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eely good – 반구정 나루터집 near Heyri Art Village

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?

Heyri art village and eel restaurant (반구정 나루터집)

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.

Heyri art village and eel restaurant (반구정 나루터집)

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.

Heyri art village and eel restaurant (반구정 나루터집)

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.

Heyri art village and eel restaurant (반구정 나루터집)

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).

Heyri art village and eel restaurant (반구정 나루터집)

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.

Heyri art village and eel restaurant (반구정 나루터집)

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.

Heyri art village and eel restaurant (반구정 나루터집)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.

Heyri art village and eel restaurant (반구정 나루터집)

  • 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


  1. Heyri Art Village looks and sounds a bit like the 798 Art Zone in Beijing. Having said that, the food looks a helluva lot better at Heyri! And good tip on bribing the eel ajumma!

    • I STILL haven’t been to 798 or Beijing and I have to fix that soon. Jen is there now and says it is just so polluted. My experience of art zones in Shanghai was interesting as it was a touch too forced but still… I am glad it is.

  2. OK, so those dolls are kind of freaky, like you would get from a Korean horror… Still, the eel would make for a great spine stiffener. It looks ace, and rare too, if it came from the DMZ. Sounds like an ideal day out.

  3. How does one go about bribing an eel cook? Is there a specific amount, a sly shuffle and a note pressed into the hand etc etc? I want details! (I’ve never bribed anyone before.)

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