When most people think of Korea (whether they’ve been there or not) there are always a few things that immediately come to mind: hanbok, BBQ, K-pop, etc. However, no matter who you’re talking to, kimchi is always on the top of that list. 김치 (Kimchi) is Korea’s national dish. It is a traditional Korean side dish that consists of fermented vegetables and seasonings. It is typically spicy or sour and can be a bit of an acquired taste, in my opinion. The smell can also be a bit off-putting for those who are not accustomed to it. In fact, back in college my boyfriend couldn’t even eat it around me because I simply couldn’t handle the smell. Needless to say, I’ve come along way since then and living in Korea has certainly helped move me along.
Nowadays, kimchi is no longer a simple side dish. Chefs all over Korea, both foreign and native, are using kimchi as the main ingredient to spice up ordinary western cuisine and the results are positively drool worthy!
Bulldogs is a British gastropub specializes in British style hotdogs. I was introduced to Bulldogs when I came across their booth at the 2014 Itaewon Global Village Festival. It was there that I first sank my teeth into their Kimchi Hotdog or “Kimchidog.” In a word it was exquisite, so much so that I went to their 강남 (Gangnam) location just to have them again. Their hotdogs are all made with mouthwatering traditional British sausages called “bangers,” then topped with a variety of unique toppings. In the case of the “Kimchidog,” it is topped with sautéed kimchi, roasted garlic mayo and crispy seaweed. It is the perfect blend and balance of flavors. The kimchi doesn’t overwhelm the senses, which is very tricky to accomplish. You can taste everything very clearly, it’s like a symphony for the tastebuds. Two of these magical delights will run you ₩9,900 or three for ₩14,000. So next time you’re in the mood for something unique, I definitely recommend dropping by Bulldogs for a kimchidog.
달봉비어 (Dal Bong Beer)
달봉비어 is a fairly new potato (french fries) and beer house franchise. The whole potato and beer craze blew up last summer, with a whole mess of these pubs sprouting up all over Seoul! My boyfriend and I quickly found ourselves on that bandwagon because, let’s be honest, fries and beer are an awesome combination. We went to one of these places almost every week that summer and that’s how we came across 달봉비어. Now this isn’t my favorite potato and beer place, but I like to go there for their fantastic kimchi fries! On their own, the fries are a bit bland in flavor, but the texture is perfect… lightly crisped on the outside and soft on the inside. Once they are smothered in sour cream, fried kimchi, shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese and topped with tender pulled-apart beef, diced onions, basil and jalapeños you have the perfect kimchi fries. They’re actually not too spicy, especially if you toss the jalapeños to the side like I do. The portion is a bit small, but for ₩6,500 it’s pretty reasonably priced. I’ve found that the menu items can vary from location to location, so if you want a plate of these tasty kimchi fries, you can definitely find them at their 합정 (Hapjeong) location.
Suji’s is probably one of the most well known restaurants in 이태원 (Itaewon), as it’s been around since 2005. It is best known for its delicious deli sandwiches and all-day brunch dishes; brunch being what originally drew me in. After trying their delicious smoked salmon benedict, I knew I had to try one of their sandwiches. Enter the Kathleen Stephens Kimchi Ruben Sandwich. This tasty little dish consists of tender corned beef, melted swiss cheese and sautéed kimchi on lightly toasted rye. The beef is amazingly tender and immediately falls apart in your mouth. Having never been a fan of sauerkraut I think the kimchi made for an exceptionally unique substitute. It has a nice zing to it without being spicy. Much to my delight, the sandwich also comes with a side of coleslaw and fries. I would say it’s only downfall is the price. ₩15,300 is a bit steep for a sandwich, in my opinion. Tasty, but pricey… but tasty, which is why I’ve included it in my top 3. So if you haven’t had it, it’s definitely worth a try at least once.