So in my last post I said that you should never eat European or Asian food in Seoul and apart from Jung Sik Dang all high-level Korean is pretty average. So what does that leave?
Well fortunately quite a lot and lets start with eel. Just outside of Seoul there is a place called Heyri Art Village which is where the picture above is from. It is the kind of place one goes for a day trip and has a bunch of modern houses and galleries with bits of modern art dotted around. The art ranges from the modern to the esoteric but is the architecture which I found most impressive. However, the best thing about Heyri is that once you finished your day trip there you can head off to a nearby and very famous eel restaurant.
The eel restaurant is situated so you can stare right up the skirts of North Korea as only a river and a bit of barbed wire (and probably some mines) separate you. One reason that the eel is supposed to be so good from there is because the eel is from the river which is located in the DMZ and thus is pollutant and people free.
This is not eel on a small scale. It is mass catering with teams of Korean ajummas slaving over outdoor barbecues. You will inevitably queue for an inordinate amount of time despite the fact that the restaurant must seat hundreds as it is that popular.
And I can kind of see why. Once seated you can lounge outside under the cover of trees and on raised wooden platforms. A pile of traditional Korean side dishes – banchan (반찬) – are brought out to you and you start the drinking (soju and beer of course).
The people who took us there were fairly expert and suggested we bribe the ajumma cooking our food. Now this is the first time I’ve experienced corruption in Korea but the results were well worth it. Eel started flooding our table. And a big bowl of crab soup. And more eel. With eel on the side. It’s kind of strange as most places get offended when you try to tip but apparently bribing an eel ajumma is the thing to do.
The eel comes in two main ways: marinated and not marinated. It is then split open and cooked on charcoal out in the open. On a sunny day little could be better. The crab stew which we got on the side was completely unneeded and actually pretty bad. So I would live without that if I were you.
And then after this you can go just next die and visit one of Korea’s traditional houses where a scholar/ philosopher called Hui Hwang lived back in the Chosun dynasty. This guy liked seagulls and was the oldest man ever back in those day by living to 90.
- Address – 208-3 Munsan-eup, Samok-ri Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea / TeJc Gmap link here
- Price – KRW30,000 to 40,000 a head