Hope everyone is having a great start to the holidays!! Here is a pic that I took while I was living in Pangyo, Korea – snow just makes everything so pretty.. 😉
Now, before I write about other areas of Seoul, I have few more best restaurants in Seoul that I want to share in and around Itaewon. Because Itaewon has so many great places to eat, I need to share them before it disappears from my memory…which is not a very long time these days.. sigh…I don’t have pictures for all of them but at least you have the name and my suggestion.
So before we get into my list, I wanted to share a little bit about the history of Itaewon. It’s funny how I hated history as a subject in school but now that I’m older, it is actually fun to go back the last 30-40 years and think about how things came to be and how they have changed over the years. I guess that’s why many elderly people like to talk about the good ol’ days….I mean, I can talk about the not-so good OLD days when we used to program in FORTRAN and using computer PUNCHED cards instead of terminals!!! But I’m sure you don’t want to hear about that. Most of you probably don’t even know what they are..haha..
Anyway..for those of you who have not visited Itaewon – it is a very unique area in Korea. It is a melting pot of foreigners and Koreans who love international tastes and style. My memory of Itaewon goes back to the late 70’s and 80’s when it was mainly an area that served the American military population and also some small international population that were made up mostly of diplomats and their families.
Clothing stores that had western styles and in larger sizes (for big American soldiers..but also for families like us -haha), little grocery stores that had American foods (‘yankee’ goods :)) ) like spam, peanut butter and grape jelly which were mostly smuggled out of the military commissaries and night clubs with western disco music. In US standard, I have a very average shoe size but back in the early 80’s, my foot was too big so I either had to have shoes custom made or buy some at Itaewon.
In recent years, Itaewon has totally become one of the “IT” place for the most trendy and awesome restaurants. Clothing stores are still there but the food part has really taken over. From Tacos to Tandoori chicken, you can find just about any food in Itaewon and also in some areas of Hannam Dong. Thank you to sis#3 for many of the suggestions and taking me to many of these places!
NOTE: Best restaurants listed here are all located in 3 areas of Seoul – I for Itaewon, H for Hannam Dong and G for Gyeonnidan Gil. Itaewon area includes areas near the main street (Itaewon-ro) of Itaewon where Hamilton Hotel resides, below Hyatt hotel. Hannam Dong area is mostly concentrated around the Hannam 5 way junction. Gyeonnidan is the area near Hyatt Hotel, Namsan. I will try to include a website for each but some don’t have websites in which case I tried to include a phone number or address.
- Suji’s(I) – great place for American style breakfast and deli sandwich. They have house made bagels, pastries and deli meats.
- The Plant (vegan) (I)- a very small restaurant run by 2 ladies who love to create interesting dishes with vega ingredients. they also have a really good bakery – carrot cake, banana bread, tea cakes are all excellent.
- Soul Truck(G) – good custom hamburger joint. 070-4230-0506 (review post)
- Guilty Pleasures(I) – lobster roll, buttermilk fried chicken and mac and cheese.
- 2nd Kitchen(H)$$: Upscale New American (but also Italian) food with great open ambiance. Excellent food and wine. Very crowded for dinners and on weekends so be sure to make reservations.
- Bim Bom (G) – a great place for Brunch. “Organic Egg Brunch/Artisan Coffee” is their tagline. A little bit Koreanized but still very good pancakes, crepes and egg benedict.
- Johnny Dumpling(I) – a hole-in-the-wall place with just 6 menu items. Just really good shrimp and pork hand made dumplings (chinese style). Cheap.
- MAO(G) – Pretty good Korean style Chinese. Peking Duck and Hot pots are their specialities. (Gyeongnidan- Yongsanku Hoenamuro 57)
- Dae Han Gak (대한각) (I) – Chinese food using organic ingredients and no MSG. 02-798-9990
- Un deux trois (I): Good french food, great ambiance (very french bistro) and good service. you will see so many foreigners in the restaurant it almost feels like you are in Europe.
- Rose bakery (I): very good french cafe food, salad and sandwich in french style – see my previous post
- El Grecos (G) – Really good gyro sandwiches. But not the most friendly service.
- Agra(I) – Decent Indian food. 153, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu | Deokheung Bldg. B1F
- Paolodemaria (H): fresh made pasta by chef Paolo. Gotta try Galletti Verdi in lemon/orange sauce – simply the best. One of the best pasta dish ever in Seoul.
- Trevia (G) : Great fresh pizza. thin crust and great fresh toppings like prosciutto and arugula.
- Pizzeria d’buzza(G): Napoli style Pizza, baked in wood fired oven. So popular that there are now 5 locations throughout Seoul.
- Bistecca (G): Great Italian. Very good steaks and pasta. Also known for their tiramisu – very creamy. I find it a little bit too creamy but good. Fabulous view of Hannam Tower. Valet parking.
- Pizza Peel(I): Just pizza and calzone. American style atmosphere with beer and big screen TVs. My brother-in-law says it’s the best pizza in Seoul.
- Vecchia & Nuovo(H): Bakery & Cafe, Coffee House and Gourmet Deli shop – Great salads and sandwiches.
- Parc (I) – Really good everyday Korean food, served in modern style. See my post.
- Pulhyanggi(풀향기)(H) – modernized, simply good Korean food with authentic tastes. Good lunch sets served in courses. 146, Hannam-daero, Yongsan-gu
- Joong Shim(중심 I) – famous place in Itaewon that is known for their kalguksu (칼국수). Lines are long..(see this post for pics)
- Vatos Urban Tacos(I): Famous Korean fusion Mexican. Kimchi fries (french fries topped with sauteed Kimchi and cheese) is a must!
- Casablanca Sandwicherie(I): Casablanca is owned by 2 brothers from Morocco. They speak English as well as Korean that this place is popular among both Koreans and foreign residents.
- Thai Orchid(I) – one of the oldest Thai restaurant in Itaewon. Authentic Thai food with traditional Thai decor.
- Taste of Thailand(G) – so popular that now there are 2 locations within the area of Gyeongnidan, Itaewon. Good Thai food, a little bit on the sweet side. 671, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Buddha’s Belly(G) – authentic Thai food with a fabulous view of Namsan mountain
- Pasha(I) – Authentic Turkish food. Love their bread!! Kabobs are good too.
- Saigon Grill (I) – great vietnamese food. very good pho and bahn mi sandwiches. space is small..
- Le Saigon (G) – very good vietnamese food. 4 different locations. Gyeongnidan location is the 1st one.
- Passion 5(H) -The name Passion 5 comes from the combining of five elements: the bakery, patisserie, chocolates , café and the PASSION of those who create the desserts. In addition to the wonderful items from the bakery, there are usually 300 to 400 dessert items to choose from including cakes, puddings and chocolates. Because it’s a whole building dedicated to desserts.
- Maison Guillaume (H) – one of the best french pastries in Seoul by chef Guillaume. Their Eclairs and Lemon Meringue Tart is just magnifique!!
- Baker’s Table (G) – german bakery. lots of european pastries.
- By92(G) – really good specialty pies made fresh daily by husband and wife. chocolate banana pie, fig pies are really good.
- Softree ice cream(I, H) – soft ice cream served with amazing toppings including my favorite, bee hive + honey. It’s really special. Crazy long lines in the summer. Also available in some Dept stores like shinsegae.
- Churros(G) – there’s always a long line, rain or snow, in front of this little shop on Noksapyeong street. I actually didn’t get to try it because the line is always too long but I’m sure it must be good. :))222, Noksapyeong-daero, Yongsan-gu
Coffee (sorry, I’m not a huge Coffee person so I don’t know very many places)
- Anything but the Hero(G) – owned by actor Cho Inseong (조인성) or his brother? Great dutch coffee.
- Standing Coffee(G) – no room to stand but people stand in line for this coffee.
Well, I know there’s probably more but that’s all I can remember for now…
BTW, while I was searching for websites, I found a blog that had almost every restaurant (except for Korean and Chinese) on my list. Check out Fat Girls Food Guide for more info on each restaurant!
Have no time? or you can’t agree where to go?
A great place to go is Galleria Gourmet 494 located inside Galleria Department store at 343 Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. There is also a subway station right next to it. Galleria Gourmet is a very upscale food court that has many of my recommendations above including vatos and pizzeria d’buzza.
If you have any other recommendations, would LOVE to hear from you!!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone~