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[Gourmet Restaurants Series 7] Itaewon : Delightful Tastes from Around the World


Itaewon is like a foreign country within Korea, where various cultures coexist. Shops that sell extra large-sized clothing line the streets, and at night, the nightclubs and bars are crowded with international clientele. Another element that attracts an international crowd is the restaurants. It would not be an exaggeration to say that restaurants offering menus from across the globe have gathered in Itaewon. People who visit the area are overjoyed with the chance to try traditional foods from various countries, which are usually prepared authentically by chefs of those countries.

“Thai Garden” – Authentic Traditional Thai Cuisine

Among the many Thai restaurants in Itaewon, you’ll experience the most authentic Thai cuisine here. Run by the Baiyoke Hotel of Thailand, the mouth-watering food and wonderful service bring customers back often. Most of the cooks and employees have come from Thailand to work here.
A typical Thai dish is tom yam kung (spicy shrimp soup). Various spices are added to give this dish its remarkably unique flavor. People who have tried the cuisine for the first time might need some time to get accustomed to the taste, but once they do, they’ll want more. Delicately spiced noodles, which are sautéed with various vegetables as well as beef or chicken, go well with tom yam kung.
TIP- Since the restaurant is managed by Itaewon Hotel, there is a surtax of 10% and a service fee of 10% which are added to the bill.

< Detailed information >
☞ Business hours: 11:30~22:00
☞ Open year-round
☞ Phone: (02) 792-8836
☞ Menu: Tom yam kung: 15,000 won; Pad thai gai: 10,000 won; Dinner set menu: 35,000 won per one (Without tax)
☞ How to get there: Take subway line 6 and get off at Itaewon. Go out of exit 2 and walk straight ahead for about 300 meters. The restaurant is located on the third floor of the building next to the Itaewon Hotel. There is a sign in English, which says “Thai Garden.”

“Pancho’s” – Famous for Mexican Cuisine

Opened in 1997, this Mexican restaurant offers American-style Mexican food. Popular on the menu are quesadillas and tacos that are prepared by a cook from South America. Pan-fried beef and vegetables are wrapped in a tortilla, and an abundant amount of cheese is added to enhance the delicately flavored quesadilla. A taco is similar to a quesadilla except for the seasoning. Customers can choose between chicken and beef.
Pancho’s attracts various clientele depending on the time of day. Lunch customers usually enjoy light meals, while evening customers order meals as well as alcoholic beverages. Popular drinks include Mexican beer, tequilas, and margaritas. Guests also enjoy dancing and playing pool.
TIP-On Tuesdays, free tacos are provided with Mexican beer. On Thursdays, female customers receive a free alcoholic beverage (restaurant’s selection).

< Detailed information >
☞ Business hours: 11:00am~1:00 am
☞ Open year-round
☞ Phone: (02) 792-4767
☞ Menu: Quesadilla: 14,000 won; Nachos: 12,000 won; Beef Tacos: 11,000 won
☞ How to get there: Take Seoul subway line 6 to Itaewon. Go out of exit 3 and walk straight ahead for about 30 meters. The restaurant is located on the right on the second floor. A sign in English reads “Pancho’s.”

“Cheongsachorong” – Enjoy Hanjeongsik while watching a traditional Korean performance

Since its establishment in 1989, the restaurant has offered a wide variety of hanjeongsik (traditional full-course Korean meal) mainly to foreign customers.
The price of hanjeongsik depends on the types and number of dishes included. The most affordable menu is gohyang jeongsik, which includes bulgogi (grilled beef), japchae (special noodles, mixed vegetables and sliced meat), jeon (assorted pan-fried delicacies), and fish, along with various side dishes and stews. Every dish is delicious, but the bulgogi is especially mouth-watering. If you want to try the royal cuisine that appeared on the famous Korean TV drama “Daejanggeum,” order daejanggeum gungjung hanjeongsik, which includes various dishes served to the upper class, including gujeolpan (assorted food on nine dish platters) and sinseollo (pine mushrooms in a chafing dish).
The restaurant is also popular for breakfast. For just 6,000~7,000 won only, you can enjoy miyeokguk (seaweed soup), fish, and bulgogi, in addition to eight side dishes. Breakfast is served between 6 to 9 am.
TIP-A 30-minute royal court dance performance is staged every evening at 7 pm. Enjoy the performance while having your meal!

< Detailed information >
☞ Business hours: 06:00~23:00
☞ Open year-round
☞ Phone: (02) 794-1177
☞ Menu: gohyang jeongsik: 12,000 won; daejanggeum gungjung hanjeongsik: 50,000 won; yeongyang dolsot jeongsik (rice served in a hot stone pot with side dishes): 12,000 won
☞ How to get there: Take subway line 6 and get off at Itaewon. Go out of exit 2. Once you are out of the subway station, go straight for about 400 meters. You will pass the Itaewon Hotel. A traditional Korean building is located on the left.

“La Tavola” – Where pizza is just irresistible!

