Category: Restaurant Reviews

Mangwon Food Crawl

Last weekend was absolutely beautiful and I used the good weather as an excuse to get out of the house and the hood to go and explore another part of this city I call home. For the best part of year I have been hearing wonderful things about the uber trendy neighbourhood Mangwon. Yet, despite it only being a 20 minute subway ride away, I always failed to get over there and check it out. For those not in the know, like I was, you are seriously missing out, this place is jam packed with cute and quirky cafes, stores, and restaurants. It’s kind of like what Haebangchon and Gyeongridan use to be like. The streets are quite spread out, but there is plenty to see once you head out of exit 2. I’ve listed five of my favourite places that we visited. though I’m sure there are thousands more to discover so I’ll be heading back soon to see what else there is.

We kicked off our morning with a coffee at Social Club Seoul. This is one of the coolest concept coffee shops I have ever come across, in the middle of the room is a giant table strewn with the detritus from a fancy dinner party. Think chandeliers and tea sets, then there’s a counter to the side where you order and they make the coffees. That’s it, they have simply built this in an old ripped out store front and people are going nuts for it. This place is selfie city, I think at one point every single person in the joint was taking one, myself included. I think the real draw to the place are their amazing, decadent, and delicious coffees. They have two signatures which we decided to try, and being an ice vanilla latte girl, I had to get the Short Cream Vanilla (6,000), while my girl Laura tried the Mocha on the Rock (6,000). Mine had ice cubes made from sweetened vanilla cream which just made it the most rich and decadent drink ever, while Laura’s mocha had coffee ice cubes and chocolate at the bottom, the more they melted the stronger it got. They were both pretty epic and it was just what we needed before heading to the next stop. One note, when we passed by again later in the day there was a definite queue so go before 12pm to avoid the crowds.  Social Club Seoul is located at 414-27 Mangwon-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul . Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

After coffee we were in need of breakfast so we headed to Sally Cheong to try one of her delightful fruit and yogurt bowls. I’m a healthy kind of girl (some of the time) so this was exactly what I was longing for. The menu is all in Korean but it is pretty easy to figure out. The bowls of yogurt come with different kinds of fruit and muesli and are adorably cute and only 6,000 won each. The yogurt is made in house and the fruits change with the season but there should at least be a couple of options available. As well as the yogurt and fruit bowls they also have plenty of drinks available, like some home made ades and a ginger milk. We had just enjoyed a coffee so didn’t partake but they looked great. Sally Cheong is located at 21 Worldcup-ro 23-gil Mapo-gu, Seoul . Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

Our next stop was Viva Salon (비바쌀롱), one of my followers tagged me in an Instagram post for this place and I couldn’t resist coming to see it. I mean look at the adorably cute Cookie Monster Latte, I am still living for it, almost a week later. Also pictured is the Coconut Smoothie topped with a rubber ducky. The whole cafe is toy themed and the place is decked out with all kinds of cute and kitsch paraphernalia. It’s a must see. The Cookie Monster Latte was 5,900 and really tasty, as was the Coconut Smoothie (5,800) though we did add a large splash or vodka to it to kick it up a notch. Viva Salon is located at 84 Poeun-ro, Mangwon 1(il)-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

After all those drinks we were ready for lunch and came across Happy Burger. The line was long but the smell coming from the kitchen was too much to resist, so we wrote our name down on the list and went to get ourselves another GS cocktail while we waited. In 20 minutes our table was free and we both got ourselves a big ass burger and a side of fries. The burgers here were pretty impressive. I got the Double Cheese Bacon Burger (8,500) which was topped with bacon, double cheese and caramelised onions. The bun came came slathered in their homemade garlic mayo which I adored. It was very moreish and the kind of burger you want to inhale. Laura opted the Arugula Burger (8,900) which was equally delish.  This was exactly what we needed after a few too many cocktails, and i will certainly be going again next time I visit. happy Burger is located at 414-83 Mangwon-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul. Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

