by Michael Jones
My relationship with chicken has improved since moving to South Korea. I used to hate the stuff, sure I enjoyed Chick-fil-A and the occasional bucket of fried chicken, but most of the chicken I ate was of the healthy kind: grilled, flavorless, slabs of white meat with the consistency of rubber. A great part of this was due to my lack of culinary skills, but when I lived in America I never craved chicken. In Seoul, however, my appetite for chicken has skyrocketed. I crave the flaky fried batter, tender meat, and the perfect assortment of dipping sauces and cheap beer. Despite my love for Korean fried chicken, sometimes I need to try different styles. Yesterday, I stumbled upon a small Jamaican themed restaurant called Zion Boat. The restaurant is located on the second floor and the interior is decorated in Bob Marley posters and reggae memorabilia. The speakers blared Bob Marley, of course, and other lesser known reggae artists. The lighting was dark, and one man cooked in a tiny kitchen. I was excited to try some Jamaican Jerk chicken. I figured it would be good, at the very least a welcome change from fried chicken, but it was far better than that. One serving of the boneless jerk chicken cost about 19,500 and was made with one whole chicken and serves two people. While waiting, you get a small wooden bowl of Korean beer snacks, an assortment of small crunchy things that I can never remember the name of. I was hungry and counting down the seconds. I didn’t have to wait long. The chicken was served on a big plate and complemented by a large house salad. It was more food than I was expecting, and it was delicious. The chicken was incredibly flavorful. The jerk seasoning was strong, spicy, and slightly sweet with just the right amount of heat. The sauce that came on the side was thick and tasted similar to the seasoning on the chicken, but slightly stronger. In a place where most chicken is deep fried, it was nice enjoying a different variety. The chicken was cooked perfectly and it was tender and moist, the polar opposite of the dry and tasteless chicken of my childhood. The whole experience was great and I would not hesitate going back. If you are in the mood for something different, I strongly recommend trying Zion Boat in Sangsu.
Go to Sangsu Station and take exit #1
Walk straight out of the exit
Continue walking for 5-10 minutes
Walk through the intersection @ Dokmak Ro 7 Gil
Then turn right immediately before the Hyundai store
At the first intersection take a left
Then take the first right onto Yanghwa Ro 6 Gil (Across the street from Dessert 39)
In about a minute, Zion Boat will be on your left
by Ashley Heil
Linus' Bama Style BBQ is the best BBQ I've had in Seoul, and maybe, ever. Tucked away in a back street of Itaewon, when I first saw this restaurant I thought, "oh, it's just going to be another overpriced American BBQ restaurant with small portion sizes". But after seeing it mentioned as possibly the best American Southern BBQ restaurant in all of East Asia, I had to check it out for myself.
Being as active as my boyfriend and I are, as we walked in, we were a little skeptical about how the meal would turn out, and if we would even end up full after our whole meal without having to spend a fortune. Now we've had some good BBQ in Seoul, including Austin's BBQ in Hongdae, and Manimal in Itaewon, but were were never completely blown away. Austin's BBQ was good, as well as Manimal, but the portions were so small and expensive at Manimal we were disappointed there. So we didn't know what to expect going into Linus'.
Michael and I got the "For Twos" platter (27,000), and split a side of Fried Okra with our friend (4000 won). My friend ordered the brisket sandwich (16000 won). The For Two's platter comes with your choice of 3 sides, a mound of pulled pork, and a mound of brisket. For sides we chose the potato salad, cole slaw, and the pork n' beans. When we received our food, we immediately started to dig in. The pulled pork is probably the best pulled pork I have ever had in my life. It was so tender and juicy, and melted in your mouth when you ate it. It didn't even need any bbq sauce or the slider buns that come with it, but those were delicious too. The brisket was amazing as well, but being a pork fan, it was the pulled pork that really blew me away. All of the sides were amazing as well, especially the potato salad. The fried okra was awesome, and for only 4,000 its a great side to split between a few friends. I wish I could have tried the mac n'cheese as well, because I'm sure its amazing. My friend loved his brisket sandwich, and I've heard its a must try at Linus'. Although Linus is more expensive than your typical cheap Korean meal out, this time, it was clearly worth it. We left full and extremely satisfied and happy. Linus' Bama style BBQ is definitely the place to visit if you want to satisfy your craving for some southern BBQ.
