Markets nourish with down home comforts:Gwangjang Market
Gwangjang Market started carving out its own niche when nearby Dongdaemun became popular.
It now has around 100 vendors who primarily sell wedding presents and hanbok, traditional Korean attire.
Aside from these products, the market is also known for its bindaetteok, or mung bean pancakes, a popular snack made with freshly ground mung beans, mung bean sprouts, bracken, spring onions and beef.
The first restaurant to feature bindaetteok was Soonheene restaurant, which opened 15 years ago and is located at the entrance of the market’s food alley.
“We were the only restaurant selling bindaetteok when other people were selling clothes and household items,” said Chu Jeong-ae, the owner of Soonheene.
Soon after Soooheene became famous, others shops followed suit and converted their operations to become food vendors.
Currently there are more than 30 places in the market that sell bindaetteok.
Most vendors at Gwangjang sell gimbab, or seaweed rice rolls. But despite the steep competition for hungry customers looking for a quick meal, Monyeo Gimbab is the most popular for its so-called “drug gimbab,” so nicknamed for its deliciously addictive taste.
“A few years ago, a blogger said our gimbab is like a drug and the nickname stuck,” said Yu Yang-suk, the owner of Monyeo Gimbab.
The name Monyeo means “mother and daughter” in Korean and has a special meaning for Yu.
“My mother started the restaurant 40 years ago without a signboard to her name,” Yu said.Soonheene
For the past 15 years since it opened, Soonheene has served only one dish, bindaetteok, which is often served with makgeolli (Korean rice beer). The sauce served on the side is a mixture of spring onions, red pepper and soy sauce. The complimentary kimchi is made from cabbage grown in the countryside, where the owner’s brother lives.
Price: 2,000 won to 5,000 won
Hours: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
(02) 2268-3344Monyeo Gimbab
Monyeo Gimbab, famous for its addictive “drug gimbab,” has been around for 40 years. Its most famous dish got its name from a blogger who couldn’t keep away from the ubiquitous rice roll.
Price: 500 won to 2,500 won
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.