Diving into South Korea&x27s greatest hole-in-the-wall eating places – Lonely Planet – Lonely Planet


Quieted away, across the nook from one in all South Korea’s grandest accommodations is a good meals secret: Gwanghwamun Jip. Its worn-out blue signal provides away the restaurant’s lengthy historical past, and with one spicy spoonful of the signature kimchi stew, it’s clear why droves of locals queue up right here at lunchtime.

South Korea’s cities are filled with fantastic hole-in-the-wall eating places secreted off down again streets. Too typically, these are missed by guests, although they characterize a few of the nation’s greatest and most genuine consuming. Many are run by households (fairly often, grannies) that lived by means of Korea’s tumultuous twentieth century. They cater to native tastes, don’t make changes to their dishes and aren’t afraid to demand money. Although service would possibly really feel a bit gruff, when you flash a smile and try at a couple of phrases in Korean, you’ll probably end up showered with sudden heat.

A lot of South Korea’s mother ‘n’ pop eating places pleasure themselves on two or three star dishes and actually excellent them. It helps to know what to order earlier than you set foot inside: soups equivalent to gamja-tang (pork again stew) and seolleongtang (ox-bone soup), and noodles like naengmyun (iced noodles) or kalguksu (knife noodles) are the commonest choices.

Figuring out these dive eating places will be tough, and a worn inside isn’t every little thing. The perfect often have strains out the door at lunch, fading wallpaper and some framed newspaper clippings of a political determine or superstar consuming there.

We’ve chosen our favorite South Korean hole-in-the-wall eating places, the place – behind an unassuming door – you’ll be able to refill on beneficiant parts of conventional meals served with a splash of no-nonsense Korean tradition.

Gwanghwamun Jip

Gwanghwamun Jip initially opened as an octopus stir-fry and doenjang-stew (soy-bean paste stew) restaurant in 1950, when the classic blue signal was initially put up. In 1980, it was redeveloped into one in all Seoul’s most enduring kimchi-stew eating places. The three women (now of their 70s) who personal and function the joint put together roughly 2000 heads of kimchi yearly. Not solely is their stew an ideal steadiness of fatty pork and ripened kimchi, it’s freed from all of the MSG that another stew eating places lather on. For an additional ₩5000, pair the spicy soup with a mild-but-delicious steamed egg roll. Desk seating is out there on the primary stage, however when doable, climb up the slim stairs of demise and take a look at the Korean-style heated-floor seating on the second stage.

12 Saemunan-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul


After migrating south throughout the Korean Struggle, Kim In-joo opened Eulmildae in 1971 and named it after a pavilion close to her former dwelling in Pyongyang. The restaurant is most well-known for its North Korean-style naengmyun (iced noodles) cooked three other ways: mul (in chilled broth), bibim (with thick spicy sauce) and hoe (with uncooked fish). The star dish is, by far, the mul-naengmyun – skinny, chewy noodles and a barely bitter cool broth are a should on summer season days. Up to now few years, Eulmildae has franchised, including a handful of places round Seoul. Nevertheless, any naengmyun-lover will let you know that the unique location in Mapo remains to be the most effective. Actual execs will advise you to ask for the mul-naengmyun with out ice (eol-eum bbae-ju-se-yo), as it is the freshest model.

24, Soongmun-gil Mapo-gu, Seoul

Kangsan Myeonok

Kangsan Myeonok within the metropolis of Daegu dates again to 1951, when the founding household left North Korea throughout the struggle and began cooking recipes paying homage to their dwelling. Its present location, on the second flooring of an outdated procuring plaza, opened in 1958. The restaurant is understood for its Pyeongang-style naengmyeon (iced noodles), however the actual winner is the galbi-jjim (braised beef quick ribs). The delicate, tender meat forks aside simply and the candy marinade could have you licking the stone pot clear.

27-8 Gyodong-gil, Jung-gu, Daegu


The unassuming wooden-door exterior of Hadongkwan can appear intimidating for a lot of a traveller, however enterprise in for a deal with. The restaurant solely serves two dishes: suyuk (boiled beef) and gomtang (beef-bone soup). The soup is available in two sizes, common and enormous, and will be kicked up with a facet of their garlicky kimchi. Followers of Hadongkwan swear that the depth of the broth and the tenderness of the meat are incomparable to another gomtang restaurant in South Korea. In truth, hearsay has it that former President Park Chung-hee was so obsessive about the restaurant that he ordered 30 bowls of the specialty soup whereas on a enterprise journey to Jeju-do.

12 Myeongdong 9-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul

Ddoongbo Jip

Positioned on Busan’s well-known jjukumi (webfoot octopus) avenue, the title of this restaurant – opened in 1982 – actually means ‘Fatty’s Home’. Crowds of individuals line up for the spicy, leggy delicacy at Ddoongbo Jip in cussed confidence of the venue’s superiority over its opponents alongside the road. Jjukumi right here is grilled over charcoal proper beside the doorway, and every beneficiant portion is served with a basket of greens, soybean curd and a soup of the day. For these much less inclined to munch on cephalopod, the bossam (pork stomach) wrapped in kimchi and the rokbin (deep-fried shrimp pancakes) are in equally excessive demand. Some would possibly even argue that the bossam is the actual dish to attempt.

3 Jungang-daero 41beon-gil, Jung-gu, Busan

Golmok Bunshik

Presumably probably the most off-the-beaten-track place on this listing, Golmok Bunshik is situated in a half-basement on Yeongdo in Busan. Run by an aged couple, the 30-year-old restaurant serves numerous varieties of ramyeon (Korean immediate noodles) and retains a group of a dozen or so classic comedian books. Their most well-known bibim-myeon is made by boiling the noodles, including a signature spicy sauce and sprinkling sesame and cucumber seeds on prime. For a hotter possibility, attempt the ₩1500 unique noodles. Though it’s actually simply ramyeon out of the package deal, the consistency of the noodles will make you’re feeling as when you’re consuming immediate noodles for the primary time.

12 Jungnibunk-ro 22beon-gil, Yeongdo-gu, Busan

Dongwon Jip

Even on the coldest winter nights, you’ll see a line outdoors Dongwon Jip in Euljiro3ga. Opened in 1987, the restaurant is most well-known for its gamja-guk (pork-back soup) and soondae-guk (blood sausage stew). Proprietor Yoon Quickly-young credit the restaurant’s consistency over time for its recognition. The gamja-guk broth is cooked in a single day in a big, haphazard stone pot close to the doorway and the meat is tenderised for 3 hours earlier than being served. Louder and rowdier than related hole-in-the-wall institutions, Dongwon Jip serves soju (Korean distilled spirit) and beer along with meals, and is usually affectionately referred to as a ‘scrumptious bar’.

22 Eulji-ro 11-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul

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