Party food everyday from Jongno kitchen
Every birthday party I ever had as a child in Korea, I remember the menu being weirdly eclectic in that, like most mothers I knew, my mother would prepare a chocolate birthday cake which sat next to a stack of these patties, fried chicken, kimbap (or seaweed rolls) and fruit. This peculiar mix of Korean and American comfort foods was the key to any kid’s heart, however, and I looked forward to these occasions with great anticipation.
It is quite a mystery why, although the patties are relatively easy to prepare, they usually only get to the table on special occasions. Maybe this rarity was the reason that patties were always an object of desire for me.
As an adult, I can eat dessert before dinner and watch TV after 9 o’clock. Nevertheless, there is a part of me that feels out of place whenever I have these patties on days that are not special occasions.
But at Gyeongbukjip, a 36-year-old restaurant located in Jongno-gu, northern Seoul, that specializes in patties and bibimbap, the patties are so authentically home-style it takes away some of the awkwardness of having these treats on ordinary days. Gyeongbukjip’s patties are far from the delicately-set, beautifully-made items found in more formal restaurants. Besides their rugged, generously-sized appearance, they feel homemade as the ingredients do not taste artificial or as if they include monosodium glutamate (MSG). The tofu inside is the best part, with a distinctly rich, nutty flavor. The pork also has a rustic feel as it is minced on site by the chef. A combination patty set for 6,500 won ($6.30) includes two tofu patties, four pork patties, and one each of green onion, zucchini and ham patties.
Around 8 patties are served for 6,000 won. For take-outs, there is no fancy wrapping ― just tin-foil and a plastic bag, with a little bag of soy sauce. I decided to order two sets for take-out and visit my friend who lives alone in Jongno-gu. We ate the patties with rice and kimchi, and a little soju on the side. As I munched on this “adult” meal though, I couldn’t help but feel like a 10-year-old sneaking off to bed without brushing my teeth.
by Cho Jae-eun
Gyeongbukjip is located 10 minutes walk from Jongno 3-ga subway station, line No. 3, exit 5. For more information call (02) 2275-8177.