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Yes to restaurants where you pay for kimchi

The following places do not provide free kimchi, but you’ll definitely get your money’s worth

Written by
Hye Won Kim
Cucumber kimchi by Jingogae
  • Restaurants
  • Chungmu-ro

Cucumber kimchi is never the star on the dinner table. The cucumber kimchi at Jingogae, however, is a different story. Among the traditional meal sets, there is an unapologetic “cucumber kimchi” set. Since Jingogae’s doors opened in 1963, their family recipe of cucumber kimchi has stayed refreshing, tart, and crunchy.

Prima kimchi by Byeokje Galbi
  • Restaurants
  • Songpa-gu

Byeokje Galbi’s “prima kimchi” is a must. The kimchi here has about a third of the sodium content of your average kimchi. It uses a little bit of an all-natural salt that has been maintained for three years to pickle the cabbages. This white (as opposed to red) kimchi hints at the clean and crisp taste, and is not spicy.

Galchi kimchi by Ipari
  • Bars
  • Seodaemun-gu

Contrary to your gut instinct, galchi (belt fish) kimchi is actually not fishy, but heavenly and savory. During the process of making it, you cut the belt fish into thick slices and fit it between the cabbage leaves. You can eat the belt fish whole (without spitting out the bones), and it’s surprisingly chewy. This dish calls for a drink.

Baekkimchi by Locanda Mong-ro
  • Restaurants
  • Seogyo-dong

This Italian restaurant sells manager Lee Jaeho’s mother’s homemade kimchi. Lee says, “I didn’t think much of it growing up, but people who tried her kimchi said it was good.” Instead of the usual pickles, Mong-ro serves kimchi. Lee’s mother tweaked the salt levels lest it be overpowering, but what she sells is pretty much the same stuff she fed Lee growing up. The kimchi is pickled with radish, dates and pine nuts, and served after ripening for 3–4 days.

Pear bossam kimchi by La Yeon
  • Restaurants
  • Jung-gu

This is not your average bossam kimchi. They scooped the flesh from a pear and filled it with cabbage, radish, and wrapped it with a pear leaf. La Yeon serves its original pear bossam kimchi with the dinner course meal. The cabbage and radish that has fermented over a week is crunchy, and the icy broth is refreshing. It is neither sour nor salty.

Cucumber by Gaeseong Jip
  • Restaurants
  • Dongdaemun-gu

The Gaeseong-style cucumber kimchi listed as “oyi”(cucumber) here is mul kimchi (white fermented kimchi). After stuffing the cucumbers, they ferment it with radish water, and the cold soup is as clear and refreshing as dongchimi (white radish kimchi with soup). The flavors are not overpowering, but subtle—it’s these subtle flavors that make this kimchi unique.

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