by Michael Jones
Vertex Chicken is a great restaurant located at the top of the hill in the booming neighborhood of HBC (Haebangchon). Vertex serves some outstanding American Style Teriyaki bowls, definitely are favorite in Seoul. The main meats on the menu are chicken and shrimp. These are marinated and grilled and then served over rice. You can choose between three sauces: teriyaki, pepper, and yumyum. I always opt for the Teriyaki, but the other sauces are great too. The owner actually makes all of the sauces on site. This is a large reason why his bowls taste much better than a lot of other places. He also meticulously weighs out all of the ingredients to ensure that you always get what you pay for. The restaurant is small, there are only 2 tables, so he does a lot of take away and delivery, but don’t let this dissuade you from trying his incredible food. The owner is clearly passionate about his food, if you can’t already tell from his dedication to homemade sauces and portion control. The Chicken Teriyaki is delicious and the sauce is perfectly balanced, not overly sweet, which is the major downfall of some places. The portions are large, think American sizes, and even the regular portion (7,700) with 150 grams of meat is a great amount of food. If you crave more food, however, or are simply large eaters like us, you can order a large (9,900) which comes with 300g of meat, or split the platter size (15,400) without rice, which comes with 450g of meat. The prices for the increase will differ depending on what dish you order, chicken teriyaki being the cheapest and the combo being the most expensive. Yesterday, we ate the chicken teriyaki platter size (15,400) and added white rice (1,100). It’s an incredible deal for the price, quality, and volume of food. We both left feeling full and that is no small feat considering we usually crush large pizzas between the two of us. The meat was tender; the vegetables had the perfect crunch, somewhere in the middle of overly soft and dentist visit inducing hard. The sauce was delectable and had the ideal amount of sweetness. It was complete harmony between meat and sauce, the true mark of a great teriyaki dish. For those of you that might want to try something other than teriyaki, I highly recommend the Dak Jjim. This dish is essentially a thicker version of Korean spicy chicken soup (닭도리탕). This is also served over rice and topped with a split hardboiled egg. I really love the creaminess of the sauce, and slight spiciness. You really can’t go wrong with any of the dishes. The next time you crave food in the HBC area, or simply don’t want to leave the house, I strongly recommend calling up Vertex Chicken.
DIRECTIONS Noksapyeong Station (line 6) Exit 2
Walk down the road and turn left at the military base .
Walk up the hill until it curves (Past the Paris Baguette).
When the road begins to curve left It will be on your right side in about a minute or two.
Their phone number is 02-790-9292. They are closed on Tuesdays.
by Ashley Heil
Some pictures to help with directions!
Last weekend, my Korean friend (who also happens to speak Chinese and lived in China), took my friends and I to her favorite Sichuan hotpot restaurant in the real Chinatown of Seoul, near Daerim station. As soon as we left exit 12 of Daerim station, we knew we were in Chinatown. All around us there were Chinese signs and people speaking Chinese. We've been to the "Chinatown" in Incheon before, and after going there, we were a little disappointed on its authenticity. But, Daerim station definitely felt authentic. There were even signs with no Korean translations. After we got to the building and walked up the stairs to the restaurant, at first I had my doubts about how good it would be as we walked past a smoky and sketchy looking Noraebang. But, when we got to the restaurant on the third floor I felt better. The restaurant was clean, all the customers inside looked pleased with food, and again all the signs were in Chinese, giving the feel of authenticity.
The great thing about this restaurant is it's 15,000 for all-you-can-eat food. I had never had Sichuan hotpot before, but I really loved this experience. When you sit down you can order 2 different types of meat that you want, and tell them the spiciness that you want for the hotpot. So, we ordered lamb and beef, and half spicy and half not spicy. Our friend ordered this in Chinese, but you can order in Korean as well (not sure if they understand English). After we ordered, we started preparing the different sauces that we wanted for dipping the meat and the vegetables in after they had been cooked in the hot pot. I made one with peanut sauce, and one with 2 different kinds of chili oil, soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, scallions, and coriander. They have so many different sauces and condiments available, and you can get as much as you want. Also, for sides for your meal, they had some hard boiled eggs and steamed rice. These were also unlimited; you can just grab as much as you want. From the side table we also grabbed the different vegetables that we wanted with our meal.
