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!
We're just a couple addicted to great food. We love Anthony Bourdain!