Thursday, February 18, 2010

Naegang - Seoul, Korea (City Hall)

So while we're eating at Boo Kukgook Jip with Jung, my grandfather and my mom, my mom tells us, don't get too full, there's a good bibimbap place next door that we should try. We're eating again??? That's what happens when it's Jung's last day and my mom is trying to trying to squeeze in as many meals as possible.

After we finished our meal next door, we went into this tiny restaurant called Naegang which was literally two doors down. They specialize in home cooked, doengjang bibimbap (steamed rice with mixed vegetables with soybean paste).

You walk in through this glass door and sit down along the walls. There's only a bar along the side with stools underneath, no tables. As soon as you sit down, they will bring you a plate of doengjang bibimbap, that's the only thing on the menu.

You will see a line of metal bowls against the wall filled with different side dishes from bean sprouts to marinated perilla leaves to pickled chili peppers. My mom told us that we have to try the dried radish strips, which was really good. It seriously feels like you're eating at your sigol (countryside) grandma's house. I never had a real sigol grandma, but this is what I imagine she'd feed me. There are two grandmothers who are there and they both took turns asking us if we wanted more rice or more soup and calling us agga, which means little one in Korean. It totally felt like I was a five-year-old kid eating at my grandma's house in the countryside. It couldn't have been tastier either.

They give you a bowl of kimchi and tofu soup to eat with your bibimbap. Here, you don't use gochujang or red chili paste, rather you get seasoned doengjang to mix with your steaming bowl of white rice and mixed veggies.

You mix it up and eat. Seriously nothing beats a home cooked meal in the countryside. They always have such great vegetables that have real, distinct flavors.

I was so full from the boo kukgook, but I couldn't put the spoon down. It was soo good. I wish I could literally transport this place, with the grandmas in tow with me to LA so I can stop by every so often when I'm craving a home cooked meal. Eating a home-cooked meal like this with this many side dishes is hard. You can't really get this at a restaurant and to cook like this at home is too much effort.

My mom told the grandma that she brought us here so we can eat this on our last day before heading back to the states. She then took a plastic bag and packed us a bag full of nurunji (scorched rice pieces) that she had saved. I think this is in all grandmother's manuals ... to make sure no visitor leaves without taking something back with them. My own grandma does this all the time. Last time I was in Boston, it was cheonggukjang (fermented soybean) paste, which I insisted would stink up my luggage and the airplane, but there's no winning over grandma.

The doengjang bibimbap costs 5,500 won, but I think you get much more than a tasty meal. You get to eat a home cooked meal under the tutelage of a Korean grandma. She'll constantly put food on your plate and ask you if you want more of this or more of that and even packs you a snack to go. It's a stomach-filling and heart-warming place.

(02) 777-9419


  1. that's like $5! totally cheap.. and look worth it

  2. Yes, totally worth it. You should take hubby next time you guys go.