A while ago I wrote about the amazing experience I had at the incredible Blue Ketchup club in Seoul. But the truth is that there is so much more that South Korea has to offer when it comes to cuisine and not only.
Going for famous, highly rated restaurants is a given when you visit a new country. But the real hidden gems are those where locals eat. They offer a genuine eating experience and usually the prices are much lower than those aimed at tourists.
And today I am going to share with you my eating experience in Myeongdong: the fashion district of Seoul. My AirBnb host recommended this local restaurant and I am extremely happy that I followed her advice and went there. The food is absolutely delicious and the atmosphere there is simply amazing. Without doubt, its exquisite cuisine is one of the best traditional meals I’ve had in Seoul.
And you know you’re in a great place when you see the menu engraved masterfully on wooden paddles:
To my delight, my partner and I were served a very generous spread of banchan, traditional side dishes. Each dish was dainty, allowing us to sample a variety of flavors. Nothing beats a table full of samplers as it was ours (see the top image). Or a small part of it below:
These little fellows – dried baby sardines seasoned with garlic, ginger, and chili pepper paste – were absolutely amazing. This is crispy and mealy with a hint of spicy sweetness that you fall in love with instantly.
Another highlight was the doenjang jjigae, soybean paste soup with tofu and veggies. It likens to a richer and more pungent version of miso soup.
For our main course, we had bulgogi stew and spicy squid. I was feeling full already, but these were amazing and I immediately found some extra room. The squid was particularly delicious!
The spicy squid was very flavorful and incredibly tender. I ate more than I should’ve, but it was well worth it. Absolutely amazing!
I wasn’t extremely pleased with the bulgogi stew. Bulgogi is marinated grilled beef. It is most popular barbecued, but can also be cooked into a mouthwatering stew. The juicy, tender beef is marinated in sesame oil, soy sauce, and sugar, then stewed with carrot and onion. Soaked in its own juices, the sweet and savory beef is excellent with white rice… but when you have such amazing options available, it’s not as impressive.
Unfortunately, there’s a big problem for those who would like to visit it: I forgot the place’s name! I was sure that I took a photo outside of the restaurant, but apparently I haven’t. I know that it was near the Myeongdong Station, but that doesn’t help much unfortunately, especially since it was a bit out of the tourist’s way.
I sent a message to my AirBnb host and hopefully she will be kind enough to tell me the restaurant’s name. I will update the article and let you know if that happens. If not, at least you know that even the traditional and non-touristy places in Seoul can offer some amazing food, sometimes even better than than the ones everybody’s talking about.