This Itaewon restaurant is famous for its exquisite pizza. While a wide range of Italian dishes is available, pizza is by far the most popular. Pizzas here are unique in that they are baked according to Italian tradition in a wood-fired oven, which is the secret of the thin, mouth-watering crust. There are numerous pizzas to choose from, including Diavola, made of hot sausage and mozzarella cheese, and Napolitana, made of capers, anchovies, and mozzarella cheese. In addition to pizza, many customers enjoy the pasta and vongole spaghetti. Dinner customers like to choose one of the many types of wine on hand to enjoy with their meals.
TIP-While the restaurant is famous for pizza, it is more upscale than the usual pizza places. Service is also excellent.

< Detailed information >
☞ Business hours: 12:00~15:00 (Lunch)
& 17:30~22:00 (Dinner)
(12:00~23:00 on Fridays and Saturdays)
☞ Open year-round
☞ Phone: (02) 793-6144
☞ Menu: margherita: 15,000 won; diavola: 18,000 won; napolitana: 18,000 won
☞ How to get there: Take subway line 6, and get off at Itaewon. Go out of exit 2. Once you are out of the subway station, go straight for around 30 meters, and you will see the restaurant on your left. It is on the second floor of the building with the restaurant “La Cigale Montmartre.” There is a sign in English - “La Tavola.”

“Ho Lee Chow” – Ample servings of delicious Chinese food

Opened in May 2002, this spacious, 120-table restaurant is much like family restaurants in the U.S. Customers are attracted to the clean interior and excellent service.
At Ho Lee Chow, you can now enjoy various Chinese dishes that were once only available in Chinatown. There is a wide variety: main dishes, such as stir-fried noodles, stir-fried seafood, and fried rice, as well as dim sum. Most are quickly cooked in a Chinese pan called a wok. Be careful not to order too much food. If you order as many dishes as the number of people in your group, you probably won’t finish it. For three people, two dishes should be enough.
TIP-Lunch prices are more affordable (11:30~15:00).

< Detailed information >
☞ Business hours: 11:30~22:30
☞ Open year-round
☞ Phone: (02) 793-0802
☞ Menu: Shanghai style noodles: 13,900 won; shrimp fried rice: 13,900 won; lemon chicken: 13,900 won; Lunch set 39,000-40,000 won
☞ How to get there: Take subway line 6 and get off at Itaewon. Go out of exit 1 or 2. You’ll see the Hamilton Hotel between exit no. 1 and 2. Enter the hotel and take the elevator up to the restaurant on the second floor. Or go behind the Hamilton Hotel, where you will see the front entrance to the restaurant.

“La Cigale Montmartre” – Where outdoor tables provide a romantic ambience

Just like a restaurant in France, the indoor as well as outdoor tables create a sense of romance. The scenic beauty of Montmartre decorates one of the walls near the outdoor tables.
Restaurant specialties are from the Mediterranean seacoast. Mussels from Belgium, located near France, are a treat. The mussels in cream sauce are extremely tender and savory. The most popular is the Brussels mussel dish, made of cream sauce, chopped onions, and parsley. The correct way to enjoy the fries that come with any mussel dish is to dip them in the sauce. Wine is also recommended with mussel or fish cuisine, with around 40 different types of wine available. Ask an employee to help you choose a wine that goes with your meal.

< Detailed information >
☞ Business hours: 12:00p.m~02:00a.m
☞ Closed: New Year’s Day and Chuseok
☞ Phone: (02) 796-1244
☞ Menu: Brussels mussel dish: 14,000 won; Snails with garlic butter: 18,000 won;
Wellington beef tendering: 40,000 won
☞ How to get there: Take subway line 6 and get off at Itaewon. Go out of exit 2. Once you are out of the subway station, go straight for about 30 meters, and you will find the restaurant on the left. A sign in English reads “La Cigale Montmartre.”

“Tajmahal” – Where you can taste curry and Indian naan bread

If you’d like to enjoy Indian food, hesitate no more. Go to Itaewon’s Tajmahal, which serves Indian dishes from Delhi.
Most popular dishes include curry and naan (Indian bread). Curries can be classified under three categories depending on the strength of the spices: Korma is made of cream and milk to enhance the mild taste; Masala is curry with pepper and ginger added; and then there is medium flavored curry.
Soft, savory Indian bread, naan, is highly recommended with curry. Of course, it can be enjoyed by itself, but is better with curry. There are seven types of naan available at the restaurant. You can either dip it into the curry or spread curry on the naan and roll it up. Tandoori chicken, which is spiced and cooked in a brick oven, has become a popular dish. After enjoying Tandoori chicken, cleanse you palate with a glass of lassi, an Indian beverage.
The restaurant is very simple, reminiscent of those built in the 1980~90s, but it has a comfortable atmosphere, and the dishes are affordable compared to other Indian restaurants.
TIP-You can enjoy a buffet on weekends. Lunch buffet: 12:00~15:00; dinner buffet: 18:00~22:00.

< Detailed information >
☞ Business hours: 12:00~15:30 & 18:00~22:00
☞ Open year-round
☞ Phone: (02) 749-0316
☞ Menu: shrimp curry: 13,000 won; chicken curry: 7,000 won; lassi: 5,000 won; naan: 2,000 won
☞ How to get there: Take subway line 6 and get off at Itaewon. Go out of exit 3. Once you are out of the subway station, go straight for about 50 meters, and turn to the right at the three-way intersection. Go past the intersection and the restaurant will be on your right, located on the second floor.
▒ Map of Itaewon

* The information above was compiled in October 2009
Date 10/08/2009

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