Originally a Sichuan dish, this version of malatang (麻辣烫) is closer to what would typically be served in Beijing. At Bonja Malatang we recommend the lamb malatang. Literally meaning “spicy soup,” this blood-red soup is heavily laden with the mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns and you'll discover bok choy and glass noodles hidden beneath the large slices of lamb. While not for the faint of heart, the taste (albeit on the greasy side) is quite addictive and the restaurant, with its name often in print and on TV, is the prize of the neighborhood.
Ah, the elusive soup dumpling. Ask a Seoulite where to find it and you'll most likely be recommended the famous Din Tai Fung as your best bet. However, head over to Chinese Yunnan Rice Noodles (중국윈난쌀국수) and make sure to order the tang mandu (탕만두, soup dumpling) or the xiao long bao for eight hearty pieces at 6,000 won. Although their xiao long bao was quite good, it was “doughier” and had less broth than what I normally expect from the dish. The thinner shell, pork and soup–filled dumpling (tang mandu) hit the spot instead.
In Daerim-dong, you'll find a slew of outdoor vendors selling various kinds of Chinese desserts. From tanghulu (Chinese toffee apple) to tang yuan (glutinous rice balls), you won't be in need of a sweet treat after your meal. However, youtiao is particularly appealing for its vague similarity to churros (and yes, we are so over those lines in Itaewon). A lightly salted fried doughnut “stick,” youtiao definitely isn't sweet like its doppelganger and is softer and easier on the teeth. After forking over a mere 1,000 won, enjoy biting into your youtiao (but watch out for the oil dripping onto your hands) or take it home to dip in some savory soup.
* Tip: For more great Chinese food, also check out Yeonnam-dong where a younger Chinese generation is establishing their culinary mark.