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Hot meals for good health

Umma says sweat while you eat to stay healthy

What comes to mind when you think summer eats? Watermelon? Iced tea? Popsicles? Here in Korea, tradition has it that when the weather’s hot, your food should be too. The logic behind it? Sweat to cool off, of course. (And don’t try to argue with umma on whether it’s actually scientific.)

Robadaya Kaden

Dilated pupils, sharp intake of breath, a slight smile playing around the lips. These are not uncommon physical reactions observed at Robadaya Kaden.This is Chef HoYoung Jung’s third restaurant after Izakaya Kaden and Udong Kaden. Robadaya is known for its fresh fish, meat, and vegetables cooked on the robadayaki (brazier grill), widely considered a winner among local izakaya. The difference comes from the quality of fire used. Chef Jung uses top quality charcoal made of high heated, impurity-free wood that has a strong flame and the taste of fire. Some of the signature dishes include geumtae, tile fish, baked fish from Jeju Island and Berkshire grilled pork neck garnished with pickled seafood. The chef recommends the grilled sea bream as it makes use of live tile fish. This dish is known for its crispy scales nicely seasoned with a taste of charcoal fire, which removes the fishy smell and taste. It's the kind of meal you have to try in order to appreciate. There are just 32 seats in total, and reservations are recommended.

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Seogyo-dong

Pyeongraeok

Add onions, chili seeds, ginger, garlic and spring onions when boiling a large domestic chicken, and these ingredients will rid the chicken of its smell. Break off the thigh meat of the well-boiled chicken to cool, and mix the broth with beef brisket and dongchimi. Add the julienned vegetables and buckwheat noodles with vinegar and mustard for extra taste. This rare summer dish hails from the North and Pyeongraeok, which opened in 1950, has been serving North Korean fare for decades. However, their most popular items are neither the Pyeongyang-style cold noodles or their sliced beef soup, but this chogyetang(chilled chicken soup). Regulars point to this dish, served with a side of chicken slices with the skin on, as their favorite.

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Jung-gu

Mokpo Nakji

The croaker, which reaches its full growth of one meter in the early summer, is ready to be fished mid-July. This underrated white-meat fish has only recently caught the attention of urban foodies who enjoy it raw, steamed, in a soup and panfried in batter. Mokpo Nakji, which brings in fresh catches from the southern waters such as octopus and pike conger, serves the fish in more ways than one. Croakers are preserved in soybean paste, and steamed with beansprouts and other ingredients. The dish is savory with a sweet aftertaste, and has an aged flavor, just like a good cheese.

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Mapo-gu
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Doo-uh Mari

Two childhood friends born in 1983 grill eel in the quiet alleyway of an apartment complex in Gangnam. Unlike other grill houses, Doo-uh Mari looks and feels like a laid-back cafe. The two young owners traveled down south with the sole plan of trying the local eel, and then ended up consulting with numerous restaurants to concoct their own menu. They now have their own supplier, and have discovered a knack for grilling eel speedily over charcoal, with a generous sprinkling of salt to give it a clean taste. Pair the grilled fish with grilled bellflower root (18,000 won) and you will discover a taste like none other. Thumbs-up to the combination.

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Gangnam-gu

Korea Samgyetang

Patrons exhausted from the heat, wanting to regain energy lost from the torrid weather, lining up outside this samgyetang (ginseng chicken stew) restaurant is a familiar sight every summer. It’s questionable whether a single hearty meal can do much for one’s energy, but if that meal is samgyetang—then, perhaps, that’s another story. Korea Samgyetang opened its doors in 1960 and continues to thrive today, as Korea’s first samgyetang restaurant. The meat of the seven-week old rooster (one raised for breeding) used is firm, with a pleasantly chewy texture, and the bird is stuffed with glutinous rice, four year-old Geumsan ginseng, dates from Gyeongsan and various traditional Korean medicinal ingredients. It’s all placed in an iron pot and simmered down. And once you consume the meat, chewy and yet soft enough for the bones to slip right out, accompanied by a bowl of the savory broth, you can almost hear all the organs in your body shout, “Ah, that’s refreshing, ah that’s warm!” At this point we can’t even call it food—this is a drug.

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Jongno

BeutBeut

Want to try contemporary palace-style Korean cuisine in a casual atmosphere? BeutBeut takes its name from an old Korean term for kitchen and although its simple and modest aesthetic might not suggest royalty, the details found in the food set this small restaurant in a league of its own. From house-made pickle varieties, including water kimchi and fermented sesame leaves, to different types of chili and bean pastes, the restaurant captures mild, earthy Korean tastes with an unexpected twist. One of the restaurant’s must-tries is the palace kimchi with buckwheat noodles that are infused with olive oil and topped with herbs, chives, crushed walnuts and fresh orange slices. BeutBeut take on samgyetang (traditional Korean chicken stew) is equally interesting and presents just the chicken, with no broth, and three kinds of salt. Using the sous-vide technique for 7 to 8 hours with medicinal herbs, the poultry comes out as a good combination of jelly-like skin on the outside with tender meat on the inside.

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