Part Two: Eating Out in Hongdae

1 Goulash Soup & Bread

No dirty net curtains or grumpy Hungarians, this tiny goulash place is as bright and clean as can be.

Goulash Soup & Bread is the perfect diner to warm yourself up in on the cheap, though the rule is to slurp up and get out. This is a tiny place and there’s often a line of people waiting to get in.

For 4,000W (Set A) you get spicy goulash filled with potatoes, carrots and tender beef, rice and a fresh-baked roll with Irish butter. You get black coffee, and you can also ask for second-helpings if you like. Just point, smile and say ‘deo’, which means ‘more’ in Korean.

No English is spoken.

2 Venus Kitchen

This restaurant is a Pacific explosion of palm fronds, candles and kitsch over four floors of total bliss.

 Venus Kitchen is full of exposed walls yet cosy and intimate.

The food is mum’s home cooking with a Hawaiian twist – the barbecue spare ribs are served in a half a pineapple and topped with a purple hibiscus.

The Okinawa platter is beautifully served on a mis-mash of hand-painted china crockery containing delicious teriaki dishes, tempura and miso soup.

The food is well-priced, between 9-15,000 W (plus 10% service). The staff speak great English and the menu is well-translated, with pictures of every drink and dish.

Add a couple of Bellinis to your order and you are in for a great night.

The perfect place to go with friends or on a date, my friend Dada won’t go anywhere else. 

3 Korean Traditional Sound

In the past, farmers couldn’t work on rainy days, so while the rain fell outside they would get together for savoury pancakes (pajeon) and rice wine (Makgeolli).

Makgeolli’s old Korean name is Pear Blossom drink which suits its delicate taste perfectly. It’s slightly fizzy with a subtle sweetness and tangy lemon afterkick.

Makgeolli tastes best in a place like Korean Traditional Sound, where you serve it old-school from a copper teapot into little tin bowls, which you lap from like a happy cat. There is also little more comforting than the kimchi pajeon served here – a spicy crunchy hit of batter and warmth.

So you may not be able to hear the pitter patter of rain at Korean Traditional Sound, this is a hip downstairs cavern, but the atmosphere here is just right. The bar only plays Korean hits from the 50s to the 80s, reminding Korean customers of sweet memories from their youth, meaning that late at night, the place practically turns into a Noraebang of nostalgia. Lovely stuff.

English is spoken. 

4 and 5 – Galbi restaurants

I’ve never had a bad experience at a Korean barbecue restaurant, but 5 gets a mention because of its quality meat and central location, while 4 is on another level because of its addition of an egg donut. Bear with me.

Your server pours an egg mixture into the metal ring round your barbecue grill, then adds some kimchi and chives. While your meat sizzles on the grill, the egg mixture bubbles and rises into an omelette, perfect with galbi sauce – soy sauce, garlic, sugar and onion. The marinade here is the best I have ever had.

A little English is spoken.

Sorry the posts haven’t been coming fast this week, I’m stuck on a sunny  Mexican beach without a laptop charger. Instead, I’ve been playing in waves so huge they knocked my sunglasses to the bottom of the sea, tangling me up in seasalt blues. I don’t mind at all. Te Quiero Mexico!

Cancun beach (Mexico), August 2006
Cancun beach (Mexico), August 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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