Lastly, we took a stroll around Mangwon Market to burn off those burgers.  It’s a covered arcade style market with loads of different stalls selling street food , fresh meat, fruits, veggies and other bits and bobs. Living in Itaewon I don’t come across these traditional markets often so it was nice to see, and it’s amazing how cheap some of he prices were. At the end of the market are two famed croquette stalls which had crazy long lines. I was desperate to try one but didn’t have room after that massive burger but next time for sure. Mangwon Market is located at  411 Mangwon-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul. Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

+ 84 – Itaewon

Last week I got some very exciting news +84, a Vietnamese joint I love in Insadong, opened its second branch in Itaewon. What better way to celebrate than with a bowl of delicious Bun Cha. The restaurant is located in behind the main road on the Wolfhound road. They have taken over the spot which used to be occupied by Chinese dumpling place, Chungaeka Dumpling.

The new location is about 3 times bigger than the last one, which is good news to anyone who stood in line waiting to get in at the original. The menu has also grown considerably and quite a few new dishes have been added since my last visit. I should also note that some of the prices have gone up, though considering the size of the new restaurant and its location I am not surprised.

The first thing we ordered was a bowl of their delicious Bun Cha (11,000), as it’s my favourite Vietnamese dish. The bun cha is a sweet and sour kind of cold soup, which is stuffed with veggies and pieces of pork, it’s served with a pile of rice noodles on the side and a heap of salad. I was really excited to eat this again, but I’m not sure if it was quite so flavourful as last time, it was still pretty decent but the meat seemed a little different to me which may have affected the overall flavour. We did however enjoy the addition of the Vietnamese herbs, which we were told were imported and the reason for the price increase, which seems fair. As well as the bun cha, we also ordered a portion of the Fried Spring Rolls (6,000). These were were crispy and delicious, and the perfect side to eat along side the soup.

Being two very big eaters we also decided to get a Bahn Mi on the side. There are several varieties available but we got the grilled pork and lemon grass (7,000). The bread on this baby was excellent, not sure where it comes from but I need to find out! This is the bread that sandwich dreams are made of, it was lusciously crisp on the outside while being lovely and soft in the middle. The grilled pork had tonnes of flavour, and was topped with pickled veggies, sriracha, and a nice drizzle of mayo. This wasn’t the most traditional version on the menu but I liked it. You’d be hard pushed to find someone who’d be unhappy with one of these for lunch.

Overall I am pretty chuffed that +84 have come to party and am looking forward to trying more of the menu over the next few visits. They had only been open for a few days when I visited so I’m sure it will take them a little bit of time to tweak that bun cha until its perfect, but generally I see a lot of promise.

Plus 84 is located at 2F 61 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-Gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon station(line 6) and come out exit 4. Walk straight until you get to Dillinger’s and then take the stairs down to your left. Take a right at the bottom of the stairs and walk along that road. It is on your right hand side. for more information you can call them on 02-797-0838 or check out their facebook page. They are open everyday from 11:30 am -9:30pm.

Ryunique

It has been just over a year since I last visited Chef Ryu’s signature restaurant Ryunique in Sinsa. I have been to its sister restaurant Normal several times since, however it isn’t very often that I am lucky enough to enjoy a meal as sumptuous as the 20 course one here. When they released their new menu I was given the opportunity to go and give it a try. The signature dinner menu does not come cheap, at a cool 230,000 per person, but if you are looking for something really special that will knock your socks off, then this is it.

 

We arrived at the classically chic and inviting restaurant, and were greeted by the very friendly(and rather handsome) Maitre D.  I don’t want to reveal all the secrets that were unravelled, so I’m just going to share my favourite dish or two from each course. Our meal began with a series of amuse bouche courses. The amuse bouches were a real mix but of our four, that’s right four, my favourite was the mackerel which was charcoal cooked on the outside but raw and mixed with sour cream on the inside. It was served with wasabi powder that had been flash frozen in liquid nitrogen. The amuse bouche course finished with the most delightful Korean melon palette cleanser with mint and lime.

