Category: Restaurant Reviews

궈일교자

January is almost always a very bleak month. It’s cold and miserable, you’ve failed your new health kick after a week and a half, and everyone is broke after spending too much money at Christmas. Honestly there really isn’t a whole lot to look forward to unless you are going to Cambodia for a week like I am tomorrow (please don’t hate me!). Despite these rather depressing conditions, the restaurant scene around Itaewon is still popping, with a whole host of new restaurants  opening their doors in the past few weeks.

Now one such place that has opened up in Gyeongridan is 궈일교자 . This new restaurant popped up overnight in a spot that used to host a 7-11. It’s not surprising that the minuscule 7-11 bit the dust as there are much larger convenience stores in spitting distance. The front portion of the tiny store is made up of the kitchen which boasts big towers of steamers to help lure in the crowds looking for shelter from the biting cold. At the back of the store is some counter style seating for the best part of a dozen patrons.

The menu like the store itself is pretty simple. There are  half a dozen different types of mandu, along with a few large ones and two different typoes of noodles. Honestly it was the cheap prices that lured me in, as they agreed with my new frugal sensibilities. Being in desperate need of iron in my diet I went for the BBQ Dumplings (3,000 for 6). The dumplings were stuffed with galbi and galbi sauce, which I had never eaten in dumpling form before. The meat was sweet and tasty, and they paired nicely with the free pickled radish.

We also tried the meat dumplings (2,500 for 8). These were pretty much your bog standard gogi mandu that you could buy frozen and make yourself at home. They were possibly a touch fancier than that and did taste pretty great when dipped into the accompanying vinegar. If you don’t fancy cooking these are a nice cheap and cheerful option.

As it was so cold and I was in the mood for soup so we also got the Udon (4,000). This was alright, honestly the broth was fairly unmemorable but the noodles were filling. At least the price is right. There were some other dumplings on the menu that I’d be more likely to try over these if I came again.

Honestly I cant say that this place was that amazing and if you are looking for standout dumplings you’d be better going to Stacked. The bbq galbi dumplings were tasty enough though, and I would probably pick myself up a to go order from time to time as it’s right by my house. Its real draw is its prices, mandu plus some soup for about 6,000, you can’t say fairer than that, though of course you can find similar places in neighbourhoods all over Korea, just rarely in ours, and for that alone it is worth a mention.

궈일교자 is located at 225-68 Itaewon2-dong, yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight until you reach the underpass, then go through and exit using the stairs on the left hand side. Follow the road around passing the church and Well Being mart. You will see 궈일교자 just up ahead on the right hand side after Cheese-a-lot. They don’t currently have a phone number so I can’t give any more information.

Jungsik Bar

Happy New Year one and all. I’ve started this year at rather a slow pace, quite frankly I have barely had the energy to get out of bed let alone write my blog, but we all deserve a break now and again and this post should make up for it.  Jungsik has been on my list of places to try for a number of years now, its modern Korean cuisine has been particularly well regarded and it recently even received a coveted Michelin star when the new Korean guide came out. While the list has been questioned by many, Jungsik seems to be hailed as one of the most deserving. However thanks to the extra boost of popularity the star has given it, the place is now rather hard to get a table at.

So when TFB offered to take me out on a little date night to celebrate our 8 year anniversary, Jungsik was one of my first suggestions, however at short notice the place was understandably fully booked on a Friday night. Luckily we were informed that the bar offers some of the same food, so after looking it up online we decided to give it a try. For those who can ill afford a pricey four course dinner, or just can’t seem to get a reservation, the bar on the first floor is a port in a storm. The bar menu is split into two parts, the bar menu, and the ‘classic menu’ which is made of up of  special vintage dishes that have been the restaurant’s signatures over the years. The dishes come in three sizes, bite size, small, and regular. I especially liked the idea of the bar offering the most popular dishes from the past few years, it’s the perfect way to keep the restaurant menu fresh and innovative while still giving regular patrons a chance to eat their favourites.

It being a bar and all we decided to get a drink. The emphasis here is on wine, they have a very large menu and a selection of wine machines which allow you to try as much or as little of the wine as you would like. At the very knowledgeable sommelier’s recommendation we decided to try a flight of Natural Wines (50,000). Natural wines are made without chemicals and as little technological processing as possible and Jung Sik has over 60 varieties. On the flight, there were two whites and two reds. Of the four wines included, my favourite was the Detorri Bianco, while TFB favoured the Il Frappato. The flight allowed wive novices such as ourselves to try more of a variety than if we had just had a glass each.

