In the maze of alleyways behind Jongno 3-ga Station, there is a hidden and worn-down restaurant with Korean meal sets for just 3,500 won. You can choose either the pollock or kimchi jjigae, which are both served with a large bowl of rice and several banchan dishes on a dented metal tray. With the warm flavors and hearty portions, you might think you’re eating in an actual Korean home. The smiling ajummas that greet you and the profuse servings are testament to the fact that hospitality still exists in fast-paced Seoul.
University towns are known for their notoriously low prices, but Cochon Tonkatsu takes it to a whole new level with their 3,000 won tonkatsu, served alongside rice, miso soup and sesame seed tonkatsu sauce. Even at this shockingly low price Cochon Tonkatsu doesn’t sacrifice quality and uses Korean pork and homemade batter, which is the secret to its thick, juicy interior and crunchy exterior. You get a hearty portion of meat, but if you’re a big eater, get the double tonkatsu with two portions of meat (double the price) or another bowl of rice (at 500 won). Take a bite of the tonkatsu and you won’t believe it’s only 3,000 won.
Of the hundreds of cheap-eats in the Dongmyo area, the 3,500 won kalguksu at 해물원칼국수 (Seafood Kalguksu) tops the list. The noodles in this dish are fresh and made from the best flour, and the anchovy-based broth is clear and not too salty (you can add some seasoned red-pepper sauce for more acidity). Side dishes of unripe kimchi and yellow radish complement the noodles well, and you’ll be finished before you know it.
Taking cues from Utopia Bagel in Queens, New York City; the bagels at Queens Bagel shine at you from the moment that you walk into their small corner location across from Ewha Woman’s University. The shop’s popular multi-grain bagel with honey walnut cream cheese and even if you’re not a fan of sweet flavors, this just might make you a convert.
Bangbae 24 Udon Jajang is, just as it name suggests, a restaurant in Bangbae-dong open 24 hours serving udon and jjajjangmyeon. You can choose between the udon, jjajjangmyeon and jjajjangbap. The udon, while a far cry from its original Japanese flavor, is topped with seaweed, fried bean curds and leeks making it more special than other cheap udons in the city. The noodles are thinner than udon noodles normally are, but they’re fresh and chewy.
The name of this restaurant roughly translates to “Famous Restaurant,” and it is indeed known for its more than affordable prices. One bowl of haejangguk (spicy meat-based soup known for curing hangovers) is a mere 2,000 won. Once you sit down and order, your steaming bowl of soup and a plate of radish kimchi will be presented to you in under a minute, fresh from the large boiling pot manned by the owner. But the restaurant isn’t just famous for its price, the haejangguk is clear with tofu and woogeoji (the outer leaves of vegetables such as cabbage) and boasts a rich and full taste, almost as if the broth had meat in it.
While other items on the menu include grilled pollock or fried pollock skin, this restaurant’s signature dish is its relatively simple dried pollock soup. Served with kimchi and saeujeot(fermented shrimp) on the side, the broth is full of tofu and dried pollock. The deep, savory taste of it will spike your appetite.
With two locations in Seoul, Bageloo’s selection of bagels—everything from plain to whole wheat, blueberry, garlic and more—are impressive. Bagels are offered with a variety of cream cheeses (nutella, honey walnut and jalapeño being some of the more interesting options), as well as your pick of classic bagel sandwiches. Our favorite is the onion with vegetable cream cheese – filling and savory.