Hidden away on an alley near Chundong Theatre is this restaurant without a sign outside. There is only one item in the menu, Chueo-tang (loach soup). Still, it is always packed with people waiting diligently for their pot of soup. As this 50-year- old hanok restaurant only serves one dish, your order will be served quite quickly, by the gleeful employees.
The thick broth chueo-tang may remind you of haejangguk, Korea’s celebrated hang-over soup. The reason behind it, as an employee said, is because they use beef leg bone broth as the base. Dried radish greens, beef bones, loach and perilla seeds, the ingredients that go into making the delicacy, are all locally sourced. Namdo Sikdang follows the Jeolla-do province’s method of cooking chueo-tang, which involves using dwenjang (fermented soy bean paste) and ground mudfish. Ground perilla seeds are provided on the side, so that you can add as much of it as you want. Together with cucumber and cabbage kimchi, it’s a meal that gives you a homey and comforting feel.
The owner of this restaurant is now almost 80 years old. She comes out to her beloved sikdang every morning and grinds the perilla seeds herself —along with the rich flavors of the broth, her sincerity is served in every hearty bowl at this humble joint.