After browsing the bar menu we opted for the octopus dish Pulpo a la Gallega (20,000 Small). This was the medium sized plate which was perfect for us to share,  but they also have a larger or bite size portion available which you can pair with the wine sips if you are super into the wine pairing thing. I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten proper octopus before and was shocked at how large the tentacles were. I’m sure I have only eaten the baby version so was pleasantly surprised at how it had such a meaty texture. With the paprika spiced potatoes this dish seemed to be very Spanish, probably due to the flavours and the tapas style serving size. For someone like myself, who is not really a huge seafood lover, this dish really impressed me, and I soon found myself fighting over the last bite.

As well as the octopus we got the 2009 Crispy Pork (30,000 Small). Belly pork when done right is one of my absolute favourite meals in the world and this one was exquisite. The meat was so juicy and tender, while the top side remained nice and crisp. On top were pickled chillies which added a nice heat without being in the slightest bit overbearing. The dish went to a whole new level of deliciousness when I tried the pork with the mash and the wilted Korean garlic leaf(명이나물). I’ve never had that particular leaf before but it went so perfectly with the pork in a truly subtle and heavenly way. I just wish their had been so much more of it.

Having had a really small taste of this place has only left me wanting more. There are so many more dishes i would have loved to have tried so I am definitely going to be going back. Their lunch menu is incredibly reasonable and almost half the price of the dinner menu despite the fact the food is the same so I think I’ll start there and save dinner for those who have deeper pockets than me. The restaurant only takes reservations up to a month in advance, so if you find due to the new starring the place is booked, you will not have to wait so long until you can give it a try, or you can always get a table at the bar like we did.

Jung Sik Bar is located at 11 Seollungro 158-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Apgujeong Rodeo (yellow line) and come out of exit 4. Walk straight for one block and then turn left. The restaurant is on your left hand side, and the bar part is the first floor. For more info/reservations you can call them on +82 2 517 4654, or visit their website.

Gino’s Pizzeria

Almost a year ago to the day, Gino’s New York Style Pizza opened its doors here in Itaewon and a mere 365 days later later they are opening up a second location right across the street. The new location is set to be a slice shop and to help with their vast and numerous take out orders. The original location became wildly popular after featuring in a a bunch of TV spots which kept a steady queue of customers at its doors but made locals feel unwanted.  The new shop has seating / standing room for half a dozen or so customers but come springtime there will be outdoor seats available. The joint is the kind of eat and go place, if you want to have a leisurely lunch then head back to the original across the street.

After perusing the menu and the display case we ordered a Plain Cheese (4,000). Very simple, but hits the spot perfectly. A bit pricier than some of the other plain cheeses slices around but its certainly tastier, and almost as good as the full size pizza. I can imagine being very happy munching on one of these babies when I’ve had a few too many drinks on a Friday night. We also got the new Grandma Slice (6,000), a Sicilian style slice with a thicker more robust crust, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. This one was also delicious and a nice variation from the ultra thin slices.  Owner Euguene told me they still have a couple of kinks to work out to make sure customers are getting fresh slices and they aren’t throwing too many away but on the whole I think its perfect for anyone looking for a quick snack at this end of town.

Also new to the menu are a selection of  calzones. I couldn’t resist getting the Chicken Alfredo Calzone (12,000) as its one favourite pizza toppings across the street. The golden dough was stuffed with mozzarella, breaded chicken, spinach, mushrooms, red onion, alfredo sauce and ricotta. It was heavenly especially as it came with extra sauce on the side. A tad on the expensive side for lunch but nice for a treat.They also have a couple parmesan sandwiches on the menu which looked good but I didn’t have the room for.

Along with the slices, sandwiches, and calzones the store will also be serving Lala Milkmade’s delicious ice cream. I’ve been a huge fan of Jen and her frozen treats since when had a shop called Ellay’s in Seochon. She has since opened another store in Gyeongbukgong trading under the name LA LA Milkmaid. The ice cream we tried was the Jameson’s Bacon, and the Guinness & Chocolate (4,500). Both ice creams were deliciously rich and creamy, but I’d have to give the edge to the Jamesons & bacon just because it had the sweet and salty pairing I love so much. I believe there are also another couple of flavours on the menu too, well worth a try even if it is freezing outside.