Noksapyeong, line 6, go out of exit 3. Keep walking a little bit then cross the road to the left (towards Itaewon). Turn right after you've crossed the road. Turn left on the first little road, and walk down a little bit. Then, you'll see the little ally way that leads to the entrance of Linus' BBQ.
Take exit 4 of Itaewon Station on Line 6. From the exit, continue on foot for about 350 meters until you see the McDonald’s on your left hand side.Immediately to the left of the McDonald’s is a door with a staircase leading downstairs. Follow these stairs down and continue through the small corridor past the custom tailor shop. When you emerge on the other side, you will see the restaurant on your right.
Army Stew (부대찌개), pronounced Budae-jjigae, is one of my favorite Korean Dishes. Budae-jjigae is an incredibly delicious hodgepodge of ingredients, and like many great dishes, poverty was the reason for its creation. During the Korean War, food was scarce and many Korean families had to incorporate cheap foods from the local army bases into their traditional recipes. This meant utilizing foods like spam and hot dogs, and these were usually leftovers. These desperate times, however, resulted in one of South Korea’s greatest culinary gifts to the rest of the word, Budae-jjigae. When the weather starts to get frigid in Seoul, nothing makes me feel better than a steaming hot bowl of Budae-jjigae. My favorite place to have this is located in a back alley near the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. The shop is inconspicuous, just a large, average looking, white neon sign can be seen from outside. What it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in popularity. As dinner time approaches, the place becomes crowded with hungry people. The old women in charge of the restaurant constantly sprint back and forth between tables taking orders, refilling side dishes, and distributing copious amounts of alcohol. The stew is served in a large metal pot and cooked in the center of the table. Each serving costs 7,000 won, so between 4 people we spent 28,000. The metal bowl was huge and it was loaded to the brim with spam, hotdogs, kimchi, ramen noodles, and some other vegetables. The stew is spicy and the smoky flavor from the boiled spam and hotdogs makes a wonderful broth. I should say upfront that I was not a fan of spam and that I probably only tried it once before coming to Seoul, but in this soup it is transformed into something not only edible but delicious. I actually find myself digging through the bowl, every time I eat budae-jjigae, desperately searching for any pieces that my friends might have missed. On paper, this dish sounds like a catastrophe. How could all of those ingredients possibly combine to create such an incredibly delicious, rich, complex, and satisfying food? It beats me, but if you live in South Korea and have not had this dish yet, then you should change that as soon as possible. Your taste buds will thank you.
Go to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park
Take Exit 12
Immediately take a left and walk straight (away from DDP, AKA the thing that looks like a spaceship)
Walk two streets down and turn left
The restaurant will be the second one on your right
by Ashley Heil
If you're craving breakfast south of the river, Butterfingers in Gangnam is not to be missed. It's my favorite breakfast place (so far) in Seoul, and I happily make the 30 minute subway ride on a relaxing Sunday morning to go get me some delicious breakfast at Butterfingers. Butterfingers in Gangnam is a large restaurant with 2 floors. So, even if there is a wait for brunch on the weekend, the lines always move fast. There is also another location in Apgujeong, but my experience there wasn't as good. But I've yet to have a bad meal at the location in Gangnam. It's easy to find, and they are open from 7am to 3am (for the midnight snack after a night of partying). In addition to breakfast/brunch items, there are also some dishes more suitable for dinner, such as burgers and sandwiches, and some dessert items (crepes and triple chocolate pancakes).
I've gone to Butterfingers several times now and I usually get the pancakes. I lived in Denver last year, a city known for having fabulous breakfast joints (Snooze, Syrup, Breakfast on Broadway...), but Butterfingers' pancakes are on par with all of the pancakes I ate back home. Additionally, they have everything else related to breakfast: fantastic french toast, waffles, sausage, ham, bacon, eggs, potatoes, and breakfast drinks. Everything is done well.
