The article courtesy of Seoul magazine
- Hadongkwan 하동관
One of the most famous places for gomtang, this place has been around for 70 years. Many say that their quality has been maintained because the head chef stood by the pots for over 40 years, coaxing the flavor out of the top quality Korean beef to make their incredible broth. They use top quality rice in the broth and it is served with, according to Koreans, the best turnip kimchi in the country.
Hadongkwan 하동관 → Myeongdong area
FYI T. 02-776-5656
Price: KRW 10,000 a person
- Andongjang 안동장
Korean Chinese food is pretty universal now, but it was Andongjang that set the standard when they started back in 1948. They have hand-pulled noodle soup in their own spicy oyster broth (guljjamppong). The crisp fried pork (tangsuyok) is served in a balanced sweet-and-sour sauce. Their black noodles (jjajamyeon) are sublime and it is nice to be in one of Korea’s restaurant relics.
Andongjang 안동장 → Euljiro 3-ga Station area
FYI T. 02-2266-3814
Price: KRW 8,000
Go Euljiro 3-ga Station 을지로 3가역 (Lines 2&3), Exit 10.
- Wooraeok 우래옥
This historic restaurant has been around since 1946. They are famous for their North Korean-style, pyeongyang naengmyeon (cold noodles). They also have a famous beef bone soup (galbitang). The restaurant is famous for their barbecue as well. If you tell Koreans that you are going to Wooraeok for dinner, they'll think you’re off to a special occasion such as an engagement or birthday.
Wooraeok 우래옥 → Euljiro 4- ga area
FYI T. 02-2265-0151
Price: KRW 11,000
Go Euljiro4-ga Station 을지로4가역 (Line 2&5), Exit 4.
- Taegukdang Monaka Ice-Cream 태극당
This historic bakery has been bringing ice cream to the masses since 1946. Their ice cream sandwich is a cookie wafer wrapped around subtle, milky ice cream that has a hint of vanilla. It is very different from the thick and creamy ice cream we are used to now. They also have excellent patbingsu and a wide range of baked breads, cookies and cakes. This place looks and tastes like the good old days.
Taegukdang Monaka Ice-Cream 태극당 → Dongguk Univ. Station
FYI T. 02-2279-3152
Hours: 10 am—10 pm
Go Dongguk Univ. Station 동대입구역 (Line 3), Exit 2.
- DesserTree 디저트리
DesserTree just off Apgujeong Rodeo Street offers gastronomic desserts made from scratch. Chef Hyeon-hee Lee and her team create desserts that are artistic, creative and full of surprises. Her Genoise Apple is a mini-apple topped with caramel on an apple crumble cake. Mini-apples in Korea tend to be tart, but here they are topped with caramel and inside the apple is a caramel butter filling. The apple crumble cake pairs well with the citron ice cream with an apple and the chocolate branch is a nice touch. The entire ensemble seems like a scene out of Snow White. Their profiteroles with homemade ice cream are sophisticated and fun. The ice cream selection changes depending on the chef's whims. On the day I visited, I got a buttery white chocolate, a dark chocolate and an unexpected salted caramel. DesserTree proves that dessert can be the main course and not just an afterthought.
→ Apgujeong Rodeo Station area
FYI T. 02-518-3852
Hours: 11 am—9 pm
Go Apgujeong Rodeo Station 압구정역(Bundang Line), Exit 5. 10 minutes walk.
- Sunrich Cheese Café 썬리치 치즈 카페
Sunrich is one of the top cheese companies in Korea and they import and produce much of the local cheese. The CEO opened his first cheese café in the Daechi district of Seoul and has now expanded to Chungdam. The cafes showcase the different products the company makes and the various ways to use them. You can get a bagel topped with different cream cheeses such as smoked salmon, blueberry, yogurt and citron. They have fondue, an amazing camembert cheese cake and a mascarpone tiramisu. There is also a wide range of sandwiches, pastries, danishes and more—all with lots of cheese.
→ Apgujeong area
FYI T. 02-548-8559
Go Apgujeong Rodeo Station 압구정역 (Bundang Line), Exit 5. Walk down to Hakdong Intersection and take a right. You’ll see it on your left.
While Insa-dong’s main drag might be wall-to-wall with tourists, Insa-dong’s alleyways still possess a bit of old-school magic. Well, at least they do for now—although with redevelopment scheduled, nobody knows for how much longer. It’s also a great place to drink; hidden in the back streets are a couple of great makgeolli joints where you and your friends can make merry amidst agreeably rustic charm.
Makgeolli: A milky rice "beer," makgeolli was once a peasant drink, but is now one Korea's most popular drinks.
- Dal-ui Dwipyeon 달의뒤편
Hidden in the dilapidated maze behind the landmark YMCA building is Dal-ui Dwipyeon (“Backside of the Moon”), a traditional pub in a pleasantly atmospheric hanok. You’ll find a range of makgeolli types here—if you’re unsure of what to order, you can never go wrong with dongdongju. The kitchen serves the full range of Korean pub grub, including fried pancakes and meat balls, soups and stews. In warmer months, the inner courtyard makes a great place to drink.
- Pureunbyeol Jumak 푸른별주막별주
At the other end of Insa-dong, in a very narrow alley just behind Jongno Police Station, is Pureunbyeol Jumak (“Blue Star Pub”), a small but popular establishment run by music actor and traveler Choi Il-sun. Exuding charm, this place serves some unusual kinds of makgeolli. For something a bit different, give the bongip (mulberry leaf) makgeolli a try. For food, go with the dubu kimchi (tofu and kimchi): You won’t be sorry.
- Towoo 토우
Also hidden behind the YMCA is Towoo, a cozy place with all-wood traditional decor that promotes a warm, friendly drinking environment. Adding warmth is a clay fireplace where they’ll roast sweet potatoes for you on request. If you’re a traditionalist, go with the dongdongju and pajeon. If you’d prefer something else to go with your booze, though, the sogogi tteok jeongol (beef and rice-cake stew) will be sure to please. There are live music performances, too.
- Nurook Tree 누룩나무
Just a few houses down from Pureunbyeol Jumak, this newer Insa-dong drinking establishment is run by a woman with an idea to design. The renovated hanok with exposed concrete walls harmonizes traditional charm and urban grit. There's a small, glass-encased artificial garden with an open roof that links the space to the outside. You'll find makgeolli brands from all over the country as well as a wide variety of other regional firewaters. The food menu is extensive, too.
The article courtesy of Seoul magazine