 

Gino’s Pizzeria is having its grand opening today (December 31st) and to celebrate will be selling 1,000won plain cheese slices, 2,000won pepperoni slices, 1,000won cups of blue point toasted lager, 1,000won jarritos, and 1000won ice creams from Lala milkmaid (one slice per customer). The doors open at 12pm on December 31st, get there early or very late as I’m sure there will be one hell of a queue. What better way to ring in the new year than with a cheap, tasty slice of pizza.

Gino’s Pizzeria is located at 455-47 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6) and exit using the lift next to thew shop. 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. For more information you can call them on  02-790-2235 or check out their facebook page. Ginos will be open from 12:00pm – 10:00pm Tue-Sun. 

Boccalino – Brunch

Christmas is a time for giving and sharing, but its also a time to spoil yourself rotten. After slaving away in the kitchen and preparing a huge traditional feast on Christmas Eve I was ready for a break on Christmas Day. So what better way to relax than with a free flow prosecco brunch at Boccalino in the Four Seasons Hotel. Eating at Italian restaurant Boccalino earlier in the year was one of the best meals I’ve eaten in 2016, so I knew they’d come up with the goods for a special Christmas celebration.

Boccalino is on the second floor of the stunningly beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in Gwanghwamun. As soon as we walked through the doors it was beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. The hotel was filled with elegant decorations and huge Christmas trees decorated with cute Cartier ornaments. The whole places exudes luxury in a very modern way, and each of the four restaurants inside are stunningly beautiful.

The brunch at Boccalino costs 125,000 if you are going free flow (and why the hell wouldn’t you!), or 90,000 with a single glass. You then are then given a menu which allows you to choose between a starter, main course and dessert. I believe the menu changes regularly but our choices were mushroom risotto or prawn linguine, hanwoo sirloin or half lobster, and apricot tart or raspberry vanilla mouse. You also have access to a very large and well stocked antipasto bar.

It being Christmas and all, the first thing we did after sitting down was chug a glass of prosecco each. The prosecco we were served was fantastic, crisp and clean and very easy to drink, possibly too easy. This was clearly not a cheap bottle, it was one of the nicest I’ve had in some time I only wish I’d taken a picture of the bottle so I could buy some for home. After a glass or 3 of bubbly we headed over to the anti pasto bar. This had a lot more than I had anticipated. There was a selection of seafood, (crab legs, oysters, mussels and scallops), a much smaller choice than what they offer downstairs at Market Kitchen but more than ample in my eyes. There was also a nice array of salads, including steak salad, caprese, tuna, couscous, and pasta. On the other side were cured meats, a big selection of cheese, dips, freshly baked bread and the softest focaccia I’ve had in a long time. The item that I could not get enough of was the truffle mushroom dip. It was my idea of food heaven and I honestly could not stop eating it. I think I almost considered filling my handbag with it so i could take it home it was so addictive. But luckily for the restaurant and my new handbag I refrained. We made more than a few trips to stock up on our favourite items throughout the meal and I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with the selection.

No sooner had we finished our antipasto and bubbly, when out came the pasta course. I went for the mushroom risotto, while TFB did the Shrimp linguine. Having only 2 choices made it perfect to decide as we each just got one of each course. Mushroom risotto is one of my favourite dishes, but honestly I found this one a touch bland which was slightly disappointing, the freshly made seafood linguine was much better. We were also given a bowl of pumpkin soup that I felt was too sweet and probably there to please to the Korean patrons.

For our main we had a steak and a lobster. The Boston half lobster which was served with herb butter and bread crumbs was plenty after the other courses. The lobster inside was very plump and tasty. The Hanwoo sirloin came a top pureed potato and was served with wild rocket, shaved parmesan, and a balsamic reduction. The steak was also tender and delicious. Not as good as the one we previously enjoyed here in the evening, but very nice and much better than the first course.

For dessert we enjoyed a raspberry and vanilla mousse with a forest berry sorbet and pistachio macaron, and an apricot and chocolate tart. It was hard to choose which of these was best, they were both delightful in their own way so just get both, you wont regret it.  We also finished with a round of coffee which I always think is necessary after a big meal. I enjoyed a lovely cappuccino and a peppermint tea to help me digest the epic meal I’d just consumed.

Overall I really enjoyed my brunch at Boccalino. The selection is probably a quarter of the size of what your’d get downstairs at Market Kitchen, but there are plenty of high end items on the anti pasto bar that will make up for that and the free flow option really swung it for me. The prosecco was delicious and I’m sure I had a good two bottles just to myself. As it was Christmas it was lovely for a treat and I’d certainly go again if I was celebrating something special. If you have made no plans for New Year’s Day it would be the perfect place to celebrate 2017.