What I love about Butterfingers is really the size of their menu. There are so many different items and combinations of items you can choose. I love that they have a cheap side menu (with eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes), so you can just pick a choose a few sides if you want, or add a few sides to whatever meal you want to get. Yesterday when I went with my boyfriend, we chose the Split Decision Plate (22,000 won), so we could try a little bit of everything. It was great because it was really easy to split (hence the name), with 2 pancakes (we upgraded to banana pancakes), 2 french toast pieces, 2 pieces of sausage, and 2 pieces of bacon, along with eggs any way you want and potatoes. We thought we might want a little more food so we ordered an extra side of bacon. It was a lot of food, and both of us were full after. For about 28,000 won for 2 people for all that food, it was a good deal. However, what's great about Butterfingers is if you want to be cheaper you can just order one order of pancakes (4900-7200) and an extra side or two of something else, or you can splurge and order combination places like the Split Decision Plate or the Waffle Lover's special all for yourself. Previously, I've also tried the Morning After plate (10,600), which is a waffle with eggs, bacon, caramelized onions, and tomatoes. At first I thought it would be weird to have onions and tomatoes on a sweet waffle, but the combination of sweet and savory was fantastic. There are items available for every budget. Although I've never tried them, there are also coffee drinks, smoothies, ades, juices, and soda pops to quench your thirst. Though, I find their drinks to be a bit pricey.
Directions: From Gangnam Station exit 10, walk straight down the street and turn left between The Body Shop and Café Bene. Butterfingers will be on the left right after Burger King.
by Michael Jones
On Saturday night I went to Casablanca for the second time. Casablanca is a small sandwich shop located in the booming neighborhood of Haebongchon, not far from Noksapyeong station. The shop was packed, it always is, but for good reason. The sandwiches at Casablanca are the best I've had in Korea. The line was to the door, but we waited anyway. Last time I ordered the Moroccan Chicken and it blew me away, but I heard rumors that the Lamb Chili was even better and I had to investigate. We ordered two Lamb Chili sandwiches and one lentil soup. The Lentil soup was good and had a nice spicy after taste. The sandwiches came out shortly after and were outstanding. There is nothing pretentious about Casablanca, and I mean that as a compliment. Just 5 guys working in a small kitchen, using quality ingredients, and great bread to make delicious sandwiches. The Lamb Chili sandwich is served on flaky french-style bread and topped with fresh lamb chili, lettuce, tomatoes, and a thick serving of mayonnaise. The sandwich was simple, but the most delicious foods usually are. I had a cold this weekend so I was originally worried about doing this review. Eating with a severe cold is kind of like hearing sounds underwater, your senses are dulled. The lamb chili was so perfectly cooked and spiced, however, that even with the cold I could taste every bite. The sandwich was greasy, in the best way, and I devoured it in about two minutes. The sandwich was so good it's hard to do justice with words. For a good review of the delicious Moroccan chicken sandwich, check out our first Casablanca review. For 7,000 won you can't go wrong with a sandwich from Casablanca.
From Noksapyeong station exit #2
Walk down the hill till the split in the road
Then turn left and pass the kimchi pots
Walk up the hill for 5-10 minutes
Casablanca will be on your left
by Ashley Heil
While generally a positive person and not too critical on food, sometimes, I do come across disappointing restaurants. After reading some mixed reviews about Pancake Original Story (being that it's not as good as it was since it changed ownership), but hearing that the pancakes are amazing, I wanted to check it out for myself. After trying, the pancakes were really good and some of the best I've had in Seoul, but the service experienced here was awful enough for me to never want to go back. Read more to find out why.