We started cooking our meat and vegetables and enjoying our food right away. I liked both of the different soup bases in the hotpot that we got: the spicy one and the non-spicy one. The non-spicy one reminded me a bit like shabu-shabu, but I found myself sticking to that side for a lot of the meal as the spicy side had such a strong (but delicious) taste. Most of my friends preferred the spicy side of the hot pot, however. There was just so much flavor in the whole meal, and the thin meat that we ordered really went well in the hotpot. I also love how with this meal you can really make it suite your own tastes with the different combinations of sauces, condiments, meats, and vegetables. We kept on getting more and more vegetables, and ordering more meat, and ended up sitting there for at least 2 hours. I just couldn't believe the whole time that everything was unlimited and that it tasted so good.
While enjoying the meal we ordered a bottle of TsingTao beer (5,000 won) and 2 small bottles of a strong Chinese liquor (Koubei (코우베이)口杯白酒). After we stuffed ourselves for a couple hours, we wrapped up the hotpot meal with some noodles that really soaked up all the different flavors that had been in the hot pot for the last couple of hours. The total came to 18,000 each for the unlimited hot pot and a few drinks, and we couldn't have been more full and satisfied. I haven't been this full and satisfied after a meal in a very long time, so after the meal we just walked it off a little bit, then went home and relaxed. The great thing about this restaurant is that we received so much food it basically counted as both a late lunch and early dinner. We certainly didn't need to eat another meal after all that food. So, I recommend this restaurant to people even if you've never tried hotpot before, and for those that have. Our friend that took us lived in China and she commented that this is the best restaurant she's found for the combination of the authenticity, the great price, and the quality, and I certainly agree. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
Go to Daerim Station exit 12 (line 7)
Come out of the exit and take a left.
Walk down the road and walk straight about 3 minutes.
The restaurant is next to 기흥 supermart on the 3rd floor.
See the pictures for more help with the directions!
by Ashley Heil.
While this post is a little late of our trip to El Nido, Palawan (the Philippines), it's a restaurant that's stuck in my mind whenever I think of my time in El Nido. Let's face it: most people do not go to El Nido or Palawan for the food. They go there for the spectacular beaches, boat tours among beautiful islands, some adventure sports, and for a chance to relax and party a little bit. But being a foodie, I knew when I came to El Nido I'd have to try and find where the best food in this small town was. Honestly most restaurants we tried in El Nido were pretty meh. However, there was one restaurant that surprisingly, blew us away. This place was Trattoria Altrove.
Michael and I went to Trattoria Altrove during the middle of our week with skepticism. There was always such a long line but we are such pizza snobs and all we kept thinking is, "how good could pizza in El Nido really be? Because the main location had a pretty long line, and we were just a party of 2, we went to the Express location just down the street. Despite seeing the pizza workers shove delicious-looking pizza pies in a brick-oven, we had our doubts, but wanted to try it anyway. We weren't expecting much, but we ordered 1 pizza each. The pizzas that came out were incredible. The style was somewhere in-between an Italian style and New York/American style, and a bit floury. All the ingredients tasted so fresh, and there was really a great balance between the sauce, dough, cheese, and toppings. We loved it so much we came back 2 nights later with some friends. That night we also tried the Pomodori antipasta, which was fresh mozzarella fried with fresh tomatoes and olive oil. This was also exquisite, the mozzarella tasted so fresh and way better than any cheese I've had in South Korea. One of our friends, who also lives in South Korea, said it was the best pizza he's tried in a few years. Over the two nights, we tried the Margherita pizza, the Romana pizza (with anchovies), and the Margherita pizza with bacon, and all of them were excellent. I can't remember the exact prices, but maybe in the 300php-500php range per person. Nothing that broke the bank, and really worth it for the food quality, but maybe a little more expensive than some other restaurants in El Nido.
This restaurant was truly our favorite restaurant and food that we had while in El Nido. If you're visiting El Nido and are an Italian food lover or pizza lover, wait out the lines and eat here. I suggest you go early, and try both locations if the main location has a long line. Trust me, you will not be disappointed!
Walk along the main road in El Nido town (with the beach on your left). It'll be on the right.
Note: in case the main location has a really long wait, there's also the Altrove Express location just down the street. This location has the same great pizza, and there are a few tables you can sit at here as well.
by Michael Jones.