Boccalino is located on the second floor of The Four Seasons Hotel, 97 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Gwanghwamun Station (line 5) and come out of exit 7.  Walk straight and cross over the street, you should see the hotel in front of you. For more information you can call them on 02-6388-5000, or check out their website

Nori Table

Earlier this week I went off to try the latest restaurant to hit the Itaewon scene, Nori Table. The new sushi joint  is a passion project of the creative team behind KoMex place, Coreanos. The lack of LA style sushi in the city left them wanting and in the end they decided to set up the place themselves. The restaurant which is up on the Noksapyeong hill is very chic and filled with sleek black tables and wood clad walls and

We started off the evening with a Sake Bomb (8,000), which they are currently giving away FREE to anyone who mentions this article for the rest of the year! I’m not particularly fond of sake but the joy of doing the bomb was too much to resist. And I was very proud that I managed to do my bomb in one go. If you want to see the video chugging my bomb check out my instagram account. We also enjoyed a bowl of complimentary miso soup. The soup was nice enough but I was more excited about moving on to the main event! .

After perusing the menu we decided to get two sets of maki hand rolls, Tempura Shrimp (12,000 for 3), and the Soft Shell Crab (14,000 for 3). Both rolls were quite similar considering they were stuffed with battered and deep fried seafood, avocado, and vegetables. There were both filled with plenty of tempura covered shellfish and veg and not too much rice which was plus. They also came with a blob of wasabi, some pickled ginger, and a very nice soy sauce for dipping. I enjoyed the maki rolls a lot as they reminded me a lot of the hand rolls I used to eat for my lunch every day when I lived in Sydney. Three would be very easy to eat by yourself though, so consider these to be an appetiser.

Also on the menu are a selection of Nori creations. There are larger rolls stuffed with all kinds of different fish and covered in sauces and sliced into pieces. We ordered two of the rolls, the Fengshui Roll (14,000) which is filled with chicken karage, shrimp tempura and cucumber and is topped with salmon and apple mayo. As you may know I’m not overly keen on fish, so this battered chicken and shrimp stuffed version was right up my ally. It came with salmon on the top but it was very fresh and palatable so I had no problem eating that too.

We also ordered the Swaggy G (13,000) a spicy tuna roll with shrimp tempura covered in eel sauce and topped with deep fried seaweed. I honesty didn’t think I’d like this as I’m not fond of tuna but I tried a piece anyway, the fishy roll was actually rather tasty and I was surprised liked it. the sauce was slightly spicy and despite my doubts the eel was not at all fishy tasting and the deep fried seaweed on the top added a nice crunch. I’d be interested to try some more of the fishier options next time, as clearly it’s cooked fish that I’m not so keen on, rather than raw.

Lastly we were given a plate of the Baked Mussels (12,000)on the house. I wouldn’t have picked these, but hey free food is free food at the end of the day. These were like a seafood version of a buffalo wing, sweet and spicy sauce with nice meaty nuggets of scallop nestled inside the shell once you dug into the creamy sauce. I’ve never eaten anything like this before so it was nice to try something new.

Lastly we were given the Fried Ice-cream (8,000) on the house to try too. Vanilla ice cream covered in pound-cake and fried in tempura batter. This was a great way to end and get the spicy taste out of our mouths after eating the mussels. I loved this, the ice cream was really good and I think you know my feelings by now about anything deep fried. A decedent dessert that is bound to help you gain some of those extra pounds you need to keep warm this winter.

Overall I rather liked Nori Table. It was a lot of fun to share all the different dishes and to drink the bombs and I think it will soon become very popular with the young and trendy crowd. The menu is huge which is a big plus so I’m sure there is something for everyone, including fish fascists like myself.  It reminded me a lot of the food I ate in Australia. so for anyone hankering after a taste of western sushi then it’s certainly worth checking out.

Nori Table is located at 455-47 Itaewon-dong, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station and exit using the elevator or exit 1. Come out of the elevator and walk over the bridge. Take a right at the end and follow the road round. You will see Nori Table just up on the right opposite 3 section. For more information you can call them on 02-792-4427 or check out their facebook page. they are open for lunch and dinner everyday except Tuesday and take a break between 3:30-5:30pm.