 

 

The mushroom course was the star appetizer for me. Served in two parts, the first being lions mane mushrooms that were a mixture of fresh and fried with little pipettes of white truffle mayo. Served along with the Lion’s Mane were the absolutely scrummy black truffle mushroom cookies. The second part of the dish was the fantastic soup. Topped with a mushroom crisp lid, this was a cloud of mushroomy foamy goodness, made even better by the little cheese bubble that melted when popped into the soup.

This season’s signature dish of quail came in two parts. First up was a garlic fed quail breast, which was encrusted with 10 mixed Korean grains, and a jus reduction of quail gravy on the side which was just magically intense(probably because it was made from an entire quail!). It was accompanied by a beetroot puree which added a splash of colour and hint of earthiness and finally the cutest little golden chicken which was made of of potato, to celebrate 2017, the year of the Rooster.

Part two was their fancy take on Samgyetang, one of my favourite Korean soups. Rather than the traditional cloudy broth typically associated with Samgyetang, this version is based on a consomme style clear broth, which was light and full of flavour. A quail leg wrapped in a mustard leaf and a deep fried quail egg sat perched upon a bed of noodles, sweet snap peas, and a mixture of fried and fresh ginseng. It was a great modern representation of a classic Korean dish.

After a series of other main courses, we finished with Chapter 2, a series of desserts, tea, coffee and petit fours. The favourite for us was the pastry chef’s signature dish Stone Texture, no prizes for guessing why. This dish consisted of mandarin ice cream coated in chocolate and black sesame powder, and caramelized chocolate pudding and pistachio. The rock like exterior really hid the soft sweet flavours inside and it was such a delightful surprise at the end of a wonderful meal.

Since my last visit, there have been even more Korean ingredients and elements added to the menu, the map given to us at the beginning of the meal showed us exactly where each of the dishes was sourced from, which I thought a nice touch. As always the creativity and time going into the food blows my mind and if you are looking for something truly special then Ryunique has a lot to offer. If the 230,000 won 20 course dinner is a bit rich for your blood, you may want to try their lunch menu instead which is half the size and price. You can also of course also visit Normal, which is their second, bistro style restaurant located just around the corner.

Ryunique is located at 520-1 SInsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sinsa Station(line 3) and come out of exit 8. Take the first left and then right and quickly left again. Walk about halfway down this road and turn left just before you hit Mr. Holmes Bakery. Ryunique is just 50 metres or so along this street on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-546-9279, or check out their website.

Mango Festival – Hilton Hotel

A food festival is always going to be music to my ears, so when I was invited to come and try the mango festival at the Hilton Hotel, well, I was very excited indeed, number one because I love mangoes and number two because mangoes generally cost an arm and a leg here. Fruit themed buffets are really popular at the hotels here in Korea, and with strawberry season being over and Spring in the air, it is time for mangoes to take centre stage.

I would best describe the event as a mango themed afternoon tea. It costs 45,000 per person which includes access to the buffet for two hours, either 2:30-4:30, or 5:00 – 7:00, and all the mango tea and juice you can drink. The mango festival is located inside the lobby of the hotel rather than in one of their restaurants. Personally I quite enjoyed watching the hordes of guests going by as I’m quite partial a bit of people watching, whereas my friend didn’t appreciate it so much. I guess it depends on whether you like everyone looking at you or not, which I clearly do.

Once we had settled in and enjoyed a relaxing cup or two of tea it was time to check out the food. There was certainly quite a wide array of different sweet goods and a couple of savoury options. There are too many to mention but off the top of my head there were cronuts, mousse, tiramisu, tarts, meringue pie, macarons, vol a vents, cheesecakes, and ice cream. There were also of a couple of savoury options of meat balls and chicken legs which seemed like a bit of an afterthought.

