Update, September 2016:
Look at the map below to find out where my favorite restaurants and cafes in Seoul are. Please click on the "pins" to find the link to the food review.
Note: While the locations of the "pins" on the map are close to the actual location, some of the pins might not be 100% correct. Therefore, please refer to the directions in the actual post.
Red pin: Mexican food
Blue pin: American food
Green pin: Non Korean Asian (Thai, Chinese) food
Coffee cup: Cafes/coffee
Yellow: Other restaurants
Fork and Knife: Korean Restaurants
Hamburger symbol: Hamburgers and Sandwiches
Pizza symbol: Hmm, I wonder?
by Ashley Heil
Last month I had the privilege of dining at La Marmite, a fabulous new french restaurant located in Haebangchon (HBC). I also had the pleasure of publishing my article in Groove magazine, my first ever magazine article! But anyway, my boyfriend and I both dined here, and couldn't praise La Marmite's food more. While I am certainly no french food restaurant, being a foodie I know good food when it's in front of me. The food was amazing. The chefs patiently explained every dish and you could really see the passion they had for french food. I would love to go back to this restaurant on a date or for brunch. While I have not had brunch here yet, I heard their fried chicken and pancakes is amazing. For dinner, they serve a 4-course delicious meal at only 35,000 won. This is an amazing price for the quality of food here. Anyway, check out my article in Groove Magazine for the full review, and to see the yummy food pics by the photographer Hannah Green. Enjoy!
Directions: Noksapyeong station, exit 2. Walk along the road until the road veers to the left. Walk past the kimchi pots and keep walking until you see Bonny's Pizza on the left hand side. Turn left on the road right at the corner of Bonny's Pizza. La Marmite will be on the left.
Recommended dishes: pepper duck breast w/ polenta, halibut w/ prawn head risotto, tagliatelle emiliano
Drinks: French wine by the glass KRW 6,000. French wine by the bottle KRW 27,000-45,000
Address: Seoul, Yongsan-dong 2 ga Haebangcheon, 5-767
Hours: Daily 6pm-11:30pm. Weekends: 10am-2:30pm, 6pm-11:30pm. Tuesdays closed
by Michael Jones
South Korea has many incredible pork dishes, and Bossam (보쌈) is one of the best. Most foreigners are familiar with Samgyeopsal (삼겹살), but many have never heard of Bossam and that’s unfortunate. Bossam is made by boiling pork belly and then slicing it into thin strips. The meat is extremely tender and it’s served with kimchi, rice, and side dishes. It usually comes with cabbage leaves, lettuce, and/or parilla to wrap the meat with. I prefer to wrap the succulent pork in Kimchi. At Jangsu Bossam (장수 보쌈) the kimchi is packed with flavor. We ordered the Bossam Baek ban (보쌈백반) for 9500 won for one person, and it includes pork, rice, kimchi and other side dishes. I’ve lived in Seoul for the last two years and this kimchi is the best I’ve eaten. The sauce is marvelous and the kimchi makes a great companion to the juicy pork. The fattiness from the pork melts in your mouth and mixes perfectly with the rich, slightly sweet and spicy, kimchi. It’s a true mom and pop establishment and it’s always packed with Korean people. Follow the locals, they always know where the best food is. The fact that it’s popular despite being neighbors with Gwangjang Market is an even better indicator of its quality. This small restaurant has two floors and is operated by a friendly group of old women. Every time we go there, the restaurant chatter stops when the foreigners walk in, but speak a little Korean and their faces light up, the conversations resume, and you will be well taken care of. The restaurant is authentic as it gets and they serve an outstanding example of a dish that is unknown to a lot of foreigners. If you want to try delicious Bossam and have an authentic dining experience then Jangsu Bossam (장수 보쌈) is a great place to go.
Go to Jongno 5 ga station, exit 6.
Walk a little ways and cross over the Cheonggyecheon stream.
Keep walking and the restaurant will be on your left.
by Ashley Heil.
The Damatori Makgeolli bar, or "ㅎ" Makgeolli bar, is our favorite place to go for Makgeolli in Seoul. Located in Haebongchon, or "HBC", it serves Makgeolli from all 8 of the different regions of South Korea (they are listed by region on the menu). They also serve awesome Pajeons and Dubu Kimchi to accompany your Makgeolli. Usually they insist you buy some food to go along with the Makgeolli, but if you don't want to spend a lot of money, you can get a tomato salad for 5,000 won. If you're new to drinking Makgeolli, they offer a sampler of 5 small cups of Makgeolli for 3,000 won. You can choose the 5 you'd like to try, or the bar can give you their recommendations. This is a great way to see which Makgeollis you like. The prices range from about 5,000 won to 20,000 won a bottle, so it usually ends up being much cheaper to come here with some friends and enjoy a few bottles of Makgeolli than it would be going out for cocktails or craft beer. If you've never tried Makgeolli other than the ubiquitous Seoul Makgeolli, this is the bar to come to!
Here are some of our recommendations of Makgeolli to try:
1. 복순도가 (Boksundoka) A premium, champagne-like Makgeolli. It was very bubbly and slightly sweet. Really different from other Makgeollis we've tried!
2. 느린 마을 (Neurin Maeul): One of our go-to Makgeollis we order almost every time. This one is great because it uses no aspartame like other Makgeollis, only natural sweeteners. It's pretty balanced, has a slight apple taste, is a little sweet, and refreshing.
3. 알밤 (Al-bam): This one is a creamy, chestnut-flavored, sweet Makgeolli. This one was one of our original favorites and we recommend it to people new to drinking Makgeolli!
Directions: Go to Noksapyeoung station, exit 2.
Come out and walk a ways down the road, and turn left when the road veers off, and walk past the kimchi pots. Keep walking until pass Bonny's pizza, and it'll be on your left. Look for the ㅎ sign.
by Michael Jones
I’ve always loved the rich flavors of Indian cuisine and thankfully Seoul has some wonderful Indian restaurants. One of our favorites is called Jyoti, and it’s located near Sinchon station. The atmosphere is comfortable and the smell of intoxicating spices hits you as soon as you enter the restaurant. They have a large menu, but I can never resist ordering the Chicken Vindaloo (11,000 ). It’s my favorite Indian dish and I love to dip flaky strips of garlic naan (3,000 ) into it. The garlic and butter mixes wonderfully with the spicy creaminess of the Vindaloo. We also ordered two sides of basmati rice (4,000 ). We splurged on this trip and ordered two of everything, but it was well worth it. Everything I’ve ordered at Jyoti: palak paneer, saag paneer, tandoori chicken, has all been delicious. They also have a great lunch set at only 9,000 won on weekdays. If I had one suggestion, it would be that no matter what you order, make sure to order naan. This oven-baked flatbread is simple, yet incredibly delicious. Naan is truly one of the best breads in the world. The outside is flaky and the inside is soft and warm. If you like it as much as me, you will use it like a utensil and soak up all the incredible flavors from your main dish. No matter what you decide to order, Jyoti is a great place to satisfy your craving for Indian food. Check out their website at http://www.jyotifood.com/index.php#20160707033702 to see more information and a full menu.
Go to Sinchon station exit 5.
Make the first right.
The restaurant is on the 3rd floor on the right. You should see some signs.
by Ashley Heil
UPDATE: Last I checked, the location is now closed. But you can still get a lot of their ice cream at Brooklyn the Burger, next door. If you want another great Ice cream shop, check out Sticky Ricky's near Sookmyung Womens University station. http://seoulfoodenvy.weebly.com/food-envy/sticky-rickys-ice-cream
About 2 weeks ago, my friend and I were wondering around the area near Coex mall and Bongeunsa temple, and we ran into a cool-looking custard shop across from a reptile pet store. Though we normally try to stay away from sweets; it was my friend's birthday, so we decided to try their custard. I tried 2 scoops of their dark-chocolate pretzel custard flavor in a waffle cone (4900 won). My boyfriend and his friend opted for a cup of the banana pudding custard. I was blown away by my dark-chocolate pretzel custard flavor. There were actual bits of pretzel in the custard, and the saltiness of the pretzel was a great contrast to the sweet chocolate flavor. My boyfriend and our friend loved the banana pudding. Although not a banana-flavored fan myself, they told me that the custard tasted like they had used real bananas, instead of having that fake banana flavor that some foods have. Additionally, the banana pudding custard had real vanilla wafers in it :) Interestingly all the flavors here are either sorbets or frozen custard, instead of "ice cream". I read up recently about the difference, and it seems that custard uses more butterfat which gives it a more creamy, smoother consistency than regular ice cream. And it's true, this custard at FRZ truly was incredibly rich, creamy, and full of flavor.
My boyfriend liked the ice cream so much we went back for seconds later that same night. We noticed that they sell ice cream sandwiches (5800 won), so we decided to give it a try. We soon realized that we could put any flavor into our ice cream "custard" sandwich that we wanted, and instead of 2 cookies, they serve the ice cream between two brownies. My boyfriend opted for the banana pudding flavor again. Although still not a big banana fan, I tried his sandwich, and it was amazing. Michael proclaimed we have to make the trip down to Gangnam once a week to eat this ice cream sandwich. It was so good!
We did come back 2 weeks later, and this time the flavors were a little different. I tried the Caramel Dulce de Leche flavor in an ice cream brownie sandwich again. My friends opted for the Reese's peanut butter cup flavor in an ice cream sandwich. My caramel Dulce de Leche flavor was amazing, but I think I personally preferred the dark-chocolate pretzel flavor I had before a bit more. But the Dulce de Leche was creamy, smooth, and worked well with the brownie cookie sandwich. I also liked how the brownie in the ice cream sandwich is more of an American-style brownie, not the doughy Korean-style brownies that you sometimes get. My friends loved the Reese's peanut butter cup flavor with their ice cream sandwich, and loved that there was actual bits of Reese's in it.
Anyway, I can't recommend this ice-cream/custard/gelato shop enough. It's some of the best ice-cream/custard I've ever had in my whole life, and the ice-cream sandwiches are truly unique. If you are in the Coex area, you should make it a must-try. It's also right next to (and owned by I believe), a Brooklyn the Burger joint location. So, you could make it a nice night of seeing Boguensa temple, getting a good burger, and finishing it off with some great custard. Just do it. Everyone's allowed a cheat night at least once a week!
Directions: Go to Bongeunsa station line 9, exit 7.
Come out of the exit and walk with Coex mall on your left and Bonguensa temple on your right.
Cross one road, and turn left on the next small road.
There will be a pet shop on your left, and FRZ ice cream and Brooklyn the Burger joint on your right. Enjoy!
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.
We're just a couple addicted to great food. We love Anthony Bourdain!