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Boost your stamina with Seoul's best eel

Often referred to as the one of Korea's healthiest foods, eel is especially popular during the sultry summer when it's in season

Ilmi Jang-eo

Located in Dongja-dong near Seoul Station, Ilmi Jang-eo offers a single option. Crunchy, deep fried eel bone is served as an appetizer before the salt-broiled, thick pieces of eel grilled over charcoal come out as the main dish. People often think that eel is greasy, but at this restaurant, this is far from the truth as the food is light in flavor. Freshwater shrimp and smelt soup, served as side dishes, complement the eel. Add some well-cooked rice mixed with seasoned chives and some sauce, and it’s an unbeatable pairing. Make sure to call in advance and check if they are open, as their schedule constantly changes.   PHOTOGRAPH: PARK JUNG-WOO

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Nam-Seoul Minmul Jang-eo

As soon as you place an order, they prepare the eel that they keep in freshwater tanks and put it on the grill right away. The eel's tail still  squirming over the flame is quite the sight! Afterwards, it takes about 20 minutes for it to cook. While you wait for the food to cook, try some of  their greenish alcohol made from the eel's gall bladder. The staff, most  of who have been here for more than a decade, grills the eel for you until it turns brownish gold. Although their salt-grilled eel is good, their grilled eel marinated in soy sauce is their signature dish.   PHOTOGRAPH: PARK JUNG-WOO

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Yeosu Dongchon

Yeosu is one of the largest producers of pike eels, which are often referred to as hamo. Unlike in Japan, this eel is not particularly popular in Korea. Thus, the dish was never locally altered and is cooked in the traditional Japanese shabu shabu way. The hamo is sliced into thin pieces and slightly boiled. It looks like a flower is blooming in the broth as the fish cooks. You then dip the hamo in soy sauce; wrap it in some onion and sesame leaves; and add garlic, pepper and bean paste. You can boil either ramen, udon or rice porridge in the broth as well.   PHOTOGRAPH: PARK JUNG-WOO

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