This weekend we went to the soft opening of Dan Cho’s new restaurant, Pho Chi Minh. Both of us are huge fans of Paulie’s pizza, also owned by Dan, so when we heard about this new concept we were extremely excited to try it. We ordered a lot of food during the soft opening: two bowls of Pho, one order of Szechuan fried rice, fried spring rolls, and two Vietnamese iced coffees, one black and one sweet. Last year we traveled throughout Vietnam and one of the things we missed most after we left was the coffee. The coffee in Vietnam is strong, but also extremely smooth and buttery. Dan is sourcing the coffee, and the drip apparatus directly from Vietnam’s largest coffee chain, Trung Nguyen. The coffee reminded me of the wonderful coffee we had in Vietnam and the taste was dark, rich, and buttery. It's a great cup of coffee (3900 won).
The Pho was also outstanding and both of us ordered the #1, the Pho Dac Biet (9900 won for the regular size). The broth was very rich and slightly spicy. The chunks of meat were tender and the noodles were the perfect texture. We are not Pho experts, but we went to some great Pho restaurants in Vietnam and Pho Chi Minh did not disappoint us. There are some other Pho places in Seoul that we also really like, but this was one of the few times that we enjoyed all three major ingredients at once: the meat, broth, and the noodles. The Pho was great, but the Szechuan fried rice really blew us away. We love Chinese style fried rice and the Szechuan style was mouthwatering. It was spicy, like all dishes inspired by Szechuan cuisine should be, and it was extremely flavorful and moist from the wok.
Our first experience at Pho Chi Minh was great, so we went back with friends on Sunday. I was eager to try another dish that really gets my blood flowing, beef and broccoli. When foreigners think of American food, two meals usually come to mind: pizza and hamburgers. What a lot of people tend to forget is America’s obsession with American Chinese food. I spent a large portion of my childhood dinners sitting in front of Chinese takeout containers. Nine times out of ten, my container was filled with chicken and broccoli or beef and broccoli. Although I really enjoyed the Pho at Pho Chi Minh, I was really excited when Dan told me about their beef and broccoli served with rice. So on our second visit, we both ordered the beef and broccoli and we were blown away by the taste and overwhelmed by nostalgia. The sauce was thick, creamy, and perfect. The chunks of beef were large and tender, but the broccoli was my favorite part. The broccoli was perfectly cooked and added a fantastic crunch to the tender pork. These contrasting textures make the dish special. It reminded me of home, but the quality at Pho Chi Minh is definitely better than the places our families went to. The fried rice that was served with it was also wonderful, but Dan told me that in the future it will probably be served with white rice. Either way, I will be back often to eat this dish and all the other wonderful food at Pho Chi Minh.
Go to Gwanghwamun Station - Line 5 (purple)
Take exit 3 and make a u-turn
Immediately turn right at the next road and walk straight
Walk until you see the Korean archaeological site
Then the building will be on your right
Walk through the doors and go to the fifth floor.
You'll see Pho Chi Minh on the corner on the right.
by Michael Jones
I’m a huge fan of soups in Korea and Gamjatang (pork bone soup) is one of my favorites. When I found out that there was a Gamjatang alley near Saejeol Station (line 6) I made plans to go there as soon as possible. We’ve had this soup in a lot of places around Seoul, but the restaurant we went to in Gamjatang alley is hands down our favorite so far. By the way, the alley calls the dish Gamjaguk instead of Gamjatang. I’m not sure why, but it’s the same dish and it’s outstanding. We ordered the medium portion to split between three people (32,000) and the bowl was huge. The large bowl was overflowing with chunks of pork, potatoes, and some leafy vegetables. The tender pieces of meat were large enough to trick you into thinking they possibly came from a small dinosaur instead of a very large pig. The meat was incredibly tender and easy to scrape off the bone. The sauce was rich, creamy, and slightly spicy. The potatoes were boiled to perfection, soft and lightly brown. Every spoonful was an incredible variety of flavors on the tongue, from the spiciness of the broth, the rich fatty taste from the boiled pork, and the slightly bitter taste from the kkaetnip (perilla leaves). The kimchi at this restaurant was also incredible and we ate three sides of it. If you love Korean food as much as we do, I strongly advise you to visit Gamjatang alley. The experience is authentic and the food is out of this world.
Go Saejeol station (line 6) and come out of exit 2.
Walk straight for about 200 meters until you see Wasangyo Bridge.
Cross over the bridge and turn right.
Turn into the first alley on your left and go straight.
You'll cross an intersection and then see the signs for Daerim Market, where Gamjatang alley is.
Sigol Gamjaguk is the first restaurant on the left side of the street.
We're just a couple addicted to great food. We love Anthony Bourdain!