Directions from website: From exit 8 of Myeongdong Station (Subway Line No.4), proceed between La Bellavita (Coffee Shop) and Crown Bakery about 230 meters (pass 3 intersections). It is across from Missha (cosmetics shop).
First meal in Seoul!! Gosh it feels good to be back in Asia. Shops are open till late at night, restaurants open at 11am on Sundays, food is cheap and good, with really bold flavours, and spices are used freely and unapologetically.
We’re backpacking in South Korea, and with practically zero knowledge of Korean, we did a ton of research beforehand to search for interesting places to visit, and most importantly, for good places and foods to eat. A went to the Official Site of Korea Tourism Org, and downloaded a whole list of restaurants highly recommended by the website. Ttaro-jip Sogogi-Gukpap was one of the restaurants on that list, and was really near our hotel, so this was the first place we went to for lunch in Seoul. (Note we say the ‘first place we went to for lunch’ – in all, we went to 4 different places for lunch, trying just their speciality dishes, to get as much variety as possible, without overeating!!)
Ttaro-jip Sogogi-Gukpap has been opened for about 41 years, and their speciality is this spicy beef soup, a Korean favourite dish. We ordered that, and a portion of grilled fish. While waiting, we saw these 2 pots of mystery items sitting on our table, and we asked if we could help ourselves to them, and our server said we could, so we did! They were seasoned (pickled) spring onions and radish, and they were so awesome!! This was the first thing we ate in Korea, and we were just blown away by the fantastic combination of spices and flavours in something that’s just given away free of charge!
Our main dish, the spicy beef soup soon arrived, and it was rich and hearty. Apparently the soup is made by boiling beef bones in water for over 48 hours. It was flavourful, but when comparing it to the Gold Standard of beef soups, Kau Kee in Hong Kong, we still feel that Kau Kee comes up tops. There are chunks of beef in the soup, but we felt that they were a little overcooked and lacking in flavour. There were also lots of boiled beef blood lumps in the soup, none of which A ate, of course, but they had great texture and taste, definitely one of the highlights of the meal for K.
Our other dish was their grilled fish, which didn’t look grilled at all – they were battered and definitely pan fried. After her first bite, A declared them to be too dry, not properly de-boned, and wouldn’t eat anymore of it. Well, there were definitely little bones still left in the fish for sure, but they weren’t dry and overcooked at all. In fact, they were very addictive, and with a little soy sauce, were actually very good. The batter was slightly egg-y and the fish was quite nicely seasoned. We ended up finishing the entire plate.