The Gyeongnidan area is one of the hottest places for food, thanks to the rise of young entrepreneurs that are focused on taste rather than slippery dreams of franchising. If you are tired of the Itaewon food scene, head out Noksapyeong Station, Line 6, Exit 2 and cross to the other side of the street. Here is a list of some of my favorite new establishments.
Stop #1: Chan Bros. Coffee
Hands down, the best cappuccino I have had in Seoul. The espresso is perfectly pulled from the precise La Marzocco Machine and the milk is gently frothed to create sweet micro-bubbles of moist foam.
Price: 4,000, T. 070-8863-6353
Stop #2: Trevia Pizza di Roma
Hand-pulled pizza dough that goes through a baking and then a toasting process to create a snappy crust. They don’t skimp on the toppings here. My favorite is the cheese-less Siciliana topped with tomato sauce, fruit capers, anchovies and real green and black olives.
Price: 5,500-6,300 a slice, T. (02) 794-6003
Stop #3: Bao
Here you’ll get properly wok’d noodles or rice with an assortment of different sauces and toppings. You first have to custom order your dish. I got the wide rice noodles, with Thai sauce, all veggies, beef and holy basil. The place has a cool hip-hop feel about it and sitting here eating a bowl of noodles makes me feel like I am in Thailand.
Price: 7,500-10,000, T. (02) 797-4769
Stop #4: Siberia 1 & 2
My days of having to go all the way to Dongdaemun to get a proper bowl of Borsch with a shot of vodka are over. Offering a variety of Russian favorites such as pelmeni (lamb dumplings), pirozhki (buns stuffed with onions and potato) and, of course light, crepe-like blini. Their cherries jublini has vanilla ice cream with triple sec, fresh orange and is lit on fire with cherry brandy. It’s a dessert and a drink.
Price: 4,000-6,000, T. 010-5349-6720
Is the best burger in Seoul on top of Mt. Namsan?
The not-so-humbly-named The Best Burger in Seoul has gangster sensibilities. The burger is wrapped in newspaper depicting notorious mafia kingpins such as Al Capone, Dutch Schultz, and Lucky Luciano. Now, I have to say the burgers have clout: the meat is fresh ground, the burgers are grilled to order, and the buns are baked fresh everyday. These aren’t monstrous burgers, but they do the job. You can get the Big Boss Double Burger if you need extra meat. If burgers aren’t your thing, you can also get an Italian Sandwich, fresh-made fries and…real chocolate milkshakes. The milkshakes are worth the climb.
Price: 6,000-8,000 won
T. (02) 3455-9222
Directions: Go to the top of Mt. Namsan. TBBiS is on the first floor of N Seoul Tower.
Delicious 4,000 won chicken and rice soup
The secret to a famous chicken soup is the broth. I miss a good bowl of chicken noodle soup; luckily, I have been able to find a good substitute at Mu-Gyo. During lunchtime on the weekdays they do a 4,000 won bowl of chicken, noodle, and rice soup. The chicken broth is light and the rice and noodles make this a filling, healthy lunch. Of course, there are turnip kimchi and cabbage kimchi to accompany this along with spicy, tear-inducing garlic.
Directions: Go out Anguk Station (Orange Line 3) Exit 6 and walk down Insa-dong. Make a right at the intersection with the Turkish Icecream guy. Walk a block and make a right at Cafe Verranazo.