Comfort food in a homey setting with two types of fresh kimchiBukchon Kalguksu is the type of restaurant that offers complimentary valet parking. Once you’re inside, you realize that the reception is just a gimmick.
The cozy, homey eatery, in a quiet neighborhood near the Blue House, is clean and sparsely decorated ― in a friendly Korean-diner sort of way. It is hardly pretentious, serving delicious Korean food at reasonable prices. It specializes in traditional noodles, pork dumplings, stew and Korean-style hot pot, or shabu shabu, dishes.
For lunch or a light meal, frequent visitors to Bukchon Kalguksu order sigol kalguksu or country-style handmade noodle soup (5,000 won or $4) topped with slices of chili pepper, ground beef and chopped green onions. The piping hot, opaque broth has a meaty and almost creamy consistency. The noodles are simple and delicious.
Also popular are wangmandu, round steamed dumplings, and wangmanduguk, a soup made with the same dumplings. Each costs 5,000 won. One dumpling, or mandu, is almost the size of a small orange ― thus the modifier wang, which in Korean means king-size. The filling is a mixture of ground pork, tofu, garlic, bean sprouts and green onions.
To complement these mild dishes, two types of fresh kimchi, red and white, are served on the side. Many Koreans, who miss the taste of old Korea, find white kimchi, or baekkimchi, delicious. Baekkimchi is made without red chili peppers.
Beoseot jeongol, or mushroom stew, is cooked in a large pot at the table, and is a festive meal for two or more people. Assorted mushrooms, slices of tofu, cabbage, green onions are halfway cooked in a beef broth. Then pork dumplings and noodles are added. Each person gets three large dumplings and a bowl full of noodles plus tons of mushrooms and vegetables in a flavorful soup. And let’s not forget the scrumptious red and white kimchi. The mushroom stew costs 7,000 won a person.
For this Korean-style party, we suggest a bottle of Baekseju, a Korean herbal wine, that costs 7,000 won. Too mild to be Korean liquor? Maybe. Many diners enjoy mixing Baekseju half-and-half with soju (3,000 won) to make a stronger drink called osipseju.
A word of caution: Bukchon Kalguksu’s sign is only in Korean.
Theme: Korean noodles and dumpling stew
Telephone: (02) 739-6334
Address: 84 Sogyeok-dong near the Blue House
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Credit cards: Accepted
Parking: Valet parking
by Ines Cho
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