A Fat Girl's Food Guide to Eating in Korea

Jil’Hal Bros

One of the standouts on my trip to New York this year had to be the chicken and rice from the Halal guys street cart. Nothing fancy but those delicious giant foil containers filled with chicken, rice, salad and pita bread rocked my world and they were only a mere $7 dollars, I just couldn’t get enough. Anyhow I put the deliciousness that was chicken and rice behind me after making my own a couple of times and realizing that I would never quite strike the right balance of flavours. When one day out of the blue one of my most diligent and well sourcing foodie friends discovered Jil’Hal in Cheongdam and once again all was right with the world.

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Jil’Hal is not really much more than a hole in the wall that sells chicken and lamb kebab meat in a couple of different ways, but that is more than enough for me. They share a seating area with a restaurant next door so there is a place to sit but I’d guess most people get their food to go.

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I of course could not resist getting  the Chicken and Rice (6,500). Not quite as large as the NYC one but it’s the same price and a very good rendition indeed. Generous with the flavourful chicken and a nice bit of salad and pita bread. They also have the spicy and the white sauces to complete the experience, it’s pure heaven.

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As lamb is his favourite, TFB went for the Gyros (7,000), which is the same rice dish that I had with slices of tender lamb. A total taste sensation it’s really hard to say which one is best. They actually do a mix of the lamb and the chicken so next time I would just get that, or just get two orders because it’s just that good.

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As the food was so cheap and I’m so greedy I also got a Chicken Wrap (3,900) on the side, I just couldn’t resist giving it a try, a nice change from the typical Itaewon kebab which just don’t hold the same allure that they used to, and an absolute bargain price for the area. You’d be hard pushed to find anything cheaper and more delicious than this in the hood.

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To drink we shared a beer. 3,000 for a Miller is actually very reasonable, they have soft drinks too. It was the perfect week night dinner, tasty and cheap and I will definitely be back again soon. If you’ve been to New York and are craving chicken and rice, this place is not to be missed.

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Jil’Hal Bros is located at 124-11 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there talk a train to Cheongdam Station (line 7) and come out of exit 9. Walk straight for about 9 blocks until you reach the big double intersection, then go across and take the first right, keep walking straight for two or three more clocks and you will see Jil’Hal Bros a little way down on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-544-1422 or check out their facebook page.

 

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Cote Jardin

 

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Brunch is by far and away my favourite meal of the week. A time to catch up with friends over eggs and a few cocktails, it’s the most important event in my weekend calendar. While Itaewon may be jam packed with restaurants offering brunch and lunch, an alfresco brunch is very hard to find indeed. Last week after my brunch at The Libertine, we were walking back through Itaewon when we noticed Cote Jardin. I was immediately heart broken that we had missed out on an opportunity to dine at such a beautiful restaurant, so vowed to give it a try as soon as possible. The garden terrace is unimaginably beautiful(for Seoul at least) with the large tree overlooking the courtyard and little tables strewn throughout. It’s so French chic. The large house that looms in the background has been completely renovated, there is a balcony and long stair case, an outdoor bar and shuttered windows that are just so European, every detail has been thought of, the place is incredibly exquisite.

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The brunch menu is served until 5pm which should please those who like to get up late. As well as the brunch menu there is a lunch menu which has an ample selection too. We arrived without a reservation early on a Saturday lunchtime and were told that most of the tables had already been reserved, however there were just a few going spare. Otherwise there are three floors of seating in the main house, but on such a beautiful day it really did seem churlish to sit anywhere else.

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I was feeling in a light mood as the weather was so warm so opted Oeuf Poche Salade Campagnarde (14,000). Poached eggs over a rustic salad of walnut, bacon, potatoes and croutons. A beautifully presented salad, I was really looking forward to this. The dressing was excellent but after a few bites I realized that my egg was cold, ice-cold. While the yolk was still perfectly runny I realized they are more than likely pre-poaching the eggs then submerging them in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. I wouldn’t have minded had it been cold as cold boiled eggs are always in salad, it was the ice-cold factor that put me off. I asked for a warm egg instead which was brought out to me, though it did mar my dining experience somewhat.

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My brunching companion had the Oeuf Benedicte avec Saumon et Asperge (13,000). Again presented exquisitely and the salmon was excellent. When I asked how the dish was she replied that the eggs too were cold in her dish along with the hollandaise. For me a cold egg in a salad may be the chefs preference but certainly not for a Benedict. Cooking eggs fresh to order seems as though it should be a basic requirement for brunch especially in such a high end restaurant, so I don’t know quite why they are being sent out cold. If they could sort out the temperature then they could well be in the running for the best eggs benedict in town.

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I wasn’t planning on drinking at lunch, but my friend had a glass of the House white (8,000) which she didn’t particularly care for. Then we were given some complimentary champagne after the egg debacle and my glamorous dining companion had complained in her perfect French. The champagne was a lovely demi sec which I really enjoyed and would certainly get again, there is also a pretty decent cocktail and wine list too.

