order of bulgogi + chadolbaegi. To put the prices into perspective, it's not expensive compared to eating out for 2 elsewhere in the world, but in Seoul I think it's pretty easy to find better taste for lesser cost.
Look forward to reading your report :)