Hwang’s Eel Resetaurant – Seoul

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Our friend is a huge CN Blue fan, and apparently one of the member’s father has a restaurant. I know nothing about the band, but she insisted we must go. Off we went to Hwang’s Eel Restaurant, which is as the name says, famous for grilled eels!

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The restaurant isn’t exactly glamorous looking or anything. above each table is a vacuum looking tube to suck our the smoke from the grills. As you can see, there is an area where you can sit on the floor. That area is basically the hardcore fans area since you’ll find tons of post-it-notes all over the walls with the fans comments.

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All around the restaurant, you will find pictures of the band. I guess if you are a die hard fan, this will definitely get you excited.

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First, they brought us the appetizers. You each get a seaweed soup, which was probably the worst I’ve had on this trip. Then, you get some sort of a garden salad, where the leaves were wimpy looking. You also get some sauces for dipping later, and some lettuce for wrapping you grilled items.

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Beef Rib Eye (2 orders)

When we tried to place our order, the server basically said you must order 2 orders of the grilled items. When we said no, she was just pissed off and said we must and walked away. Service here is definitely lacking and I felt like the servers hated their jobs here. The servers are all older aged ladies. In the end, we had to get 2 orders, and we got the Beef Rib Eye. Honestly, this looks so little for 2 orders! It was 12,000 won for one order, so it came to 24,000 won for this small plate! Pricey!

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Steamed Egg

We decided to not eat too much since the prices weren’t that cheap here. We added the Steamed Egg as well to just fill ourselves up, since it was only 4,000 won. The steamed egg was poorly made however. It was really watery in the center and lacked flavour. Something that shouldn’t be too hard to master…

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The meat ended up being decent wrapped in the leaves and topped with the ssamjang sauce (spicy soybean paste). However, I honestly don’t think the food is worth the prices here. It’s just average food with poor service. If you’re a fan of CN Blue and must come here, then don’t be expecting much from the food. If you’re not a fan, then I would advise to avoid this restaurant.

Address: 5-2 Yeongdeungpodong 3(sam)-ga, Seoul

Shinsegae (Gangnam) – Seoul

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Brick Pop

A trip to Seoul isn’t complete without checking out the famous Gangnam district. The Gangnam district is known to be one of the wealthiest districts in South Korea with high living standards. We took a taxi there and immediately found the area to have many high rises and business looking buildings. We decided to get dropped off at Shinsegae Department store. A trip to Shinsegae means going to the basement level to the food department! We came across Brick Pop, which features bright and vibrant popsicles using real fruit.

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K got this one which had a slice of peach and some passionfruit flavour. Very refreshing and I love the concept of how they place an actual piece of fruit inside! They come to around 3,900 won, or around CAD$4.

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I found these pastry looking items in a different stall and was curious to try them out. They remind me of the Japanese pastries.

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The outer shell is slightly crispy and the inside is filled with red bean paste. Not too sweet, and the dough itself is a little crumbly. Average, and nothing too special.

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Last but not least, we found these croquettes at Menagerie. They have different fillings, but we chose the Meat Croquette. The outside is deep fried and quite oily, but extremely crispy. To my surprise, the meat reminded me of the meat fillings inside Chinese buns! Not exactly what I had expected, but it was surprisingly really good.

Overall, you should definitely check out the food level at a Shinsegae in Seoul. You don’t neccessarily have to go to the one in Gangnam, since they are pretty much the same. Gangnam’s underground shopping was pretty good though. If you’re looking for cheap clothes, I would suggest checking it out. Other than that, we didn’t really know where else to go in Gangnam. We were told by a local friend that it’s much easier to get around by car in the Gangnam area and that there are plenty of cute cafes in the area.

Address: 176, Sinbanpo-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul

Gwangjang Market (광장시장) – Seoul

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I love the comfort of eating at a restaurant or cafe, but street food is honestly what it’s all about. The sanitary standards may not be up to par, but honestly, sometimes I find the best food out in the streets. After a day of shopping, we locked our goodies in the lockers at the metro stations (best invention), and off we went to Gwangjang Market. This market began in 1905 and has over 100 years of history! It’s one of Korea’s largest markets and is the oldest! You may have heard of Namdaemun and Dondgdaemun Market, which are famous for their wholesale and cheap prices, but many people aren’t aware of this hidden gem – Gwangjang Market! During the day, there are shops that sell everything from silks, clothing to kitchenware. However, by night, the food scene is the what’s bustling here! The front section is filled with packaged food and I was surprised to see many international items, including American chocolate and candy.

