Youthful exuberance and passion abound in Hongdae with its restaurants and cafés in the area matching that ambiance. With a target audience of students and young travelers, the prices are affordable and the interior designs have a touch of sensibility and sophistication. Perhaps the best part of dining in Hongdae is that the options are endless! From Thai to Western to Chinese, you can find any style of food you want. With so many restaurants, it can be hard to pick a place to eat, and a wrong pick can leave you feeling disappointed. To avoid that situation, the Korea Tourism Organization has created a list of the 10 best restaurants in Hongdae, based on the results from a popular Korean mobile dining application.
A bakery by day, selling all kinds of delicious goods made by the Japanese owner, Aoi Tori transforms into a bar at night, serving up pasta and alcoholic beverages. Among the many tasty Japanese-style breads, the most popular are yakisoba bread and matcha melon bread. Yakisoba delivers the strong taste of thinly sliced red ginger root, while matcha melon bread has a crisp covering with a creamy smooth matcha filling.
I am A Burger is a handmade burger shop that became quite famous after appearing on the tvN broadcast program “Wednesday Food Talk.” I am A Burger is unique in that customers can build their own burgers by choosing from three types of buns and the size of patty for the perfect burger. The most popular order is the double American cheese burger, blending the tastes of a juicy beef patty with American cheese and grilled onions. All orders can be upgraded to a combo, coming with a side of French fries and a drink for 5,500 won extra.
Tailor Coffee is a specialty coffee shop well-known among the coffee mania circuit. The house-roasted beans deliver a delicious, caffeine-packed beverage perfect for aficionados. Their most popular coffees are their einspanner and cream mocha, reminiscent of Vienna coffee. Cream mocha offers up the smooth taste of a strong latte topped with fresh cream. Einspanner has a stronger taste, blending the sweetness of fresh cream with the bitter flavor of an Americano.
Ttobogetji Tteokbokki is a popular tabletop tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) restaurant chain in Hongdae, often shortened to “Ttotteok.” Ordering is easy at Ttotteok; just tell the staff the number of servings your group needs, and tteok (rice cakes), egg, eomuk (fish cakes), and three types of vegetables will be served to your table. There are plenty of add-ins you can order such as gamja sujebi (hand-pulled potato dough) or bacon, but the most recommended extra is a side of butter garlic fried potato. The spicy seasoning of tteokbokki is tempered by the smooth buttery potatoes, so even people unable to handle spicy foods can enjoy tteokbokki in Korea.
Sobok is an ice cream brand that focuses on nature. The main branch in Hongdae is rather small, with most customers ordering take-out. The all-white interior will draw the eye, and goes perfectly with the all-natural ice creams. Sobok's ice creams are made from rice and grains without the use of synthetic compounds. Their most popular menu items are Injeolmi Ice Ball and the original Sobok Ice Cream, garnished with sticky rice cake, sweet pumpkin, and a fresh flower.
Samonim Dongaseu appeared on the segment about dongaseu (pork cutlet) on tvN’s broadcast program “Wednesday Food Talk.” The restaurant’s secretive location deep within an alleyway can’t keep the fans away! Even on weekdays, visitors have to put their names on the waitlist if they want to eat here. The reason this specific restaurant is so popular lies in the dongaseu itself, with its meat being thicker than other restaurants. Each meal comes complete with a fresh salad and buttered potato. The serving size is enough that full-grown men will not leave hungry.
Entering Mum Aroy will feel like traveling directly to Thailand. With a name meaning “the end of deliciousness,” Mum Aroy serves traditional Thai cuisine. Visitors can choose from a variety of popular Thai dishes, from tom yum goong to pad thai to Mum Aroy’s signature dish, tod mun goong. While all their dishes are excellent, we strongly recommend pad thai! Compared with other Thai restaurants, the noodles are much thinner with seasonings coated evenly throughout. The use of juicy seafood and fresh vegetables completes the dish!
Masichaina is operated by a chef who previously worked at luxury hotel The Shilla Seoul’s Chinese restaurant Palsun. The name of the restaurant literally asks “can you taste the difference?” The entire restaurant has an outstanding atmosphere and the open-kitchen design increases customers' trust by allowing guests to watch the cooks at work. All the dishes are delicious but we highly recommend gongbutangmyeon, Masichaina’s baekjjamppong (seafood noodle soup in white broth). Gongbutangmyeon is made with a chicken broth base that has been boiled for over five hours to bring out a strong flavor. Vegetables and seafood are then added to the broth for a flavorful, non-spicy version of the well-loved classic jjamppong.
When talking about dessert cafés in Hongdae, you can’t fail to mention Mobssie. The delicious cheesecakes baked upon order are their specialty. The top layer of cake is firm, while the inside is smooth like pudding! The taste is quite rich and goes perfectly with a cup of coffee.
Yoonssi Milbang serves food made with wheat, due to the love of the chef for all things wheat! Originally serving just mandu (dumplings), the restaurant became famous after introducing Hamburg steak to the menu. The restaurant is located in a non-commercial building, and their most popular menu items are the Yoonssi Hamburg steak set menu and the mushroom Toowoomba pasta. The steak is soft and the pasta gets a kick of heat from the spicy cream sauce. More than anything though, the biggest draw to Yoonssi Milbang is that all menus are priced at under 10,000 won!
There are many great places to eat in Hongdae and one we just couldn’t leave out is Oksang Dalbit, a unique fried chicken restaurant. There are two branches just in the Hongdae area, both serving their representative menu of garlic pepper chicken. Regular fried chicken is smothered in a seasoning of garlic and red chili peppers, sprinkled with vodka, and then lit on fire for a 15-second fire show. The short fire gives the chicken a smoky flavor that continues to draw customers back time after time.
* This column was last updated in March 2018, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check the details before visiting.