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While the brunch was less than perfect it was really only the egg thing that was the problem, and I’d love to come back and try the burger and the croque monsiur which I’ve heard wonderful things about. The setting is so beautiful and they are still a fairly new place so I shall definitely be visiting again, just be sure to ask for your eggs warm!

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Cote Jardin is located at 131-23 Itaewon Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (line 6) and come out of exit 3. Turn back on yourself and take a left at the intersection and walk down the road where Taco Bell is. Cote Jardin is a little way down on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-793-5072 or check out their facebook page.

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The Libertine

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Last year The Libertine Bar and Kitchen was my go to brunch spot, no one could compete with their fab array of cocktails, Eggs Benedict, and elegant atmosphere. It was the place I always wanted to be on a weekend. However for me things went down hill a bit and it fell out of favour, and I haven’t been back for the best part of a year. Last weekend Libertine updated their menu and lowered their prices so I figured it was about time the prodigal daughter returned.

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The interior is still as fabulous as ever, light airy and very New York cool, light streams through the large windowed frontage and the setting is just perfect for a classy brunch. To mark the occasion of the new menu, they were running a special on bubbly, 5,000 for a glass or 30,000 for a bottle. We of course couldn’t resist in partaking in a glass or two.

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The new menu has brought back a few favourites like the breakfast, while adding a few new dishes. All the brunch items are now priced between 12,000 – 17,000 won. It is still not what most people would describe as cheap but I think for the caliber of place it’s incredibly reasonable.

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I opted to order the Steak & Eggs (15,000), which is new to the menu and I figured at that price it was definitely worth trying. The steak was small in size but I think was very reasonable given the price. It was lovely and pink in the middle and I adored the zingy salsa verde. Served with two slightly over cooked fried eggs, a small salad, and a piece of crostini. For me this was the perfect amount of food for a light brunch, though I think big eaters would still be hungry and in need of a dessert.

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TFB opted to try the Moroccan Eggs (12,000). This is their take on one of my favourite egg dishes, shakshuka. The fried eggs lay on top of chunks of chorizo sausage in a rich tomato sauce. While the sauce was very tasty indeed I think it would have been better if the eggs were poached in the sauce instead of fried.

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My best gal pal Sandra ordered the Eggs Royal (16,000). This one is served with salmon but they also have a version with ham. The Eggs Benedict here is pretty much unrivaled, the eggs are always poached perfection with their lovely runny yolks, while the hollandaise is so lusciously thick it’s almost like a mousse and has the ideal combination of tangy lemon and buttery goodness. It’s spot on.

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Overall all we had a lovely brunch and I will certainly be returning more often. It’s the place to go for a boozy brunch, as nowhere else rivals their cocktail menu while still serving up classic brunch dishes. It’s certainly not the cheapest brunch in town but if you are looking for something a little bit more special frankly I think it’s worth it.

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The Libertine Bar & Kitchen is located at 141-8 Itaewon-dong. To get their take a train to Itaewon station (line 6) Come out of exit 3 and turn back on yourself and take a left walking down the furniture street past Taco Bell, and Bulldogs restaurant. Keep going straight until you reach The Libertine on the ground floor. You can call them on 02-790-9477 or check out their facebook page for more information.

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Sinbads Kitchen

Last weekend I took two of my hungriest friends to give the Ethiopian food at Sinbad’s Kitchen a try. I’ve only had Ethiopian food once before, back in 2007 when it became London’s latest trend food. I remember being impressed and always meant to go again, but I was a bit of a party girl back in those days and preferred to save all my money for nights out rather than dinners. So when I heard on the grapevine that Sinbad’s Kitchen in Itaewon was serving up some stellar Ethiopian cuisine I couldn’t resist giving it a try.

Sinbad-interior (more…)

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Brooklyn the Burger Joint – Sinsa

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Another day, another burger place opens its doors. Of all the foods in the world burgers are the one thing that never seem to go out of fashion, especially in this city, and it seems like nary a week passes by before there’s another new one to try. As a self confessed burger lover I couldn’t wait to come and check out the newest burgeria to open it’s doors.

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Brooklyn the Burger Joint has decided to open up their second location in Sinsa, but instead of going with a straight up burger place like their original location in Sorae French village, they’ve decided to go all out and make it a 24 hour all American diner. Yes that’s right, you read correctly, burgers available 24 hours a day, your late night munchies just got a hell of a lot more classy than a Big Mac.

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The location is decked out in pure retro diner attire, 50’s style counter top, napkin dispensers, comfy boothes, root beer, and a Kool Aid dispenser, it’s right out of Grease, and sitting up at the counter I sure felt like Sandy!

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To pop our lunch time cherry we started off with an order of the Jalapeno Poppers (8,000 for 5). These peppery treats certainly had a heat you could taste the moment you bit into it, though they were a bit light on the cheese stuffing for my taste. The spicy tomato dip on the side was tasty though, and I know a good friend of mine has being dying to find these on a menu so they will certainly put a smile on her face.

