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.

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The entrance of the restaurant on a snowy day.

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


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