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As you walk in, it becomes many of the food stalls. A super simple set up with benches in front of the cooking area, you are literally sitting shoulder to shoulder here. You’ll find everyone eating here, from office people to tourists like myself.

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Apparently, there is a Jeon Alley, which I believe we hit. Jeon is basically any ingredient that is battered and pan fried in oil. It’s sort like a pancake dish. These are mostly vegetable jeons.

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Here, you’ll find everything from spicy race cake (tteokbokki), potato glass noodle (japchae), to blood sausages (sundae). The stalls are all operated by these older aged ladies or aunties (ajummas). They can be pretty fierce and demanding, but at the end of the day, they just want to be efficient and get the food to you.

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We ended up settling here, since we saw there was space to sit down! To be honest, most of the stalls serve the same things, so it didn’t seem any different.

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Gimbap

First, we got the famous Gimbap! Rice filled with simple vegetables and wrapped with seaweed. Our gimbaps were rather simple, with only pickled radish and carrots inside. It was brushed with sesame oil and sprinkled with white sesame. It came with a dipping sauce too, which wasn’t exactly soy sauce. I’m not sure what it was, but these gimbaps were super addicting with the sauce! I was sitting literally on the edge of the bench, almost falling off, but it was well worth it! There was a granny in front of me who was rolling these gimbaps, and she was super friendly even though she couldn’t speak any English. She ended up giving me a free roll that she had just wrapped! Super cute! I hear there is a Gimbap Alley nearby too….

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Bindaetteok
If you walk around the market, you will see this huge pancakes being sizzled in guzzling oil. I was determined to try them, and later learned that they were called Bindaetteok. They are mung bean pancakes which are fried in oil. The mung beans are first soaked and then turned into a batter by grinding them in between millstones. Pretty cool! Apparently, this market is the place to get the traditional mung bean pancakes. I have to say that they are quite oily, but at the same time, really delicious! Dip it into the dipping sauce which is made of rice vinegar, soy sauce and slices of onion, and you will be super addicted. These pancakes are also fairly cheap, but will get you very full. Crispy on the outside, and gooey inside!

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Yachae Twigim

We saw a bunch of colourful deep fried goodies in front of us, so we asked the diner next to us what they were since he knew a bit of English. Funny enough, he said he didn’t really know. He just knew they were deep fried and really delicious and couldn’t be bothered to know exactly what he was eating! Anyways, we got an order of it, and it came as an assortment. After some research, I learned that they were called Yachae Twigim. They’re basically deep fried vegetables. A lot of the ones we had were actually something similar to bean curd though. It had a chewy texture which was interesting but good! There was also something similar to deep fried kimchi, chives and imitation crab, zucchini, and peppers. Some were more spicy than the others, but I think it’s worth trying if you have others to share with. Probably something you can’t get in restaurants!

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That ended our meal at that stall, but walking around for a bit more, we decided to sit down at another. It’s like food stall hopping here! Ps. Look at that huge long black thing… It’s the Sundae, or Korean blood sausage… Yup, I’ve had it in Vancouver, but I wasn’t looking forward to having it again. Not my cup of tea!

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Tteokbokki

At this stall, we went for the Tteokbokki, also known as the spicy rice cake. These were rather fat pieces, but still very soft! I found this sauce to be quite spicy compared to the other ones I’ve had in Seoul. I love how they wrap their plates with plastic bags. So smart. Less cleaning for sure, and it’s also a great way to pack up your rice cakes in case you can’t finish.

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Eomukguk (Fish Cake Soup)

Next, we had the Eomukguk, which is essentially fish cake soup. Mmmm, I absolutely love this and could eat this every day! Apparently, people love to eat this with the spicy rice cake, since the broth is super warming after having the spicy rice cakes! The soup is made from anchovy stock and is extremely flavourful. I couldn’t help but finish all the stock! It also had seaweed in it which helped bring the seafood flavour. The fish cakes are soft and chewy. A must!

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Japchae

Last but not least, we had Japchae. Japchae is made from sweet potato noodles and is stir fried. It’s usually mixed with vegetables and other ingredients like beef. It’s stir fried with sesame oil and often topped with more sesame, so it’s very pungent in that flavour. Our japchae did not have any meat in it, nor any vegetables other than green onions. But holy, these were probably the best japchae I’ve had! The noodles were very thing and bouncy and were served lukewarm. So simple, but so delicious!

