It was late winter. Finding a place to eat in Seoul, South Korea, could be challenging for foreigners. Most diners only use Hangul (Korean traditional alphabet) for sign boards, let alone food stalls by the street. I was frustrated because I have planned where to eat based on Lonely Planet guide (Even when the diners were marked on the maps). You can do the same and try to find it, but when you don’t, just find a crowded place and get yourself comfortable. They are, indeed, d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.
Out of all places I’ve planned, Gogung is the one I actually found without any difficulties. It was located at Insadong area, at the lower level of Ssamzie building which is actually a 3-level outdoor mall.
Although located on the basement, Gogung has a beautiful traditional interior and offers live traditional music on Friday nights at 7 pm. They specialized in Jeonju Bibimbap which is slightly different from Dolsot Bibimbap (rice mixed with vegetables, beef and egg served in stone hotpot) most foreigners ate. Jeonju Bibimbap is served on cold bowl with rice mixed with vegetables, nuts and raw minced beef.
I always eat my food hot, so I definitely don’t like Jeonju Bibimbap. My husband likes Dolsot Bibimbap better too, but if you like your food really fresh, you’ll love Jeonju Bibimbap. You will also be served with 4 to 6 variety of side dishes in almost every diners. In addition to Bibimbap, we also ordered some kind of beef stew/soup which is very very delicious. Sweet and savory, strong but tender and melt in the mouth.
Gogung can also be found at Myeongdong Area, a different kind of paradise. If Insadong is the centre of arts, Myeongdong is the modern shopping centre filled with men and women of every age, every night, until midnight. What is shopping without good food, right?
My number one favorite in MyeongDong area is Bongchu Jjimdak, where they only serve one main dish. Jjimdak is basically boiled chicken; and this Bongchu Jjimdak is taking it to the next level with its sweet, savory, and spicy thick soup served with thin chinese noodle. The taste is kicking one another, trying to make another room for another spoon through the burning spiciness.
If spicy is not your thing, go out of MyeongDong area toward the big street heading to N-Seoul Tower. Just across the street you can find a diners called ‘Twoowt’ (read: Two-Two). Their most popular dish is the fried chicken. The second best is the sweet and spicy chicken. Go for the fried chicken if you like savory; you’ll love the crispiness of the skin just right. The sweet and spicy one is perfect if you like to indulge yourself with sauces; the tastes are again, kicking my tongue deliciously.
Want something warmer and healthy? I found a place in one of the little alleys at MyeongDong, looking at their signboard in front of the main street. They specialized in traditional food, but we wanted to try Samgyetang, a popular Ginseng Soup with young chicken, rice, ginger, ginseng, and some other medicinal herbs. The rice, apparently, is inside the chicken. Please, save yourself, don’t order rice like I did… (How am I s’posed to know there’s rice in it, let alone INSIDE the chicken? You have to order this, though. It felt like a long live legacy. Like your Grandma makes it for you, to keep you away from cold and illness. Love it!
Enough with chicken, MyeongDong offers so much more than you can imagine. From different kind of sausages, buns, smoked seafood, tteokboki (Korean traditional rice cake), chicken skewers, and many others.
But the most amazing snack I’ve ever taste is this fried sliced potato on a skewer.It’s similar to the Tornado Potato Food Truck I’ve found here on LA, but this one in MyeongDong tastes sooo much better in taste, textures, and size 😉 They would deep-fry it and roll it in seasonings. Everything is so crispy but the inner side of the potato is still soft and sweet although they are thin. They seasoned it thoroughly that every bite tastes amazing.
What’s better than ending a journey with royal-like tea time in a Hanok? Back home to our roots…