1981 is yet another new restaurant to hit the Itaewon scene. They just had their grand opening a few weeks ago, and knowing that it was owned by the lovely folks who brought us Left Coast, I couldn’t wait to give it a try, so I rounded up my posse and went to check it out.
The new restaurant is located in the same building as Brick Yard and Sugar Daddy making it perfect as you can grab dinner, a drink, and dessert all without leaving the building! The food at 1981 is themed as Asian Comfort food, a nice mix of all your favourite dishes from around the continent, with a modern Korean twist.
We kicked off the night with some of their special home infused soju. I’ve been a fan of infusing my own booze for forever now and in my opinion soju really needs a helping hand in making it delcious. The flavours change on a regular basis but we tried the Earl Grey, Apple, and Chili. My favourite of the three was the Earl Grey, but the boys all preferred the Chili one. While I enjoyed the soju I thought it was a touch on the pricey at 12,000 a bottle, unless the soju that is used to make is a little more luxurious than the regular kind.
After scanning the menu the first dish to jump out at me was the Mongolian Seafood Chow Mein (12,500). Chow Mein is one of my absolute favourite noodle dishes, so I was very keen to give it a try. There was a good mix of shrimp, squid, vegetables, and noodles. I really enjoyed the sauce and thought the portion was a decent size. It came with extra chilli flakes too for those who like it with a little more heat, I’d definitely order this one again.
There are two chicken dishes on the menu and since there were four of us we decided to get both of them. The first one to come out was the OG Style (15,500). Pieces of fries chicken in a light and crispy batter smothered with a sweet and spicy sauce. We all loved this one and the plate was empty in seconds. The home made pickles on the side were a nice touch too.
The second chicken dish was the supposed to be Lemon Style (15,500) but they didn’t have that and had a Japanese Karaage style battered chicken instead. We loved this one too and it was hard to say which one we preferred The simplicity of this with the sweet soy dip and crispy batter was just lovely.
As well as the noodles we ordered the Pad See Ew Fried Rice (12,500). An odd name as pad see ew is normally noodles but anyhow this one was mixed with beef, and had a little heat to it. There were plenty of vegetables on the side too. While I do love fried rice, I have to confess that this dish didn’t really do it for me, there just seemed to be a little something lacking in the taste department, especially compared to the Chow Mein which was outstanding.
The last dish we tried was the Oriental Chicken Salad (12,500). This one was given to us as service, probably as they were concerned how drunk we might have been after all that soju. The crispy fried noodles were my favourite part along with the light asian style dressing. Fresh and tasty it’s a good option for those who don’t want to eat fried food.
Overall I like where 1981 is going. They are offering something a little bit different from the rest of the Itaewon crowd and there are some very tasty modern dishes on the menu. It’s also open to 2am on weekends, which is perfect for when you have those late night munchies.
1981 is located at B1F, 118-5, Itaewon dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon station (line 6) and come out of exit 1. Walk straight until you reach the third alleyway on the right. Walk straight past the CU and Belgrade up the hill until you reach a black and grey new building on the left just opposite the car park. 1981 is located in the basement of that building. For more information you can call them on 010-9976-2381 or check out their facebook page. They are open from 6pm -1am Wednesday & Thursday, 6pm -2am Friday & Saturday and 6pm – 12am on Sundays.