There was plenty to choose from and we ended up trying most of the different items. To me the stand outs were the freshly fried Namsan Cronuts. There was a chef doing a demonstration of how to make them so these were fresh as can be. The cronuts were filled with mango creme patissiere and covered with mango frosting and a fresh strawberry. Being a child of the 80s I was also very happy to see a mango chicken vol a vent, I certainly ate more than my fair share.  I also really enjoyed the slices of fresh mango that were served at the chocolate fountain, I just wish they had more things to dip into it besides the fruit.

In regards to the rest of the offerings I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed. While I thought they offered a good selection of different desserts, they didn’t really do it in terms of flavour for me. They all looked pretty enough, but I would have enjoyed them sweeter and with a more intense mango flavour. I assume that their target audience is Koreans who don’t tend to like their desserts quite so sweet, but for me it was a bit of a miss. I left the buffet before my time was up, which unfortunately kind of says it all.

The Millennium Hilton is located at 50, Sowol-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Seoul Station (lines 1 & 4) and come out of exit 11. Follow the road around and take the third left, then walk straight. you will see the Millennium Hilton on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-753-7788, or visit their website.

WinK – Brunch

Last weekend I headed over to Wink in Gyodae to check out the Southside boys’ Surfside Pop Up. While I was there I figured I might as well eat some brunch too, that and I was slightly concerned I’d end up getting shit faced if I didn’t. Cocktails on an empty stomach never bodes well for me, so to make sure I didn’t get too carried away on Sunday Funday I ordered about half the menu.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it isn’t brunch without Eggs Benedict. Luckily WinK offers several different varieties all priced at 9,900. I was really torn as they all sounded delicious but in the end the avocado version which comes with pico de gallo was my choice. As you can see from the video above the eggs were absolutely perfect, there was plenty of avocado and a nice generous salad on the side. My only gripe is that there was no hollandaise. The other three versions come with a creamy sauce, but if you are picky about such things you’ve been warned.

Being a fried chicken lover I also had to get the fried chicken topped french toast (15,500), too. A big slab of crispy fried chicken was mounted upon a fluffy piece of french toast. If you are really wanting an extra unhealthy southern style breakfast then this is it. We poured all the the accompanying maple syrup on top and I have to say it was pretty damned good. I love a sweet and salty combo, and the crispiness of the chicken was a nice comparison to the pillowy texture of the french toast. It’s a touch on the pricey side but very filling so you could possibly share it, though I don’t think you’d want to.

Lastly I tried the Mushroom & Emmental Burger (11,500).  This came topped with four kinds of mushrooms, a slathering of melted Emmental, red onion, and lettuce with Dijon mustard. I’ve always really liked the Wink burgers and this one was no exception. I love me some mushrooms, especially with cheese so it was a winning combination to me, the only change I’d make would be to swap out the lettuce for some rocket to make it a bit more peppery. It got a big mmm when I bit into it though.

Overall I was very impressed with my WinK brunch, my friend has been trying to drag me there to try it for an age now and sheer laziness has prevented me from going. The food was really good, and is definitely worth the trip across town. They also offer a bottomless brunch on weekends, which is quite rare in Seoul. I was there to try the Southside cocktails, but I shall certainly be giving it a try on my next visit.

WinK is located at 2F, 1576-6, Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Seoul National University of Education (lines 2 & 3). Come out of exit 14 and walk straight, WinK is about 100 meters down the street on the second floor. For more information you can call them on 02-6053-3429 or check out their facebook page.

Gony’s

I think we all know how I enjoy a burger or four, but you might also know how picky I am. And how I often struggle to find burgers I truly  love in Seoul. Some time ago, an old friend recommended Gony’s to me, but the fact it was located across the city put me off giving it a try. Well last weekend I was in the neighbourhood and couldn’t resist giving it a try. The restaurant is located a stop or two away from Wangsimni at Ttukseom Resort station. This neighbourhood actually has some cool stuff happening, as we were walking around looking for it we passed a bakery with a queue I haven’t seen since the glory days of the churros, considering it was raining at the time it was very impressive, but I digress. We were on our way to Gony’s for a banging burger.