Normal by Ryunique

Last week I was invited back to Normal in Sinsa to try their new quick and simple menu by Ryunique. If you read this blog religiously you will know that I enjoyed a sumptuous 16 course meal at Ryunique earlier this year, then another fabulous but slightly less grand meal at new sister restaurant Normal. The team behind the two restaurants are now offering patrons the chance to experience the magic of the food you’d enjoy at Ryunique at Normal, for those who have neither the time or money for the 16 or 22 course extravaganza at the original location.

The new menu offers a Quick Ryunique for 60,000 per person which includes 7 different courses, or a Keep Ryuinque for 80,000 that is 9 courses. As we were a pair, we decided to get one version of each. Personally I felt the quick menu was filling enough by itself and after enjoying all 7 courses I was stuffed. On the back of the menu is the list of ingredients used in each dish and where in Korea they can be sourced. I really appreciated this extra level of care, and it clear that Chef Ryu and his team are incredibly passionate about what they do. Since it was a special occasion and the meal was on the house we split a bottle of Biblia Chora (60,000), a Greek sauvignon blanc. I’m not really an oenophile but I know what I like and this was delicious and paired perfectly with the first five courses.

We started off as you do with any classy dinner with an amuse bouche, or three in the case of the larger meal. The first of which was my favourite a Jerusalem artichoke soup with a sous vide egg, artichoke chips, shavings of aged chicken breast and beetroot powder. As well as looking stunning and incredibly beautiful, the soup itself was like silk running down my throat, and it got even more lustrous when we found a sous vide egg yolk in the middle of the bowl. The shavings of chicken added a saltiness while the artichoke chips provided the crunch. All in all an incredible dish and a wonderful way to use the in season and overlooked ‘pig potatoes’.

After one or two more amuse dishes we moved on to the Fois Gras Blini. It was described to us as a mini take on the BLT sandwich. Fois gras was piled upon prosciutto, tomato, cucumber and a sweet brioche style bread and served with a lemon sour cream. This was such a delightful and playful dish, that was as tasty as it was cute and was one of the extra courses we received on the larger 80,000 menu.

One of the main draws of eating at Ryunique is the fact that every dish has a  theatrical element that is administered by your server. One of the dishes that stood out most to me was the Butternut Squash soup with Confit Duck Leg. We were brought our bowls while our server told us what we were eating then she then poured out our rich and creamy soup, then added a few drops of anti ageing oil (toasted duck fat). This gave the dish a wonderful  nuttiness, which balanced with the salty and gamey flavour of the duck, and the richness of the cream cheese filled ravioli was just heavenly. Personally I couldn’t get enough of this soup and would eat it for the rest of my days. However my companion said it could be considered to be a bit on the sweet side by some but we both enjoyed it immensely.

The first and star player of our main courses was the Pork Jowl with Apple and Dashi. Pork and apple is such a classic combination but this version was elevated by the peppery and slightly bitter mustard leaves, and the addition of dashi and crushed peanuts. The pork itself was was raised in Jirisan, and had the most wonderful flavour. It was in some ways a very simple dish that let the ingredients speak for themselves without adding any extra bells and whistles.

If I talked about every dish we enjoyed that night, we would be here all night but here is a little amalgamation of the best of the rest. From top left Roast duck with orange sauce, Tomatoes bubble salad, beef tartar and cream cheese ravioli, all of which I ate and wrote about on my last visit. So please take a look at that review if you would like to know more about those courses.

For dessert we were presented an enchanting woodland scene. The star of which was a chocolate ball filled with the most sumptuous raspberry sorbet. A small chocolate log, and candy floss cloud were also served on a specially made wood like plate.  After dessert came a round of tea and coffee which is included in the set meal, along with a chocolate truffle which I’m not sure how we finished after eating so much but I guess we found room somewhere.

Once again I was bowled over by the tastes and flavours that Chef Ryu presented in the most fabulous way. Some of the dishes I’d tried before but they still astounded me and I always feel in awe by the Chef and his team’s talent. I also want to mention that the service was attentive and knowledgeable from the outset and throughout. Good service in this city is a rarity, at least in the places I can afford to eat in. Personally I’ve always though that good service is the easiest way to turn a good meal into a great one so they deserve some recognition for that too. If you are looking for a place to eat that is going to impress without breaking the bank you’d be hard pushed to find better than Normal and if you really want to dazzle your date for a one off experience that could only be described as magical then head to Ryuinque.