A must see if you like food and want to experience some traditional street food! However, be warned that when you visit in the summer, you will be drenched in street. When my hair is up, this means serious business. We were all sweaty by the end of our meal, but it was well worth it! Be sure to check out the Yukhoe Alley as well, which is a few alleys down. It has several restaurant serving up Yukhoe, the famous Korean steak tartare. Get off Jongno-5 and exit #9, and you will find Gwangjang Market!

Solid Works Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream – Seoul

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Korea is famous for starting trends, and their food scene is always full of crazy interesting new food. The newest trend is the liquid nitrogen ice cream. The ice cream tastes the same, but there’s cold air oozing out so it’s all mysterious looking. Plus, just by watching the making of this ice cream is an interesting show. Solid Works recently opened in June in Seoul, tucked away at the end of a street in the Ewha shopping district. We saw people walking out with super cool looking ice cream with syringes, and we couldn’t help but go take a look. A huge line up was formed in the tiny shop, and we literally waited a good 30 minutes for our ice cream.

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The concept is supposed to make it look like a laboratory. I believe Flask, which opened in Busan was the first to come up with the concept in Korea. Their atmosphere looks way more interesting, whereas at Solid Works, only one of the workers was wearing the lab coat. With Kitchen Aid cake mixers, they literally make your liquid nitrogen ice cream on the spot. Therefore, it takes quite a while, especially since they only have two workers.

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Mango Gelato

C got the Mango Gelato, and it was full of mango flavour. Very yummy! Love the cold air effect. I guess this place is really more for the pictures and cool experience seeing how it’s made.

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Ferrero Roche Gelato

K and I shared the Ferrero Roche Gelato. I personally like to eat fruit flavoured gelatos since it’s more refreshing, but the only one with the syringe in it was the ferrero roche or tiramisu. I can’t believe by the time we got to order, the tiramisu was sold out! Super disappointed! Anyways, our ferrero roche gelato also came with Simpson chocolate cookies and a chocolate pirouline. The syringe was filled with chocolate syrup which you can squirt on your ice cream. The ice cream was smooth and creamy and tasted just like any other ice cream. Plus, the price isn’t even bad. At around CAD$5 a cup, it’s not even bad considering how much gelato can be in Vancouver. Cool concept!

Address: 34-48 Daehyeon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

Bonjuk (Insadong) – Seoul

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Bonjuk is a chain restaurant that mainly sells Juk, which is a Korean rice porridge. Rice porridge used to only be eaten when you’re sick or if you’re a child due to its easy digestibility, but today, it is a dish that’s part of casual dining. We went to the one closest to our apartment, which was on the main tourist street of Insadong.

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Seafood Combination Porridge

The juk at Bonjuk come in sets. You choose your porridge, and it comes with a few side dishes and a small drink. On the very left was kimchi. Next, shreds of marinated beef which was super delicious! We added this to our porridge. The flavour of the beef is super addicting! Next to that is a bit of chili paste which you can add to your porridge to bring some spice to it. In front of that is a cold bowl of sweet and sour water with radish in it. The tea is also really good! It’s cold and sweet. I can’t really describe the flavour, but it reminded me of plum juice at Chinese hot pots. For myself, I chose the Seafood Combination Porridge. All porridge come topped with ground sesame and seaweed. I had shrimp, oysters, octopus in my porridge. Extremely delicious and they don’t skimp on the ingredients! The bowl is also huge, so we later realized we could’ve probably shared one between the two of us.

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Bulgogi Octopus Porridge

K got the Bulgogi Octopus Porridge. It looks quite similar to mine, except it has more of that bulgogi marinade flavour to it. She was extremely disappointed with the octopus though. It was way to tough and chewy! Probably not very easy to digest even after chewing. She ended up leaving most of the octopus in her bowl.

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Crab Meat Porridge

C got the Crab Meat Porridge, which again, looked just like the others. However, you’ll find imitation crab meat in the porridge.

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Octopus Kimchi Porridge

T got the Octopus Kimchi Porridge, which was the only one that looked slightly different. It came in a orange coloured broth. This is basically the spicy version of what K got. Again, her octopus were not tender and ended up being too chewy to eat. She loved the spice of the porridge though!

