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Gwangju Food Alley Tour; the city full of flavors!


Photo: Moist and rich-flavored charcoal-grilled tteok-galbi (grilled short rib patties)

Gwangju Food Alley Tour; the city full of flavors!

Located in southwestern Korea, Gwangju is known as a city packed with various tastes, representing the old food traditions of Korea. The city especially offers a wide range of dishes, using crops harvested from the Honam Plains, seafood from nearby coasts and various vegetables. Thanks to this diverse use of ingredients, restaurants in Gwangju generally provide more side dishes than in other regions. In this article we will focus on some of Gwangju's local specialties, including bori-bap (barley rice) served with a variety of greens, the well-known tteok-galbi, and last but not least, fried foods wrapped in lettuce.

Mudeungsan Mountain Bori-bap Alley

Next to Gwangju's Shin Yang Park Hotel is Mudeungsan Mountain Bori-bap (barley rice) Alley, filled with restaurants serving up some of the best bori-bap dishes in Korea. In the past, bori-bap was eaten during financially difficult times, but these days, it is a favored dish of those trying to eat healthier.

Restaurants in this area generally serve two types of bori-bap dishes: one uses only barley rice and the other uses half barley rice and half white rice. When the bori-bap dish comes out, it is accompanied with about ten side dishes, doenjang (soybean paste) soup and various seasonal vegetables. Make sure to mix the vegetables, side dishes, sesame oil and gochu-jang (red chili paste) sauce with the bori-bap to your own personal taste for the best flavor. Also, try out the scorched-rice water after you finish eating for a good post-meal flavor. The dishes are normally priced at 6,000 to 8,000 per serving for a generous amount at any one of the approximately 20 bori-bap businesses currently operating in Mudeungsan Mountain Bori-bap Alley.
How to get there

☞ Address: 81, Jisan 2-dong, Dong-gu, Gwangju
☞ Public transportation (by bus):
From Gwangju Bus Terminal (U-Square), walk for about 15 minutes to arrive at Nongseong Station (Gwangju Subway Line 1).
Take the subway and get off at Geumnamno 5-ga Station (Gwangju Subway Line 1), Exit 3.
Take local bus no. 81 (Duam bus) and get off at Jisan Recreational Park Bus Stop (total travel time: approx. 50 minutes).
☞ Public transportation (by train): Take local bus no. 81 (Duam bus) from Gwangju Station Bus Stop and get off at Jisan Recreational Park Bus Stop (total travel time: approx. 40 minutes).
☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

Songjeong Tteok-galbi Alley

In the past, Songjeong tteok-galbi was known as a nutritious dish that people ate at traditional markets. However, it is now a famous local food of Gwangju. Tteok-galbi (grilled short rib patties) is a hand-formed patty with a one-to-one ratio of minced pork and beef mixed with pears, green plums, onions, and medicinal herbs. After a day in the fridge to set, it is cooked over charcoal while evenly coating it in a special marinade.

It tastes great eaten plain or wrapped in lettuce with rice and side dishes. When you order tteok-galbi from restaurants in the Songjeong Tteok-galbi Alley, the main dish is usually accompanied by a soup that is prepared by slow cooking pork bones in a broth with seaweed, radish, green onions and more. A tteok-galbi meal costs around 15,000 won per person, and there are approximately 14 tteok-galbi restaurants in the alley.
How to get there

☞ Address: 830-6, Songjeong 2-dong, Gwangsan-gu, Gwangju (vicinity of Gwangju-Songjeong Station)
☞ Public transportation (by bus):
From Gwangju Bus Terminal (U-Square), walk for about 15 minutes to arrive at Nongseong Station (Gwangju Subway Line 1).
Take the subway and get off at Gwangju-Songjeong Station (Gwangju Subway Line 1), Exit 1 (8 stations away, total travel time: approx. 40 minutes).
☞ Public transportation (by train):
Take a local bus no. 72 from Gwangju Station and travel for about 20 minutes.
Get off at Dolgogae Station and transfer to the subway to arrive at Gwangju-Songjeong Station (Gwangju Subway Line 1), Exit 1 (total travel time: approx. 50 minutes).
☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
 

Fried Food Lettuce Wraps

Eating fried food with lettuce is said to have begun in Gwangju when a merchant ate fried food with lettuce because of a lack of rice in the 1970s. Thereafter, this dish was a favorite of students looking for filling snacks, but is now eaten by just about everyone.

Some of the most favored fried dishes to wrap in fresh lettuce include squid, mandu (dumplings) and sweet potatoes, among the many other choices. The fried fare tastes even better when mixed with onions and Cheongnyang red peppers marinated in soy sauce. The dish is served along with fish cake broth and pickled radish. It is quite affordable at just around 3,000 won per person. The main location to taste these fried goods is near Chungjangno Street, where many street food stalls and vendors can be found.  

Cheongwon Momil, Gwangju's Most Famous Restaurant

Located on Chungjang-ro Street in Gwangju, Cheongwon Momil has been a staple of Gwangju's dining scene since it opened in 1960. The two most popular styles of momil (buckwheat noodles) served at the restaurant are momil in a warm broth and dried momil, which comes with a dipping sauce for the noodles. The restaurant provides only two side dishes, kkakdugi (diced radish kimchi) and pickled radishes, but they are expertly prepared and the flavors blend well with the momil.

The momil broth, which is the most important factor influencing each dish's taste, is slow cooked with anchovies and vegetables over a long period of time. For its flavor and tradition, Cheongwon Momil comes recommended by the Michelin Guide, so make sure to stop by to sample some of the best momil in Korea.
Traveler’s Tips

☞ Transportation (Seoul to Gwangju)
*For trains: Korail www.letskorail.com (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)  
*For buses: Kobus (Korean, English)
☞ Website 
Gwangju Tourism Service utour.gwangju.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Related column
Gwangju, a city of arts and culture
☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Date 01/20/2015



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