The spot is really cute and has a couple of seats outside, and plenty more large benches and booths inside. The menu is actually quite sizeable, well the Korean version is, the English one is probably in need of updating. We were a rather big group so we were able to take full advantage of it. There are a handful of beef burgers, some chicken burgers and other side dishes, and milkshakes. They also had beers and what looks like a reasonably stocked bar if you like a side of shitfaced with your burger.

I had to try the Bacon Cheeseburger (9,800). I was very tempted to go for the double, but thought I should stick with the single to really test their muster. Homemade brioche buns are pretty much a standard requirement these days, but I was glad to see they had them. This burger was simply topped with bacon, american cheese, lettuce and tomato. There was definitely a small mmm when I bit into it and I was certainly satisfied. The meat was well seasoned, and all in all I really couldn’t fault it. It would certainly be in my top 5 burgers in Seoul.

As well as the the beef burgers here were a handful of chicken burgers on the menu too, so we ordered the Mexican Chicken Burger (12,800). To me this was really a stand out, the breading was insanely crispy, and the chicken inside  was tender and juicy. Good hamburgers are ten a penny now but its rare to find a chicken burger as good as this. There were a handful of variations of it, I’d love to try the coleslaw version next time.

Being a large group we also decided to indulge in a portion of the Chili cheese fries (12,000). I’m always of the opinion that if you are going to have fries you might as well eat them slathered in chili and cheese. These ones had lots of fresh chilies strewn throughout making them a touch on he hot side for my milky taste buds. But there was plenty of chili though, making them nice and wet. On the cheese front however it was more of a cheese sauce than actual cheese

Lastly we tried the Original Chicken and Rice (7,800). I think it is really well documented on this blog how much I love chicken and rice, so when I saw this on the menu I had to see how it compared. Different from Jil Hal Bros, or Halal Guys, but in the same ball park. For this one the chicken is deep fried chunks of butter milk fried chicken, which was really nice. The rice is Korean style, coloured yellow, which I could live with, topped with spicy sauce and white sauce. It was not a bad representation and if I lived in that neighbourhood I’d be happy enough with it being the only version available locally.

Overall I was very impressed, and if you live nearby it is a must try,k and if you don’t it is still worth the trip over there if you a burger fanatic. Gony’s has a motto printed all over the place “life is too short to eat shitty things,” and I have to say that I concur.

Gony’s is located at 108 Wangsimni-ro, Seongsu 1(il)-ga 2(i)-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul.  To get there take a train to Ttukseom Station (line 2) and come out of exit 7. Take the right that is just by the exit and walk straight, then take the next right. Gony’s is just at the end of this street on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 070-4127-0423 or check out their facebook page.

RMonster Del Mare

Last week a very charming young man invited to me out to one of his good friend’s restaurants. I don’t usually make a habit of going on dates with men who aren’t my boyfriend, but the cupboards were pretty bare that week and a girl’s gotta eat. When he told me the theme of the restaurant I was a bit skeptical but after looking at the menu online, I thought the place had promise, so agreed to give it a go. From the outside the place really doesn’t look like much, but once you go inside it is very charming. The entry wall is stuffed with lobster paraphernalia, a la American vintage style seaside town that you went to on your summer vacations. While inside is a mix of wood and brick, making it modern and chic at the same time.

Since we were guests of the proprietor all the food was chosen for us, but we did get to choose our own wine. Being the classy group that we are, we of course selected the cheapest which turned out to be a very nice Chardonnay (25,000). This was actually a really drinkable white, and not being much of a wine drinker I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. It was so nice in fact we ended up drinking two bottles.  The bottles on the rest of the menu are mostly around the 35,000 mark so the chardonnay really was quite a bargain.

