Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eat the best Korean style dumplings in Seoul at Bukchon Kalguksu

The mandu at Bukchon Kalguksu is the most famous in Seoul.
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The chefs are making the mandu right in the entry way.
    There is always a line out the door at Bukchon Kalguksu where everyone wants to get their chopsticks dug into giant dumplings (mandu in Korean). Bukchon Kalguksu was the only restaurant that my Korean friends and I ate at twice during a two week scholarship program I was part of back in 2009. We simply couldn't stop talking about those dumplings and with such a convenient locations beside Gyeongbukgong Palace we headed back  a second time to pig out in one of their private rooms upstairs.

Don't let the size of the mandu in the picture fool you, its giant.
    Now that I am living in Korea I have had plenty of chances to sample mandu. Even the famous Sikdorak pork mandu street vendors since 1969, that people line up for over an hour on Saturdays in Namdaemoon can't compare to Bukchon's. The restaurant specializes in giant dumplings filled with pork and tons of vegetables. Upon entering the restaurant you can see the mandu being made fresh on a table directly across from the cashier. The giant bucket of pork magically disappears as the cooks quickly stuff giant teaspoons of filling inside of fresh dough.

This soup is perfect on a cold winter day!
    Don't bother ordering anything else on the menu. The dumpling soup costs 9,000 won and is enough to feed two people. One person can finish it alone, I have personally done so, but I couldn't move for about an hour and was in a complete food coma. I truly think the fresh dough and the perfect blend of ingredients is what makes the mandu so delicious. These are Korean style dumplings with thin dough, not the Chinese style with that are thick and more bread-like. In addition to the dumplings, the kimchi is some of the best I have tasted in Seoul. It is truly homemade fresh everyday, which is something to be said because I never eat kimchi.
    Ideally the best time to go to the restaurant is during the week between normal meal times. So at 2pm the lunch crowd should be gone. Otherwise plan on waiting for up to an hour in line. If you do end up waiting it will be worth every second, or you can complain about it on my blog!
    Getting there is really simple, take exit No. 2 out of Anguk Station and walk straight about 6 minutes until you see the palace walls across the street and a pagoda-like structure in the middle of the road (pictured below). Turn right here and you will see Hank's bookstore on your right hand side. Walk straight until you get to the first big intersection. Take a right on this street and you will see the restaurant on your left. For a detailed picture map of the restaurant's location visit the maps page of iTourSeoul. Or Exit Gyeongbukgong and walk straight. If you are looking straight at the palace turn right and you will see the giant pagoda-like structure straight ahead. Then cross the street where you will see Hank's Bookstore ahead and turn left.

If you have any questions or comments about "Seoul Food Girl: Eat the best Korean style dumplings in Seoul at Bukchon Kalguksu" please leave them in the comment box below or email
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The entrance of the restaurant on a snowy day.

The pagoda-like structure where you should turn down the street.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mad For Garlic in Korea has a completely garlic menu

The Garlic For You Steak is one of the signature dishes on the menu.

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    I'm simply mad for garlic! Upon moving to Korea I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle by including foods like garlic, green tea, and ginseng in my everyday diet. That's why when a friend told me about Mad For Garlic, we decided to spend our New Years Eve toasting with fine wine and bad breathe! Yes everything on the menu has tons of garlic in it, there is even garlic gelato for dessert. You may be just as surprised as I was to find out that the franchise is a Korean chain that has recently become international with locations in Singapore, Indonesia, and Hawaii to name a few. The Italian Wine Bistro first opened in Seoul in 2001, and now has 11 locations in Korea.

Try the steamed mussels in tomato garlic sauce for an appetizer.
     Plan on spending alot of money at this restaurant. Between my boyfriend and I we managed to spend around 100,000 won, but we also ate enough for four people! This is a great place to spend a romantic date, or celebrate a special event. The atmosphere is extremely romantic, there are dim lights and wine glasses dangling from beautiful wooden beams in the ceiling. The garlic theme is also represented in the decorations such as a garlic wreath, and garlic ornaments on the restaurants Christmas tree in December.

The crab and lobster pasta comes with plenty of seafood.
For an appetizer try out the garlic steamed mussels in the red sauce. There is always a great debate between my friends and I about whether or not red or white is better with this dish. However, at Mad For Garlic the red sauce is clearly the winner. Order some extra bread to dip in the bucket of extra sauce. This dish is humongous and will be enough to share with others unless you are stingy with your seafood!  The garlic tower bread is also a must, and comes literally packed full of garlic which is then smashed down into the tower by the waiter right in front of you.

End with garlic gelato.
   The sweet potato pizza is a huge let down. The only cheese on the entire pizza is about 4 little balls on each slice, and it comes served with a mayonnaise like sauce all over the top. Its pretty much like ordering a thin crust pizza with salad on top. Don't experiment on any other types of pizza, and simply order the Gorgonzola pizza $16.90 which is perfectly cooked with a thin crust and lots of garlic and cheese. If you want a little seafood in the mix try out the crab and lobster pasta. The sauce isn't to die for, but the seafood is definitely fresh and they give you plenty of succulent lobster.
    The steak on the menu is all from Australia, and so the cuts are some of the most expensive items on the menu. The Garlic For You Steak comes served on a sizzling plate with sauteed bell peppers, onions, garlic cloves, and an entire head of garlic on top, stem and all just in case you didn't get enough! The steak was cooked to perfection, and is a reasonable price of $32.90 which is very reasonable for this cut in Korea.
    For dessert ordering the garlic gelato is a must, and don't forget to top off the meal with a nice glass of wine. The house red wine from Chile is a great choice that compliments almost any dish with its light and sweet aromas. There is a little bite to it, but it wears off immediately with a smooth after taste.
    Visit The Mad For Garlic Stores page to see the nearest locations to you. You can also view a menu, but it is not the most updated version. With all of the locations throughout Seoul you are bound to find one close by. Good luck and enjoy your garlic!

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