For some, these are a story-filled taste of home that they miss especially during holidays. For others, they're delectable and refreshing options that, fortunately, exist within Seoul. Take this holiday to experience the best of Korean cuisine that you haven't explored yet!
Adjacent to the Southern Sea, Tongyeong food boasts a wide variety of in-season seafood that makes for mouthwatering, rich flavors. Located in Seochon, Tongyeong Dining prepares quite the spread with fresh ingredients delivered every morning straight from the very city it represents. Owned by a mother-daughter duo, the restaurant is so busy that seating is now by reservation only. At Tongyeong Dining, the daughter is in charge of the kitchen, and the dishware is all handmade by her as well. Courses start with a sweet potato, oat and red bean porridge, followed by in-season seafood like butterfish sashimi, parboiled octopus, braised sea bream and croaker stew. All dishes are available as single orders.
Tucked away in a hidden alley near Yaksu Station, Cheogajip doesn’t even have a sign. But people storm in as soon as the restaurant opens, including loyal customers who’ve been coming for more than 50 years. Built in a renovated private house, the restaurant specializes in northern Korean cuisine, usually known for its “blandness” compared to its southern counterparts. Their signature menu is braised chicken, cooked in the traditional Pyeongando way, with no seasonings but steamed chives. The spicy vinegarand-mustard sauce, on the side brings out the flavors of the meat and the vegetables, leaving a rich but clean aftertaste. For first-timers to northern food who prefer a kick to their taste buds, we recommend the spicy buckwheat noodles.
Goheung-gun, Jeollanam-do is a county consisting of the Goheung Peninsula and 175 small islands. Relatives of the restaurant owner send over the ingredients, and their produce, such as lettuce, pepper, eggplant and cabbage, are grown at a farm in Guri. Goheungman’s signature dish is the cockles special that uses Beolgyo cockles. Ten different in-season side dishes and a basket-full of savory steamed cockles, seasoned cockles, fried cockles jeon (pancake), cockles with vinegar dressing and seaweed fulvescens soup are the first to arrive at the table, while the sole fish and flathead fish are being prepared in the kitchen. Cockles are the best in winter, so September might be a tad early to fully enjoy them. However, finished with a glass of fresh green plum tea, the whole meal is both satisfying and comforting.
As the name indicates (“Tamra” is an old name for Jeju), Tamra specializes in traditional Jeju cuisine. Hailing from the island himself, the chef uses ingredients delivered straight from Jeju. Our contributing editor from the States described the place as: “somewhere she doesn’t wanna let anybody else know, cause it’s so good” (although, to her chagrin, it’s popular enough now). Weathered seashells and an artificial palm tree brighten the interior, bringing the Jeju-esque atmosphere all the way to Seoul. Some of the signature dishes are meat noodles in a ric pig leg bone broth; gulfweed soup simmered with meat; and Jeju-style sundae (Korean sausage) made with buckwheat powder, ox blood and sticky rice. Boiled pork belly slices are one of the most popular menu-items.