Koong is the top Seoul eatery for Gaeseong mandu (Gaeseong-style dumplings). The sight of the cooks shaping the dumplings by hand in the restaurant recalls the studio of a master craftsman. The restaurant began as a small business in the house of the founder, and as news of the dumplings spread, so too did the business. The current proprietor follows in the footsteps of the mother and grandmother, who was the original founder. It’s frequently the case that the original taste changes as the business is handed down, but not so with Koong—the taste of their dumplings remains exactly as it was years ago. Supposedly we have the many loyal patrons to thank for this consistency, as they’re not shy about voicing their opinions at the slightest change in the taste of the broth or the dumplings. The soft dumpling skins—rolled out in-house—are generously stuffed with pork, green bean sprouts, tofu, Napa cabbage, and leek. The main attraction is the uniquely gentle and lightly seasoned flavor of the Gaesong-style dumpling. In appearance, too, these dumplings are so prettily and elegantly shaped that it’s almost enough to make you feel bad as you bite into them. Yet there’s no special recipe. If you were to single out some trick in their method it’s that they mix the dumpling filling by hand. A machine just can't compete with the taste of a hand-mixed filling. You can’t skip the ddeokmanduguk (soup with rice cakes and dumplings), with dumplings, hand-shaped joraengiddeok (rice cakes shaped like cocoons) and a broth made of plenty of vegetables and beef brisket with the fat removed. If you manage to get the window seat to the right of the counter, you can enjoy an elegant meal with a view of the Gyeongin Art Gallery courtyard right outside.