One of the hard things about living in Seoul is that it is absolutely not a foodie city. Coming from London, New York, Paris, Hong Kong or even the Spanish provinces to Seoul is a painful experience. I think the only place worse where we have lived would be McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Yes there is Korean food. Unfortunately it is also probably the worst place for Korean food in Korea; expensive and average.
Moreover you might think that as a capital city it has all the other, international, foods. You would be wrong. Every single one of the worst non-Korean meals of my life I’ve had have been here. It doesn’t matter whether you throw time or money at it you cannot have good Western or Asian food here. It is either Korean or Korean and all the while knowing that it is no-where near as good as the food down in Jeolla province. To put it mildly I am disenchanted with the food scene in Seoul. All the invention, the adventure, with Korean food is happening with the US. The US gets Hooni Kim whilst we get a chef who has worked in average middle Eastern hotel chains and a press which lauds hacks like Edward Kwon.
So rather than being disappointed I am going to use this to learn about the basics of Korean food. All of the best meals I’ve had in Seoul have been in old, grotty, and most of all, old places. A restaurant which has stood the test of two World Wars, one Korean civil war and the 80s is generally pretty good. So starting from next week I am going to eat my way chronologically through this book which sets out Korea’s oldest restaurants.
If you find yourself in Korea or in Seoul come along. Just drop me an email. It begins with a restaurant from 1904 which is Korea’s oldest restaurant.