Seafood stew and pancakes that truly taste homemadeDiners with big appetites and thin wallets will appreciate Sewhane, a Korean restaurant on a small street behind the JoongAng Ilbo Building in central Seoul.
The menu at Sewhane, named for its owners’ daughter, is limited. There are only two dishes ― beoseot kalguksu maeuntang (a spicy stew with mushrooms and noodles) and haemuljeon, or seafood pancakes.
The restaurant’s two ondol rooms and dining hall, which seats up to 45 people, are packed during lunch time.
The Kims, the couple who own Sehwane, have been serving their home-cooked specialties at this location since 1996. Their dishes are the type you’d expect when visiting someone’s home, and that’s appropriate since they live on the premises.
The sign for Sehwane is only in Korean. The interior is far from sleek. But the food is good and the tables are spotless.
The stew is cooked in a pot at each table. When the bright red broth ― filled with seafood and spices ― comes to a boil, they add dozens of sujebi (dumplings) and let them simmer together. The sujebi, mushrooms, leeks, onions, parsley, squid and shrimp are ladled into bowls and presented to each diner.
Fresh noodles are then added to the pot and cooked. This creates kalguksu, a Korean-style noodle soup. It’s spicy and delicious, rich with the seafood flavors from the stew.
The Kims use any leftover broth to make fried rice with chopped kimchi, green onion, dried seaweed and sesame oil.
The spices in the stew are diluted somewhat by the rice and some fresh kkakdugi, or diced radish kimchi. This feast costs just 5,000 won ($4.20) a person.
Sehwane’s seafood pancake (5,000 won) is large enough to be shared by more than two people as a side dish or appetizer. The potato-flour pancake has chopped squid, leeks, fried beef and shrimp. It’s crispy and golden brown on the outside, tender on the inside, and the seafood is chewy and tasty. The pancake is served with two dipping sauces: soy sauce and mustard.
Haemuljeon is only available for dinner because its preparation is time consuming and there are fewer customers at night.
A bottle of soju or herbal wine goes well with the meal, but the Kims don’t mind if you simply have water.
Theme: Korean-style spicy seafood stew and seafood pancakes
Telephone: (02) 776-3809
Address: 79 Sunhwa-dong,
next to Yangji Sikdan,
behind the JoongAng Ilbo Building
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Credit cards: Accepted
by Ines Cho