A couple of Saturday's ago, my boyfriend and my two Korean friends had a real hankering for some good brunch. So after getting a late start to our morning, we made our way over to Hannam. Our friends were running late to the subway so we decided to wait for them, and didn't get to leaving the subway until around 2:15. The walk from Hannam station happened to be a little further then what we thought, and we didn't arrive to Pancake Original Story until 2:30. Super excited to finally have my breakfast, I didn't see the sign outside that said they were closing. I had read before that they take a random break from 3-5pm, but I thought surely, it's only 2:30, there's still another 30 minutes until the break. However, as soon as we walked in, they told us "sorry, we're closed". I said "What? It's only 2:30! There is still another 30 minutes until break time". My Korean friends even tried to talk to them, and we found out that even though the break isn't until 3, they stop seating people around 2:30. They refused to seat us and told us to come back at 5. One waitress in particular was especially rude. I stormed off because I was so mad after all that I couldn't eat the brunch I had been craving. I just think that if restaurants want to stop serving people at 2:30, they should say they're closed from 2:30-5, and not 3-5. Or even maybe 2:50 or 2;55. But 30 minutes before is unacceptable. They even had people still being served and waiting to order in there. Hmph. Then, we realized we couldn't even come back the next day because they are not open on Sundays. A Sunday brunch place that is not open on Sundays. Hmm. Anyway, we gladly took our service to another restaurant that was happy to serve us.
The following week, I still was craving some damn brunch. I thought, hey, I'll give this place one more try. I've worked in the restaurant business before, I guess I can understand them not wanting to sit anyone. So we went back, this time much earlier, around 12, so we could avoid the break time. I walked in and they told us there was a wait, so they got my phone number so they could call me when a table was ready. The restaurant is small with only around 6 tables inside, and a few outside. So, my boyfriend and I went to go sit at smoothie king to get an appetizer smoothie because we were so hungry. After waiting about 30 minutes for a phone call, I decided to go check and see how much longer of a wait it would be. I waited by the sign at the entrance for someone to acknowledge me, and the same rude waitress from last week saw me, served someone else, and didn't say anything to me at all. I called to her to get her attention, but then another waitress came out to tell me our table was ready. So I went back to smoothie king to get my boyfriend, and we went to the restaurant and were seated. Inside, while cutely decorated, the tables and space is very cramped and I hardly had room to put my backpack somewhere. We both immediately ordered the original pancakes, and then the double banana pancakes, as well as a side of bacon (though just a side of bacon wasn't listed on the menu). The pancakes came out pretty fast. However, when we were being served our food, I was in the middle of a conversation with my boyfriend about something else. After being served, the same rude waitress just stared at me as if seeing if I needed something (although I had already said 감사합니다), and it was just a really awkward moment. We started to eat, and I have to say, the pancakes were delicious, maybe on par with the pancakes I like to order at Butterfingers. The price is also decent, only 8300 for the regular pancakes, and they are pretty filling. They have 3 other combo plates as well, each priced at 16,000 won. While the pancakes were good, our service there was just very poor. The menu is a little small too, with the focus just being on their pancakes. If you want a wider variety and much better service, I highly recommend Butterfingers. While the food was good at Pancake Original Story and the prices are decent, it just didn't do it for me. But hey, give it a shot and maybe you'll have a different experience. And I'd like to know, has anyone been there that experienced good service or had a great time? If you did please feel free to comment!
Hannam station, exit 1(Gyeonggui-Jungang line): Walk straight from exit 1 until you get to the main road. Turn right. Keep walking until you see the bus stop sign "hannam station (한남역), and then continue to walk straight. Keep walking and you'll see a parking lot sign on your right. Then, you'll see a sign for SoonChunhyang university hospital. Then you'll see the big intersection. Cross the road to the left, and then cross the road again. Walk up the small slope and the restaurant is on your left.
Hanganjin station (probably the easier way to go): Go out exit 2 or 3. Walk to the big road that is going downhill (hannamgogachado 한남고가차도). Walk along the road down the hill for about 5 minutes. When you reach the big intersection, cross it to the left. Go up the small hill and its right there on your left.