Overall, Bonjuk is a great place to try Korean rice porridge. It may not be the best, but the quality is always decent. And most of the menu items are under 10,000 won unless you choose the fancy ones that include abalone. Most of us couldn’t finish our whole bowl too. You can take out the rest and they provide you with microwavable containers. Definitely a very good deal, and service was quite good. Comfortable seats too!

Address: 155-9, Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Insadong Geujip (인사동그집) – Seoul

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After a day of exploring the Insadong area, we began to look for food. There’s so many restaurants on the main street and we came across Insadong Geujip. It had a huge line up, but surprisingly, when we asked for a table of 4, we were able to get a seat immediately. The restaurant is huge! He took us behind the kitchen and there were more rooms set up which gave you some privacy. The restaurant is in a traditional hanok house, so it’s pretty neat!

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First, we were presented with the complimentary appetizers. There was cold tofu with a spicy sauce, marinated radish, mayonnaise salad, kimchi, and seaweed soup. K’s favourite was the cold tofu as usual. It has no flavour on its own, but is delicious with some spicy sauce. My favourite was actually the marinated radish. I don’t normally like radish, but it was the spicy pickled flavour that I enjoyed. It also had a great crunch to it!

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Nakji Dolsop Bibimbap (bibimbap in a hot stone pot)

We decided to share three dishes between the four of us since we weren’t very hungry. First, we got the Nakji Dolsop Bibimbap. It was our first bibimbap in Korea, and it definitely didn’t disappoint us. Mixed with beansprouts, zuchhinis, cloud ear fungus, carrots and seaweed, it gave you a crunchy texture and bursts of flavours. Instead of the typical egg yolk that they normally use, there was octopus in it! Tiny baby tako which were marinated in a spicy sauce. Super tender and flavourful. We much preferred this bibimbap compared to the ones we just plain old veggies!

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Doenjang-jjigae (soybean paste stew)

Next, we had the Doenjang-jjigae, which is a soybean paste stew. It’s a bit different from the typical tofu soup, because you can really taste the soybean. It’s pretty much like miso soup with tofu in it. The soybean flavour was very rich and strong. A very small hint of spice as well, but I was addicted to this!

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Gungjung Tteokbokki (Royal Palace Rice Cake)

Last but not least, we had Gungjung Tteokbokki, which can be translated to the Royal Palace Rice Cake. We had plenty of spicy rice cake, so we decided to go for the non-spicy version. Filled with marinated bulgogi (beef), carrots, mushrooms, chestnuts and a sprinkle of sesame, it was absolutely delicious! The rice cakes were super soft but still remained the chewiness. The sauce was sweet and not overly salty. We definitely agreed this was our favourite dish!

I’d definitely recommend checking Insadong Geujip out if you’re in the Insadong area. Prices are fair and service was pretty quick. Best of all, the food is delicious!

Address: 3, Insadong 12-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Mok Hyang – Seoul

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In Seoul, we stayed at an airbnb apartment in the Insadong area. The Insadong district is a huge tourist spot due to the traditional arts and crafts you can find here. You’ll find things such as traditional clothing (hanbok), traditional paper (hanji), teas, folk crafts, and pottery. If you love culture and art, then this is the place for you. While walking down the main street, we came across Mok Hyang, which is a traditional dessert house. It’s located just behind the Ssamziegil complex.

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Mok Hyang prizes itself as Seoul’s only two-story traditional hanok house. The outside is definitely really cute with the wooden touches, but the inside is even more gorgeous! You must remove your shoes at the door and you will walk on wooden floors. The wooden tables are made from logs and are very low, hence you sit on the mats. There’s pottery as decor all over the area. Definitely a great place to have some tea and snacks and relax for a bit.

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Fruit Patbingsu

The downside about this spot is that each person must order one item, whether it’s a beverage or dessert. Hence, we got 5 different items to share. First, was the Fruit Patbingsu. Lots of red beans were piled atop the shaved ice. On top, there were bananas, watermelon, pineapple, and kiwi. Quite refreshing actually! It also had a piece of matcha sticky rice cake.

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Green Tea Patbingsu

The second patbingsu was the Green Tea Patbingsu. The ice had green tea flavouring already in it. It had a pile of red beans again and a few pieces of match sticky rice cake. We found that the green tea flavour was lacking. It wasn’t as strong as we would’ve liked it, so it tasted more like just red bean patbingsu.