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The burger menu has been beefed up a fair bit since my last visit to the Sorae location. So it’s good to know that they now offer lamb and fish burgers as well as the beef. We all took a good ponder and settled on our choices. I went for the Real Mccoy 5oz (9,800). Double american cheese, onion and bacon. The first thing that hit me about this burger was that it definitely needed sauce, so I did a mix of the mayo, ketchup and mustard and that solved the problem. However as I took my second bite I was just reminded as to why I didn’t love the burgers on my last visit. I just don’t like the patties they use. I know everyone else seems to rave about them but to me they are under seasoned and the meat has a very odd flavour to it, I’m nut sure what cut they are using to make the mince but for me it has that kind of flavour you get when you defrost beef in the microwave and however much I try I just cant seem to shake it. I’m sure they are using the finest ingredients but for me sadly they just don’t cut the mustard.

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My buddy Alex went for the C.R.E.A.M 5oz (9,800), Topped with sharp cheddar, bacon and horseradish mayo. I enjoyed it this time so much more than I did the last time I ate it. The blend of cheddar, bacon, and horseradish mayo was perfect, along with a the slightly sweet buttery bun. If they were using different beef patties then this would be a winner for my top three burgers for sure. On top of the C.R.E.A.M we ordered a side of cheese fries (5,500), which were laced with the cheeseiest fake cheese topping I’ve ever had. I’d probably get these again on the side, but wouldn’t go for a full order.

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My other dining companion, the Casablanca King ordered the Big Fish (7,800). A thick fried fish fillet burger, double American cheese, tartar sauce, and a sesame-seedless bun. This is what all Filet-o-Fish Fans have been dreaming of getting their hands on, this baby is sure to satisfy your Maccers cravings for sure. It’s nothing fancy and not in the same league as a posh fish finger sandwiches that us Brits adore so much, but it’s a fishy treat in burger form and pretty cheap to boot.

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As well as the burgers they have expanded the milkshake menu so it now includes a mouth watering 58 flavours. They still have my favourite, the Nutella with Burnt Marshmallows, which is still as scrumptious and heavenly as always. But we also tried the extra sweet and sickly White Chocolate & Cookie along with the Orange and Ginger which was surprisingly creamy and refreshing. The milkshakes are all 6,800 which I personally find to be a bit steep and would only order one if I was really in the mood for it, however I’m sure they will be popular with the wealthy locals though.

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While I wasn’t blown over by the food at Brooklyn the Burger joint I still adore the diner concept. Yeah there are better burgers in town, but few of them are open 24 hours a day and serve such sumptuous shakes in a cool retro setting. I’ve no doubt this place will be packed with Americans looking for a taste of their childhood.

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Brooklyn the Burger Joint is located at 540-11, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sinsa Station (line 3) and come out of exit 8. Walk straight and take the fourth road on the left (Garosugil). Walk on a block down Garosugil and take the first right, walk one more block and take the first left, you will see Brooklyn the Burger Joint just up ahead on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-545-0718. Brooklyn the Burger joint is open 24 hours a day.

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Namu Arae (Under the Tree) 나무아래

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Finding a good restaurant in Itaewon to dine in on a Monday night is like searching for a needle in haystack. For some time now Monday nights have been hailed as the industry day off, a time when the staff all across town can rest up after a hard week’s work and let their hair down. Well that’s all well and good for them, but where are the rest of us supposed to eat? (more…)

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Sponsored Post #UberIceCream

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There really isn’t much better than an ice cream on a hot summer’s day, except maybe ice cream that is delivered to your door at virtually no extra cost. Long gone are the days of the ice cream man bringing to you his delicious frozen creamy treats, but tomorrow, on Friday 24th of July  between 1pm -5pm, Uber will be delivering ice cream all over Seoul! . (more…)

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Naengmyeon – Korean Cold Noodles

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All summer long I’ve been craving one thing and one thing only, Naengmyeon. Naengmyeon is an incredibly popular summer time dish here that consists of starchy buck wheat noodles that are served in a mild vinegary soup with a boiled egg on top. Other than ice cream, ice cold noodles are the only thing to help you cool off in the sweat box that is Seoul during July & August. I was planning on going to a restaurant to get myself a bowl when I realized that it would be easy enough to give them a go myself. (more…)

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Soul Truck

After 3 years of living in HBC, a change was in order so me and The Fat Boyfriend have decided to move to the other side of the tracks to Gyeongridan. After a hard day’s work of hauling boxes I wasn’t really in the cooking mood, so one of my best buddies popped over and took us out for a much needed burger. Since it was right around the corned we figured we would check out one of the ever new restaurants Soul Truck.

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Blackberry Gin Fizz

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Cocktail hour is always a very important part of the day in the Fat Girl household. Nothing beats a delicious cocktail after a hard day’s work, especially if you can enjoy it up on your very own roof top. This cocktail came into being after I was desperate to make use of my blossoming thyme plant. Herb infused simple syrups can really take your cocktails up a notch, the thyme in this pairs perfectly with the gin and the blackberry, and since we had a bottle of fizz in the fridge we thought why not, though you could always try it with soda water if you are looking for something a bit lighter. (more…)

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