by Michael Jones
I love Asian food, Korean food especially, but every once and a while I need to change it up. Yesterday after walking through the crowded streets of Myeongdong and being plagued by the smells of delicious street food, we decided to visit Din Tai Fung for a second time. For those of you unfamiliar with Din Tai Fung, here is a short history. The restaurant was started in Taiwan during the 1980s and gained critical acclaim during the 1990s. Now the restaurant has branches all over the world and Seoul has 5 different locations. The most popular item on the menu, and the dish that made them famous, are without a doubt the steamed buns, known as xiaoolongbao. The steamed buns and dumplings are made fresh, by hand I might add, every single day. One of the things I enjoy most is watching the chefs prepare the buns and dumplings in the glass walled kitchen. Every dumpling and bun is worked to perfection. Every crease and fold is done by hand and executed precisely. This is food making done with the precision and attention to detail of a Lamborghini factory line. This obsession over perfect presentation has made Din Tai Fung an incredible restaurant. The great food does not stop at the buns and dumplings, however, all the food is delicious and undergoes the same scrutiny. So to make a long story short, we decided to try as much as we could. We ordered the best set, which comes with sweet and sour pork, shrimp and egg fried rice, 10 soup dumplings, a clear onion soup, a side of cucumbers in a spicy sauce, and two tea drinks. I thought for 42,000 the price was well worth it. I’m a pork fanatic, and the pork was by far some of the best I’ve had. The batter was not overly greasy and it had a nice chewy texture. The sweet and sour sauce came in a large saucer on the side and was served hot. The sauce and pork together was absolutely phenomenal. The fried rice was good, the tea was delicious, and the dumplings and cucumbers were outstanding. We devoured everything and enjoyed the experience so much we ordered more. To finish the meal we ordered two pork and chive buns. The buns were fist sized, soft and warm like freshly baked dough, and filled with freshly chopped chives and tender pork. The buns blew me away. If money was no obstacle, I easily could have eaten more, less out of hunger more out of sheer deliciousness. Din Tai Fung is definitely not a cheap restaurant, but it is worth the price. Korean food is fantastic, but I still need to satisfy my craving for Chinese food. I’ve heard that the owner took recipes from China when he fled to Taiwan, so that’s why I’m calling it Chinese. Either way, the food is outstanding and definitely worth a try. Happy eating.
Go to Myeongdong station and take exit 6
Walk down the hill towards the shopping and throngs of people
Walk straight for 5-8 minutes
Pass a few intersections until you get to the main Myeongdong shopping street
This street is larger and runs perpendicular to the street you walked down
Turn right and walk until you find the Top 10 clothing store on your left
At the intersection where the Top 10 store is turn left
Pass the store on your left
Walk about a minute
Take the next right and walk about 50 yards
On your left will be a lot of chicken and beer places
Across the street is Din Tai Fung
The restaurant is on the second floor of the hotel (the hotel is under construction)
The sign for the restaurant will be in the first floor lobby next to the guard station
Walk up the stairs and ENJOY
by Ashley Heil
In the heart of Insadong is a wonderful Korean fusion restaurant in a traditional hanok building. This was one of the first restaurants my boyfriend and I accidentally found while walking around Insadong. Because of this restaurant's great location, in Insadong and a close walk to Gyeongbokgung and Samcheongdong, we have been back here regularly. What I love most about this restaurant is the atmosphere. When you enter, relaxing piano music plays while you sit down at nicer tables in a traditional hanok house. It's a great place to unwind after a morning or afternoon of walking around and seeing the sights. Another great thing about restaurant is the menu. While the restaurant is famous for their "special menu" of Insadong Seafood Rice,” they also have many other famous Korean foods such as bibimbap, ddeokbokki, and pajeon. Additionally, they give you a few different side dishes, a cold seaweed soup, and rice along with your meal. Not being a seafood lover, every time I go here I always order either the Chulpan Dalk Bulgogi or the Chulpan Gochujang Jeyuk Bulgogi. Each time I go, the Chulpan Dalk Bulgogi, a grilled chicken dish served in a hot pan with carrots, onions, and green onions, is always a huge hit with me and my friends. Priced at only 8,000 won, this is a great dish to try for anyone weary of spicy food, seafood, or anyone new to eating Korean food. The chicken is always very tender and all of the flavors come together very nicely. Another favorite is the Chulpan Gochujang Jeyuk Bulgogi (8,000 won), a slightly spicy pork dish (cooked with a Korean spice gochujang) with onions and peppers. Because I love pork and spicy food, this dish is amazing each time i have it. Finally, my boyfriend has tried the Nakji Deolsot Bibimbap (7,000 won) before, and told me this is his favorite nakji bibimbap that he has had. The bowl comes out burning hot, with a little bit of the rice getting burnt on the bottom. In addition to the food, the restaurant serves delicious teas, and makgeoli. On busy days there might be a little bit of a wait at the restaurant, but we are always seated very fast and the service is very good at the restaurant. I recommend this restaurant if you want some well-priced Korean food in Insadong!