After we had settled in with a glass of vino our first dish turned up, which was the Truffle mac & Cheese (7,000). Not only did this look amazing it tasted good too, lots of creamy cheese sauce and oodles of melted cheese on top. It was a little light on the truffle oil for me, but overall it had a nice flavour. It was especially good towards the end when we threw in some of the lobster meat with it, a winning combination if ever there was one.

Not long after we had dug into the mac and cheese, an enormous wooden platter filled with lobsters turned up. I kinda couldn’t believe this was all for us, it was pretty magical. The Cheese Stuffed Whole Lobster (78,000), is a speciality of the restaurants. At first I was a little uncertain at first, I mean cheese and lobster, but why the hell not? I have never had melted cheese on my lobster before but I certainly wasn’t opposed to it. I found that the tail meat was a bit on the tough side but the claws were glorious, the slightly salty meat was moist, tender, and melted in the mouth. The lobsters came served with a good spicy mayo aioli thing, and a very dubious looking cabbage topped with mayo and corn, which we pretty much ignored.

By the time the lobster was eaten you’d have thought we would be done but out comes a sizzling pan of Meat (38,000). Ours was a double potion so you usually get two lamb chops, one steak and two sausages. The stand out to me was the homemade sausage, man were these good, slightly spicy, full of flavour, if they sold these deli style I would buy them in a heartbeat. The lamb chops were delicious, though overcooked for my taste, as was the steak, it’s good meat so if you like it more on the rare side then be sure to let them know when ordering. Again the sauces on the side were a nice selection, a BBQ type gravy, mint jelly and mustard. Again this was a lot of food for the price and I can’t imagine anyone being unhappy, we were all stuffed by the time the meat was finished.

Overall I didn’t have the best expectations going in and so I was pleased to have them exceeded. The food was tasty and filling and considering the kind of ingredients I think very fairly priced. I’d certainly go back again. They are launching a new menu this week, which includes all the dishes we tried. So if you are looking for something a little bit different or are in the mood for a cheese stuffed lobster then head on down to Itaewon.

RMonster Del Mare is located at 127-6 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul . To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (line 6) and come out of exit 3. walk straight, you will see R Monster Del Mar just ahead of you after the police station on the second floor. For more information you can call them on 010-2758-1558 or check out their facebook page. They are open everyday from 11:30am – 2am.

Itaewon Gogit Jip

I have been meaning to write a review of this place ever since the HBC branch shut down. It was a sad sad day in HBC when the gogit jip closed it doors for the final time. However just up the street in Itaewon is actually a bigger and better location. Its pretty much the same deal as the HBC branch an all you can eat meat extravaganza of Korean BBQ for 16,900 won per person. As you can see below you have 90 minutes to eat as much meat as you can, though this is more than ample. You should also remember to bring cash or pay 1,500 extra for using a card.

Being a total greedy guts the all you can eat offering lights up my world, I can eat until my jeans are straining and my belly begs me stop. The place is huge for starters, making it perfect for large groups, plus the all you can eat option makes it a hell of a lot easier when it comes to splitting the bill. It is also ideal for newbies as can try all the different cuts of meat without the bill spiralling out of control. The place sadly no longer offers its all you can drink beer for 5,000 which is a shame but the beer and soju are cheap enough that you can frivolously add a few bottles on to your tab.

Depending on the size of your party your be deposited a wooden board or two with a selection of meats. Personally I rather enjoy this because you get a bit of everything but if you want to stick to one cut then you can do that too. It usually varies from visit to visit and I’m assuming on the price of the meat but this time  we got rib eye, samgyubsal, moksal,cheek, and some other bit which we couldn’t quite figure out. You can also help yourself to banchan(side dishes), the waitress will bring the first round but after that you get it yourself. In regards to sides they have a fair selection with the obligatory kimchi, beansprouts, chillies, onions, garlic, spicy pickled lotus root (which I’m kind of obsessed with), salad, and all the samjang you can eat.