Normal is located at 520-8, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sinsa Station (line 3) and come out of exit 8. Walk straight then take the second left, walk to the end then take the next left street which is diagonal and runs parallel to Garosugil. normal is about half way down just before the 4th left turn. For more information you can call them on 02-6405-9279 or check out their facebook page.

Halal Guys

The most exciting event of the year has finally came to fruition. No, I’m not talking about Christmas, though I am excited about that too. It’s the long awaited opening of one of New York’s favourite street foods, Halal Guys on Saturday December 17th! Now being a blogger sometimes has its perks as I was lucky enough to be invited to give  it a try during their soft opening phase. I first  fell in love with the delicious foil bowls of chicken and rice goodness when I was in New York last year. In fact despite all the amazing goodies I devoured on the trip it was one of the most memorable meals. Not long after my return from NYC Jil’hal Bros opened up their own version of the NY street food here in Seoul and I have been a very frequent customer ever since. However I have still hankered after the original so am pleased as punch they are here too, especially since it’s in Itaewon!

The restaurant is located in Itaewon on the second floor just across from the police station. The eatery is reasonably spacious with seating for about 20 and is decked out in a festive red and yellow colour combination. The team of staff they have working there is huge and they have brought reps over from New York to make sure everything goes smoothly. Working like a well oiled machine they had our monumental order put together in minutes, which is very important when you have so many people to serve in such a short time.

If you are unfamiliar with Halal Guys then the main menu item that everyone lusts after are the chicken and rice, or beef and rice salad bowls. They have three sizes of platters available, a small for 7,900, a regular for 9,900, and a New York for 11,900 (which are the same size as the street cart ones you get in NYC). Along with the meat and rice you also get salad and pita bread, which is then topped with two sauces, a creamy white sauce from heaven and a spicy hot sauce. The platters are customisable so you can have as much or as little sauce as your heart desires and you can also add other ingredients like pickles and olives. It has been a long time since I tried to the original in NYC but I have to say they are pretty much dead on to what I remember and just as addictive. I have eaten at least 8 over the past few weeks and I have to say that, unlike revenge, this is a dish best served hot. I’m not saying I didn’t scarf down a few for breakfast or lunch, but the true flavours are enjoyed warm so try and eat in store if you can. Another point to mention is that they are still testing their pita bread and trying to find an exact copy of the NY one, but it’s a very small flaw in an otherwise delicious dish.

Also on the menu are some gyro wraps. I hadn’t tried these before so was eager to try them. They aren’t cheap at 8,900, but they are large and filling. I got one last night and couldn’t even finish it, although considering I had already eaten the large chicken and rice bowl it is not surprising. The pita as mentioned still needs a little work, as this batch was a bit on the spongy side. Personally I think I’d rather stick with a kebab across the street if I was in the mood for a sandwich, just because the ratio of filling to bread is a little better and they are slightly better value, though don’t let me put you off from trying one.

There are number of sides on the menu including falafel (2,500) and hummus (5,000), which I am sure will be of great interest to my veggie readers. I know that falafel and hummus are found reasonably easily here these day but having a fast food option that you can go to and enjoy with your carnivorous friends will surely be a blessing to many. They also have very reasonably priced fries for (3,000), which are just cheap enough that you will throw a batch on to your order for gluttony’s sake. To celebrate the grand opening tomorrow, the first 100 customers will get their orders free of charge, while the first 1000 will have a chance to play a game and win free food or promotional t-shirts and what not, so be sure to stop by.

Halal Guys is located at 2F, 187 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight you will see Halal Guys just up ahead past Holly’s Coffee on the second floor opposite the police station. For more information you can call them on 027948309 or check out their facebook page. They will be open from from 11am-11pm Sunday – Thursday, and 11am-3am Friday and Saturday.

 

Guilty Pleasure

It has been quite some time since I last enjoyed a brunch at Guilty Pleasure in Itaewon. However when some of my favourite people suggested we get together for a catch up before Christmas, I thought it would be the perfect spot for a boozy brunch.

The main draw of Guilty Pleasure to me is the fact that it had outdoor seating, and thanks to their crafty roof cover and some space heaters it can be enjoyed year round. There is also seating inside but I always think its a bit too dark and dingy inside for a day time meal.  The menu has changed somewhat since my last visit, which isn’t surprising as it’s been well over a year. Unfortunately there is still no Bloody Mary on the brunch menu, which saddens a vodka lover like myself, but thankfully they do have a mimosa which I enjoyed instead (12,000).

I couldn’t make up my mind between the pancakes and the breakfast burger so we decided to get both and share. The ricotta pancakes came with house smoked bacon, honey comb butter, bacon syrup, and fruit compote  (16,000). The pancakes were big and fluffy and the there was plenty of syrup for them. The bacon which I had sampled before with the brunch platter was just as nice as I remembered and this was a great dish to keep the sweet toothed happy. It was also incredibly filling, I couldn’t even manage my half and I can eat a lot!

My second shared dish was the Guilty Burger (17,000). A beef patty, hash brown, swiss cheese, american cheese, thick cut bacon, lettuce, chipotle aioli on a rye bread bun. I was very excited by this burger especially when I saw how glorious the hash brown looked. However the burger didn’t taste as good as it looked, despite the line up of stellar ingredients. It wasn’t bad in anyway, just lacking for a better word and it did little to tantalise my taste buds. The coleslaw on the side was pretty decent but I probably wouldn’t order this again.

My very fussy friend ordered the Duck prosciutto & Scrambled Eggs (16,000) for his main dish. Truffle scrambled eggs were piled on toasted baguette and topped with duck prosciutto, smoked ham,  and grana padano cheese. I’m not particularly fond of either prosciutto,duck, or scrambled eggs so this probably would be the very last dish I would ever order. However I was forced to give it a try after my companion took one bite and proclaimed he didn’t like it. I actually thought it was delicious, a real standout. The eggs were fluffy and the ducky prosciutto smoky without being over salty and the smell of truffle permeated the air. I told him if he didn’t like it, to send it back, which he didn’t so I’m ignoring all his negativity on the matter as he actually managed to devour the whole thing. If you are looking for something a bit lighter and heavy on the protein then this is an excellent dish.

While I rather enjoyed my brunch for the most part, one point to note is that we went on a very quiet day and the service was not great. The two servers were new and very sweet and went out of their way to please us so I cant fault them for that. My main issue was that the food came out separately. Fine if you are sharing, but only two of us were and it was just a very long awkward wait as one dish came out every five minutes. This was especially noticed as some of our party were still waiting for drinks. I wouldn’t let it put me off coming again but I would be sure to make sure to tell the wait staff we want all the meals served at once, especially if it isn’t busy. If you are looking for a decent modern American brunch in Itaewon though, it’s certainly worth a visit.

Guilty Pleasure is  located at 1F, 2-10 Itaewon-ro 20-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (line 6) and come out of exit 4. Walk straight until you get to Dillingers and take the set of stairs going down. Turn right and walk straight, you will see for  the sign Guilty Pleasure on the right hand side. Walk up to the top of the stairs and go in the building on the left, it’s on the 1st floor. For more information you can call them on 02-794-4332 or check out their facebook page.

Itaewon the Burger

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Call it an early Christmas present but I may have just found my new favourite burger. After the months and months of searching and the endless recriminations from fellow foodies I have finally found a burger that makes me go Mmmm. I have been all over town searching for a burger that I can love, while I have found plenty that I like none have quite made the cut until now.

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Itaewon the Burger is nestled in the “Linus” alleyway, there are obviously plenty of other restaurants and bars along this strip but none as ubiquitous as the BBQ joint. The restaurant itself is pretty simple, nothing fancy except the “Stranger Things” inspired signage which ensures all of the pictures come out with a lovey red hue to them.

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So the burger that pleased me so very much was the Big Double Burger (12,900). The reason I probably enjoy this burger so much compared to the other popular burgers around town is the fact that it’s charcoal grilled, and for me that always imparts plenty of flavour to the meat. Secondly the bun was really really good, and thirdly it was stuffed with bacon and cheese. All of these ingredients worked in perfect harmony to give me the burgery bite of goodness I have been hankering after. The burger itself was very juicy and a little hard to eat as it started falling apart about half way through, but this doesn’t particularly bother me, and I’m often covered in food juice thanks to my less than elegant table manners. If a fault had to be found it would be that the pickles are sweet and not dill but after alerting the owner to this fact he said he intends to rectify it very soon. All in all I was beyond happy with this burger and stuffed to the gills, which again is a very rare occurrence.

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TFB accompanied me and ordered himself  the  BLT & Egg Burger (10,900). I had a bite of this one, and while it couldn’t compare to my own piece of double burger heaven it was still pretty solid. I wasn’t quite sold on the spicy sauce but liked the addition of the egg. Perhaps a different sauce and some avocado and they’d be on to a winner. We made this one a set for an extra 4,500 and were given a full sized can of Sprite and not the tiny one, which was nice, and a generous portion of Cajun fries.

