[RESTAURANTS IN SEOUL] Geobuk Gopchang

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[RESTAURANTS IN SEOUL] Geobuk Gopchang

This is perhaps the best restaurant serving various kinds of cows' organs. The place is usually packed in the evenings with cus tomers pressed in, back to back. The large dining hall contains over 45 small round tables. Each one is made of recycled oil barrels over which a fire is placed. The table is called a deureomtong (Korean pronunciationof ifdrumls) or doramutong (Japanese pronunciation of irdrumli used by older folks) and the restaurant has never changed its old-style, nostalgia-inducing look.

They have only one dish on the menu, gopchang gui (ipguilg means grill in Korean, though here the organs are actually fried), which goes for 15,000 won ($12) and serves two to three people. On sitting down, diners are firmly told not to touch anything while the food is being cooked; it is the famous grandmother, known simply as Halmeoni, who does the cooking. When the yang, gopchang, heart and sliced potato and onions have cooked slightly in a large black pan, Halmeoni comes to your table and splashes soju into the pan with a flourish, like a teppanyaki chef wielding a pepper grinder. She does it so skillfully that diners here and there emit gasps of admiration. When you're almost done devouring the animal guts, Halmeoni comes back again to fry rice. Lightly seasoned with sesame oil and chopped kimchi, the fried rice is perfect. No one is ever sorry to pay an additional 3,000 won for it.

To buy extra-fresh ingredients, the owner, Kim Wan-sool, goes to the garak sijang (a produce market near Jamsil) every morning and buys the best organs at the livestock auction. She and her staff prepare the food all day, mainly washing and chopping, until the first customers arrive. She is a strong advocate of "No MSG" foods.

Location: About 10 minutes’ walk from Gyodae subway station (line #2), across from Seoul National University of Education. Tel: 02-586-0032 (Korean only) Hours: 5 p.m. - 12 a.m.

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