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Banryongsan is the name of a mountain near Hamheung, an east coast city in North Korea, and the hometown of owner Jeong Sang-hyeok’s mother. Regionality, he explains, is more important than lines on a map. The cuisine of Hamheung has more in common with east coast towns like Sokcho in South Korea than it does with other regions of North Korea—after all, they share the same deep, cold waters of the East Sea and are bounded by the Baekdu Mountain Range on the west. One such dish is gajami sikhae, a spicy side dish of lightly fermented flatfish in a chili paste sauce, especially famous in Hamheung. It can be mixed with greens and slices of pear for a little extra crunch. Also, try the dongtae kimchi, a basic cabbage kimchi with small bites of salt-cured pollock, another popular dish in the northeast (if you like it, you can buy jars to take home). Perhaps one of the restaurant’s most famous menu items, however, is the garit-gukbap, a Hamheung specialty. This filling soup has a base of rice topped with thinly-sliced egg crepe, shredded beef, radish, green onion and congealed ox blood, all in a broth made from beef ribs and brisket. It’s the kind of food you might scarf down because it’s so filling and delicious, and only later reflect on how much time goes into every step. Also worth trying is the squid sundae, stuffed and steamed squid “sausage,” another regional specialty.

By: Sonja Swanson


Venue name: Banryongsan
Address: Taehaeran-ro 78-gil 26

Opening hours: 11am–9:30pm
Transport: Seolleung Station (Line 2), exit 1
Price: Garit-gukbap 8,000 won, gajami sikhae 20,000 won, squid sundae 25,000 won
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