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The rest of the burgers on the menu are a bit of a mix, there is a shrimp burger probably geared to please the Korean clientele, and a sloppy Joe for the Americans. I was told that they are planning to add at least another 5 or 6 burgers to the menu soon which should keep things interesting for regulars, especially if they add a BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger.

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After enjoying our meal we had a quick chat with the owner (I had to congratulate him on such a fine job) and he told me they also have a private room out the back which can be reserved free of charge and fits about 14 people. He is also opening up a craft beer bottle shop below so people are more than welcome to get drinks from downstairs if they are having a private party.

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Itaewon the Burger is located at 22 Noksapyeong-daero 32-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6) and come out of exit 3. Walk straight then use the crossing to get over to the Itaewon side. Take the first alleyway on your right, just next to where Suji’s used to be. Walk down this street, you will see Itaewon the Burger on the right side about half way up. For more information you can call them on 02-797-8940 or visit their facebook page. They are open everyday from 11am-10pm.

Cafe Able

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It has been rather a long time since I posted a new brunch place, in fact I cant even remember the last time I shared one. Although that doesn’t mean I haven’t been out there looking, I just haven’t found one worth sharing until now. The search for new brunch spots is never ending, but if you want to reap the rewards you have to put in the work. This place was recommended to me by my friend John Kim so I have to say a big thanks to him because it is an excellent find.

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Cafe Able is located just off the end of Garosu-gil in a renovated two story house The whole concept of the place is farm to table freshness and the serve organic fruit and veggies some of which are grown on their own farm. The restaurant itself is huge and very light with a real country chic warmth throughout. I adored all the jars and baskets of jams and candles that they had used to decorate the place. They also had the nicest smelling toilet I’ve ever been in, kind of like a vanilla latte.

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The Cafe Able menu is mostly made of sandwiches and salads but also has half a dozen brunch items. One of them being Eggs Florentine (15,000) which is my favourite brunch dish of all time. This one was served in frying pan which was utterly adorable. My two poached eggs were sat atop a thick and creamy sauce which was strewn with potatoes, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, asparagus, and bacon. It also came with two pieces of toasted whole grain bread. I adored this dish, it was just so warm and comforting. I lapped up every bite but didn’t feel in the slightest bit heavy afterwards, it was the ideal brunch dish.

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My dining companion opted for the Eggs Benedict (14,000). He chose the ham version which I think he regretted once he saw it and wishes he had gone for the salmon instead. The ham was kind of a round slab, and not really what he was hoping for. The hollandaise was also rather thin and there wasn’t much of it, though I’m sure you could ask for more. The poached eggs themselves were perfect and came on a quinoa bread which I have never tried before. It was slightly sweet and has a very soft texture. The fried potatoes on the side were also very tasty and a small salad. Not the best Benedict as the ham and hollandaise let it down. The salmon version might be worth a try though.

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Booze wise there are no cocktails (boo) but they do have an ample selection of wine and beer (yay). The star of their drinks menu are their huge selection of homemade juices and teas, which seemed to be very popular judging by the other tables. The juices are not cheap at 9,000 each but they are made with organic fruits which somewhat justifies the price tag. We decided to splurge and get one each. My dining companion got the Red Field (apple and beet) while I got the Green Refresh (grape, kale, and cucumber). Both were delicious, and made a nice treat. I make juices a lot at home so it’s unusual for me to buy one, but I was staying off the booze and figured I needed a reward. If you want to drink, bottles of wine start at 23,000. They had a couple of sparkling options so I’m sure they could make you a fantastic freshly squeezed orange juice if you cant live without that mimosa.

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Overall I really enjoyed Cafe Able and I thought my dish was perfect. Seeing what others ordered around us the french toast and the English breakfast looked great too. If they had a cocktail menu I’d be here very week. The space itself is really cool and a wonderful ambience. Sinsa is also a great area for wandering around and walking off your lunch after, so if you are looking for somewhere to refuel after a spot of shopping then this is it.

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Cafe Able is located at 12 Apgujeong-ro,14gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Apgujeong station and come out of exit 5. Walk straight for several blocks and take the fifth road on the left (the one before Garosugil). Walk straight down this road for just over one block, you will see Cafe Able on the right hand side on the second floor. For more information you can call them on 02-3445-7335.