Friday, February 19, 2010

Kangnung Yetnal Jip - Seoul, Korea (Nonhyung-Dong)

This has been a favorite of our family's for years. It's called Kangnung Yetnal Jip (old house in Kangnung, which is a city in the northeastern province of South Korea). Each province is known for its regional specialties and distinctive styles.

Here's the front entrance. They specialize in han jung shik meals here.

You walk into a big foyer where you will most likely see several tables set up. You go inside to one of several rooms and sit on the floor. You will see that you do not have a table in front of you. But fear not, once they have all the side dishes prepared, they put it on the table outside and two people will carry it over and put it in front of you. There's something so satisfying about seeing a table full of side dishes magically appear before you.

We ordered the 20,000 won per person meal, which suits us just fine. There are different price ranges and you get nicer entrees the more you spend per person. If you come here for dinner, certain courses come with bossam kimchi, which is really hard to find apparently. It has chestnuts, pine nuts, jujubes, oysters and other ingredients in it and the cabbage leaves are wrapped up like a tight flower bud.

Our lunch included a plate of bossam of the porky kind not kimchi, which is boiled pork that you eat with napa cabbage and spicy radish. They also make their own tofu.

A multitude of side dishes featuring jap chae (glass noodles with vegetables) and other seasoned vegetables.

Some sashimi.

Homemade rice cake with some red beans.

Some sort of seasoned fish.

This plate of fish jun (battered in egg and flour and lightly fried), kimchi pancakes and fried zucchini came later.

Why is the rice yellow you ask? It's because they cook it with mineral water that they bring directly from Suraksan Mountain. I don't know if it has magical powers, but the rice is really chewy and nutty and the aroma is really addicting.

Grilled fish and doengjang jjigae (soy bean stew) also came out as well. Doengjang jjigae here is really dark and a bit on the salty side. I guess that's what it tastes like in Kangnung.

You scoop out the rice from the dolsot (stone pot) and you are left with a thin crust of
scorched rice. You add some hot water and let it sit for awhile to make nurungji bap (scorched rice), which becomes a watery porridge-like consistency.

This restaurant is on one of Seoul's many little side roads, but the best way to describe it is that it's on a parallel street right behind the Imperial Palace Hotel in Nonhyung-Dong.

Kangnung Yetnal Jip
(02) 516-2002 and 548-3120

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