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

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