In our only excursion away from the literal center of Seoul city, we travelled about an hour to Suwon city to visit some palaces and stuff (details to come in the more travel oriented itinerary section).
Hwahongmun gate, Suwon
Obviously, we still had to eat; and even more obviously, we preferred not to trust to random blind luck to stumble upon a good restaurant. Therefore, the PigPig researched a little bit, and came across Bonsuwon Galbi.
Located atop a hill, we’re happy to have cabbed to it from the Hwahongmun gate (KRW 5,000 or so). Interestingly, on the short walk to the entrance from the roadside, we passed by several large earthern pots which contained (we think) the fermented bean paste.
The restaurant itself looks quite modern and was quite large, with two wings on either side of the entrance. We entered quite late at 2 pm or so though, so it was rather deserted when we were there.
The banchan spread here was very impressive, with about 8 or so varieties available. Of particular interest was a raw crab marinated in chilli spice, which is definitely something new, and something we will come across in Prosoy (to come in a later post). Also particularly appealing was a fresh green salad, with an apple sauce dressing, which was very refreshing in the heat.
We had a portion each of fresh and marinated short ribs. Unfortunately, both of these were US beef, not hanu (Korean beef), but was priced accordingly at about KRW35,000 for 450g. Grilled over a charcoal open grill, the beef was very tasty, but somehow didn’t feel as nice as the ones in Seo Seo Galbi.
Given the heat, we also ordered a bowl of cold noodles to share. We’ve had cold noodles before, so this wasn’t particularly new, but it was very well balanced in terms of flavour and the usage of a quail’s egg instead of a normal chicken egg was a nice touch. However, something completely different was the accompanying bowl of icy salty soup (seen in the left picture just north of the bowl of noodles). The kind serving staff noticed our obvious uncertainty regarding what to do with this, and she informed us (no mean feat given a complete verbal communications breakdown) that we were supposed to pour a little of the icy soup into the noodles, and drink the rest of it separately. We had no problems with mixing a little bit into the noodles, but we found drinking it on its own, rather bizarre to say the least, as it was a very alien taste: salty, watery, icy; soup; we didn’t finish that.
Post-meal, we were each given a complimentary glass of shik hae, a sweet-ish rice drink typically drank after a heavy meal during the hot summer period. It was indeed, very refreshing, but a tad too sweet; we diluted it a little with cold water.
Altogether, the meal cost KRW77,000, one of the more expensive meals we had in S.Korea. To be fair though, beef is more expensive than pork, and while I personally preferred the flavour of the hanu beef in Seo Seo Galbi, we get to sit down in Bonsuwon, plus there’s banchan and rice!
• In case I wasn’t clear enough: Seo Seo Galbi was very good!
• Nonetheless, Bonsuwon was pretty damn good too, and is a more complete meal in terms of other food available and ambience.
• The problem with barbecued meals like this: the smell lingers on clothes.
• We didn’t get a chance to try out galbi-tang or galbi-jigae, which is ribs in a clear soup or thick stew respectively, due to lack of time. Hopefully, we’ll get to fix that on a future holiday ☺
Bonsuwon Galbi (본수원)
Add: 51-20, Uman-dong, Paldal-gu, Suwon, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Tel: +82 31211 8434
Operating hours: 11:30-22:30