Directions: Go to Anguk station, line 3. Go out exit 6, then walk a little bit until you see the walking street on your left. Turn left there, and walk a little bit down into Insadong. When you see the sign for the street Insadong 12-gil (인사동 12길), turn left. The restaurant is right there on your left.
by Michael Jones
For months I have wanted to try The Beastro, and today I finally got the chance. I went for lunch and it absolutely blew me away. I have to be honest, I was worried about trying The Beastro. Would it be just another pricey attempt at American fusion cuisine, or would it be worth it? Fortunately, it not only met my expectations, it blew them out of the water. The food was that good. I grew up in the southern United States, so it is safe to say that I've eaten a lot of fried chicken in my life. I can say with no reservations, that the fried chicken at The Beastro is some of the best I've ever had. The fried batter was crispy, light, and flaky, yet the boneless chicken beneath was tender and juicy. The chicken came with a house-made buffalo sauce which was outstanding. The chicken was served over a large portion of kale slaw. The slaw was a pleasant surprise; I'm a bit of a carnivore and oftentimes vegetables bore me, but the kale slaw was a great addition. I almost ordered another side of it. It really helped balance the slight spice from the chicken. I also ordered a side of smoked bacon which came with two strips. The server told us the bacon was smoked in house, so I had to have it. It's some of the best bacon I've had since moving to Seoul. I could really taste the smokey flavor in the meat and it was the perfect tenderness. Overall, The Beastro was an incredible experience and I look forward to going back. It was so good in fact, that I decided to make reservations for Friday night. The lunch menu and dinner menu are different and now I want to try everything. The owner is mixing some traditional American cuisine with French culinary techniques and the result is phenomenal. If you seek delicious high-quality food, look no further than the Beastro in Hongdae.
Fried Chicken and Kale Slaw (14,000)
Smoked Bacon (4,000)
Verdict: Worth Every Penny
Go to Sangsu station and take exit #1
Make a U-turn and follow the sidewalk
Walk until you have to cross the road
Keep straight and pass Monster Pizza on your left
Walk a little further and a park will be on your left
Behind the park is a road lined with street food
The Beastro is located in an alleyway across from the vendors
by Ashley Heil
Guhl Goo Nae Wang Gob Chang (걸구네 왕 곱창) is without a doubt my favorite samgyeopsal (삼겹살)place in Korea. Because of its location in Itaewon, I think a lot of people think there could never be good Korean food in an area with such a strong focus on foreign foods. But after discovering this place I have learned that some of the best pork in Seoul can be found here. Sure, there are some other good places that are famous and delicious such as Palsaek Samgyeopsal, but I find I like this restaurant more for its focus on serving the samgyeopsal simply with just a side of some ssamjang paste, salt, and a light sauce on the side. The samgyeopsal (11,000 for 220g) is also served on a sloped grill with delicious marinated vegetables below, so the pork fat can be captured in the vegetables for extra deliciousness. After you've tried the samgyeopsal, you can try their marinated pork ribs (available in mild and spicy, 10,000 won). While me and my boyfriend were never big fans of ribs before we moved to Seoul, these ribs are tender, succulent, and simply irresistible. If you want more to eat, they also offer pork skin, doen jang jjigae (5000 won), gyeran jjim(an egg casserole), fried rice (2000 won), and a few other items. If you're looking for a new samgyeopsal or pork rib restaurant to try, then this place is for you.
Directions: From the subway: Itaewon line 6, exit 4-take an immediate left, and then turn right on the main street. Take another right on the first smaller street. Walk down a little until you see the "Hwang So ma eul" sign, and then the restaurant is to the right of that sign tucked a way a little bit.
We're just a couple addicted to great food. We love Anthony Bourdain!