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Surichi Injeolmi

Sticky rice cake is very popular in Korea. It’s a traditional sweet that they eat during festivities. Here, we have Surichi Injeolmi. Essentially sticky rice cake with matcha powder all over. To be honest, I like the Japanese mochis more. I find that the Korean sticky rice cakes to be too chewy and not as soft. It feels very tough when you chew on it. As well, the powder is not very sweet. Your mouth is just filled with powder when you eat it. Not my cup of tea.

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Seoyeojeungsik

Next, we chose Seoyeojeungsik, which are steamed hemp. It reminded me of baked bread dough. The dough itself is not very flavourful. It has a crispy texture on the outside, but very chewy inside, like it had some sort of sticky rice cake mixed within it. You then dip it into the honey to add a sweet flavour to it. We really enjoyed this! Something we all haven’t had  before!

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Ginger Sweets

Lastly, we had the Ginger Sweets, which are also known as Yugwa or Yumilgwa. They are traditional Korean confectionery and are a mixture of grain flour and honey. They are then deep fried and fried rice kernels are added on the outside. These were by far my favourite traditional Korean sweets. Super airy when you bite into it, but it still has a slight chew. A hint of ginger taste will linger in your mouth. We ended up buying some of these on the streets and shops in the Insadong area, but they definitely did not compare to the ones here. I highly recommend trying these!

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At Mok Hyang, they also provide women with silky napkins to place on your laps if you’re wearing skirts, dresses, or shorts. Very courteous and respectful in here. Pricing is average – not the cheapest, but you can’t expect much since it is a tourist area. I believe their teas are also very popular and they do have a wide selections of them. Great place to relax and get a taste of the Korean traditional culture!

Address: 32 Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 110-300

Myeongdong Yongyang Juk Yongyang Gyoza 明洞榮養粥、榮養餃子 – Seoul

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Our friend had a Seoul tour guide book she bought in Hong Kong, so we decided to put it to use and find a good restaurant. Off we went to Myeongdong Yongyang Juk Yongyang Gyoza, which is famous for their porridge and gyozas! It was only half empty when we first arrived, but it soon became packed with office people closer to lunch time. They speak a bit of Mandarin Chinese here, so if you know some, it’s pretty easy to communicate.

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Vegetable Gyozas

First, we shared their famous Vegetable Gyozas. One order gives you 8 of these plump dumplings. They are just steamed, so there’s no crispy texture that you may find when they are pan-fried. The wrappers were thin to medium and filled with mainly chives and other green veggies. The chives definitely made the dumplings very flavourful. You dip these into a gyoza sauce that has a little bit of acidity. Very good!

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Abalone Porridge

Next up, K and I shared their also very famous Abalone Porridge. In Korea, they call it “juk.” Whereas porridge we have in Canada is usually oatmeal, Korean porridge is usually cooked rice. This is very similar to Chinese porridge as well. Here, they also top it off with roasted ground seaweed and roasted sesame seeds. I should have probably put my spoon in to show the abalone as well. You actually get quite a few abalones in here! However, I found the abalone to be too tough and hard to chew. Would’ve liked it to be slightly softer. The porridge was very flavourful with a seafood taste to it. It also came with a side of roasted seaweed and seaweed salad. A little pricey, but definitely recommend trying an abalone porridge in Seoul!

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Seafood and Green Onion Pancake

Since we shared the porridge, K and I also added the Seafood and Green Onion Pancake. Again, this was just average, with the ones in Richmond, like Haroo being much better. This one had squid and shrimp, and they didn’t cheap out on the seafood. I found it funny that they don’t really cut up their green onions, but rather lay them diagonally so it completely fills the pancake. The pancake wasn’t as crispy as I would’ve liked it.

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Ginseng Chicken Soup

The other girls each got the Ginseng Chicken Soup. Ginseng is a super popular ingredient to use in Korean cooking, and they are famous for their Ginseng soups. The chicken is a whole chicken and was filled with rice. You should pull the rice out so that the rice is in the broth. Koreans love to eat rice in soup. Yummy!

Overall, I was very satisfied with the food here. A great place to try Korean gyozas and porridge. Average prices and you will get full! They also come with complimentary side dishes like kimchi, which you can serve yourself.

Address: 199-58 Euljiro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea