The usual Korean trip itinerary consist of barbecue meats, shopping and some visits to theme parks/museums/palaces. Not many include a traditional Korean meal called Hanjeongsik.
After 3 trips to South Korea, I finally experienced Hanjeongsik, a full-course Korean meal with savoury side dishes. It is commonly served for the royals and aristocrats, where there are multiple courses and many dishes per course.
Types of dishes varies significantly according to seasons and regions but generally the meal starts with cold appetisers and gruel, followed by the main dishes which are either grilled, boiled, steamed, fried or salted.
Hot pots are included as well, and of course Korean liquor.
Asians At Work. 😀
BELOW: 1st course: Clockwise from top left – fried fish in sweet sour sauce, cold noodles, raw fish, salad, cold pork belly, greens with a type of bean curd (tasted like vegetarian mock meat), japchae, sweet potato mash.
** The description I gave are general descriptions as it’s tedious to note the Korean names for each and every dish. Besides, we were really hungry!
Needless to say a typical Hanjeongsik meal is lavish and every dish is well prepared.
Our Hanjeongsik dinner took place in one of the back alleys of Insadong. While tourists scour the main street of Insadong for art, souvenir, galleries, fashion and tea shops, the back alleys does spring some unexpected surprises.
Peeking into a tea house.
This is Insadong Chon, a very pretty restaurant with high ceilings, timber structure and finishes. It exudes a very homely feel with strong evocative of yesteryear. The lighting is comfortably dim and the seating arrangements cosy; whether for a dinner for 2 or a large gathering of friends.
Here are the close up shots of our first course. If any of you are able to share with me the Korean names of the dishes, I would really appreciate it and I’ll update this post with a mention of your ‘contribution’. 🙂
Fish in sweet and sour sauce.
Ok, this one I can manage – it’s Japchae.
The mash sweet potatoes.
Salad with the dried beancurd. All of us loved the dressing for this one.
Fresh fish sashimi style.
The cold marinated pork belly.
Sweet and sour fried prawns. This tasted almost similar to our Chinese sweet sour sauce.
Smoked salmon (top) and honeyed pumpkin.
Fried battered sweet potato.
Lightly seared tuna in some fabulous sauce. I really wished I could speak Korean then! I would have interviewed the chef.
The 3rd course was laid out on the table after that. A variety of bachan and a piping hot soup – Soondubujiggae, a spicy broth that infuses custardy tofu with complex flavors and spices plus hot chewy rice round up what is characteristically a Korean meal.
I think this fish is unique to this part of the globe too. It has many fine bones but you’re awarded for your patience with firm, moist, white sweet flesh. I wouldn’t mind 3-4 of these fishes if it weren’t for the pesky bones.
The rice pot of which our rice was cooked in is filled with water after the rice is scooped out for our main course. This water is left to rest while we enjoy our main course. At the end of our meal, the water is poured into a cup and served to us as a drink.
It may sound weird but the drink is actually pretty nice as the water has a roast-y, mild rice flavour due to the charred bottom of the pot. Overall it is comparable to a roasted barley drink.
A typical Hanjeongsik could cost from 15,000 won (RM45) to 90,000 won (RM270) per pax depending on the course you chose. Budget accordingly and treat yourself to a feast like nobility in a traditional Hanok restaurant at least once when you’re in Seoul! 🙂
Insadong Sam Gil, Seoul, Korea
Phone: 02 720 4888
TRAIN: Exit 3 of Jong-gak Station or Exit 6 of Ahn-guk Station.
*This wonderful experience was a part of our Asian On Air itinerary during our media familiarization trip organized by KTO Malaysia and Korean Air in October 2013.
Stay tuned as I’ll update more on my trip over the next few weeks!
For other travel adventures, please swing by my travel page –> http://www.rebeccasaw.com/travel/!