My favourite meat of the selection it is probably the ribeye, which we always have first, probably because its the quickest to cook and we always starving by the time we arrive. Thrown on the hot coals were two huge slabs of steak. While it isn’t going to be the best quality steak you’ve ever eaten it will certainly satisfy your carnivorous cravings.

After the beef had been devoured we worked our way on to the pork cuts. My favourite is the pork belly (samgyupsal) because I like a fatty cut but we were also given galburisal (cheek) which we really enjoyed. The pork is perfect for turning into lettuce wraps when topped with samjang and all the accompanying vegetables. Kind of like a Korean take on a DIY taco.

After that if you aren’t full you can order more of whatever you like which is usually ribeye. They also have quite an array of side dishes which you can pay extra for. Personally I’d rather skip the rice and soup and have more meat but if you can’t live without your bap or jiggae you can order it on the side. The place tends to get pretty busy on weekends so try and arrive as early as possible left you find yourself in a big queue. However there are plenty of good bars near by so you can always grab yourself a drink while you wait.

Itaewon Gogit Jip is located at 9 Itaewon-ro 19-gil Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon station (line 6) and come out of exit 1. Walk straight, and take the first right after KFC. Walk to the end of the until you reach the road which runs parallel to the main road. Then turn left and walk to the very end of the alley way. You will see HBC Gogitjip just up ahead in the alleyway next to Grill 5 taco on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-3785-0514. They are open everyday from 6pm onwards.

Bao Bar

Despite the cold weather and slow season, new restaurants have been popping up in the hood left right and centre. One of these newbies is Bao Bar, a restaurant located above Nori Table, and Gino’s Pizzeria which is specialising in serving bao buns. As a new spot they invited me along to come and give their menu a try and after seeing some of their food online I really couldn’t resit. The new spot is located on the third floor of the hottest new building in town. Despite it only being finished at the end of last year the place already houses four restaurants, so I’m guessing the rent must be a total bargain (yeah right). The restaurant itself is small but light and airy thanks to the huge floor to ceiling windows taking up one side. The kitchen runs along another wall so you can see what’s going on in there too. The menus come on iPads which I always think is pretty darn cool, but if you are a bit of a technophobe it’s also on a chalk board.

The first item I tried was the Pork Bao (4,900). This little beauty was stuffed with braised pork belly, peanut powder, coriander, and pickled cucumber. This is the most classic version I feel, and very similar to the bao buns I have tasted elsewhere. As soon as I bit into it a loud and resounding Mmm was heard. It may not be very scientific but this is how I like to judge my food, and If it makes me groan with pleasure then its usually a good sign. The pork belly was melt in the mouth and worked perfectly with the other ingredients. It was the ideal mix of sweet, salty and sour. The size is fairly decent and there is plenty of meat inside, you order them in pairs so two should leave you reasonably satisfied, though if you are as greedy as me you may want four.

At the moment there are currently only two bao buns on offer, the other being  the Truffle Bao (4,900). This baby was stuffed with mushrooms, parmesan cheese and truffle oil. Again this bao bun was delicious, another total orgasmic Mmm was heard. I honestly would be hard pushed to pick which one I liked more. Nothing gets me going like buttery mushrooms and truffle oil and throw in some parmesan and you have yourself a partay! If you are a fan of mushrooms then this one is a must try. There are a couple more baos on the menu that are set to come soon, including a fried chicken and a spicy lamb which i am dying to try, but so far so good on the baos!

The menu is not just bao buns,  they have a couple of asian salads, pasta dishes, and this delicious Buttermilk fried Chicken (18,500). The crispy fried chicken is coated in their own signature sauce which is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. The chicken is a mix of wings and boneless pieces which I really liked and the portion is ample. Our only note was that we would like a creamy dip on the side for dipping, and they obliged us with a small pot of their Caesar salad dressing, which worked quite well.

Lastly we had to try the Truffle Fries (7,500), I mean who can resist fries topped with parmesan cheese and truffle oil. These were pretty much as good as they looked, totally nommy. Crispy and tasty, and a nice flavour of truffles throughout. My companion said she may even like them more than the ones at another of our favourite restaurants, and that is really saying something.

Bao Bar is still a new restaurant but my experience was great, the atmosphere is chilled and laid back and the food was absolutely delicious. Its so great to see that we are getting new food items in the city and I can see bao buns being a big hit with both Koreans and expats. The menu is only going to expand over time so if you are hankering after some yummy buns of meaty goodness go pay them a visit.

Bao Bar is located at 3F 455-47 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6) and exit using the lift. Walk over the bridge and then take a right, follow the road around and you will see Gino’s Pizzeria just ahead on the corner above Nori Table. Walk around the corner past the Gino’s entrance and walk up the stairs and take the lift up to the third floor. For more information you can call them on 02-6012-0780 or check out their facebook page. They are closed on Mondays and open for lunch from 12pm-3pm and for dinner from 5:30pm – 10pm. 

Morococo Cafe

Moroccan restaurant Casablanca in Haebangchon is pretty widely regarded as serving Seoul’s best sandwich, if not the world’s. If you have still yet to try it, then stop whatever you are doing right now and go give it a try, you will not be disappointed. Due to its popularity the tiny restaurant has expanded year after year, along with the menu.  However owning one restaurant was clearly not enough to the Moroccan brother duo who started the place and they have since cast their net a little wider to include a second location, which is located just across the street in fact.

The new Morococo Cafe has an entirely different menu than flagship store Casablanca. As the restaurant has only been open for about two weeks they are still in their soft opening phase, so the menu is still quite tiny. Since there are only three dishes on the menu and two sides, we figured it would be churlish not to give everything a try. We also decided to get ourselves a glass each of wine, because at 5,000 a glass, why the hell not!

We started the meal with the Carrot Salad (5,000). As salads go this one is pretty banging, if you’ve ever had the carrot salad across the street this is a jazzed up version. The fabulous spice marinated carrots are topped with prunes, toasted almonds and feta cheese, it’s unbelievable, especially for the price. All the flavours and textures just work so well together.  If they were open for lunch this is what I would be eating every day.

After the salad we moved on to the main course of Lemon Chicken & Green Olives (11,000). This isn’t my first time tasting this dish, I was lucky enough to try it at pop up event they hosted a few years back. For me this was the star dish of the evening. The tender slow cooked chicken effortlessly fell of the bone and was full of so much flavour, the salty olives complimented the dish perfectly and it was served with freshly baked Moroccan Bread (2,000) to sop up all the left over juices. There wasn’t a speck left in my dish by the time I was finished with it, it was absolutely heavenly.

Four our second main we got the Lamb Kefta Tagine (11,000). Not too dissimilar to the Lamb Shakshuka on the menu across the street. Little lamb meatballs were cooked in tasty spiced tomato sauce, and served with an egg yolk in the middle. This is exactly what you want to be eating right now, warm and filling without being in the slightest bit heavy. If you are a big eater you may want to add a side of their delicious spiced rice too.

Overall I was thrilled with the new Morococo Cafe. The new place exudes just as much warmth and hospitality as Casablanca, and the new menu items are really well priced and flavourful. It’s the perfect week night date spot, or weekend for that matter. I can’t wait to see what else they will add to the menu once they are fully open. I heard a rumour on the grape vine that there may be a lamb shank dish coming soon, which is very exciting indeed as you can never have too much lamb.

Morococo Cafe is located at 45-9 Yongsan-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong station (line 6). Walk straight out of exit 2 for about 200 meters and take the first left and walk straight along the road with all the kimchi pots. Keep walking straight along this street past Phillies. You will see Morococo Cafe a little further up on the right hand side opposite Casablanca. For more information you can call them on 010-4228-8367 or check out their facebook page. They are open from 5pm – 9pm everyday, except Mondays.