[Seoul Food Alley] Wangsimni Gopchang Street lures intestine lovers
Published : May 30, 2019 - 14:27
Updated : May 30, 2019 - 14:37
Seoul’s alleys are filled with eateries specializing in particular dishes. The Korea Herald takes you on a foodie trip to narrow alleys where decades-old establishments beckon diners with their secret recipes, often handed down through generations. -- Ed.

The Wangsimni area, located 3.9 kilometers east of Gyeongbokgung, is a household name for gopchang.

Eating the internal organs of cows and pigs is popular here -- for instance, gopchang (small intestine), daechang (large intestine) and makchang (entrails). Gopchang is often used as a blanket term referring to other types of intestines, too.

One can often find gopchang restaurants that mention Wangsimni in their names, even though they are located in completely different areas. The name Wangsimni gives off an authentic vibe for grilled intestine dishes, as there is a street dedicated to gopchang there. 

Wangsimni Gopchang Street (Lee Sun-hye / The Korea Herald)

Wangsimni Gopchang Street looks different from other old food alleys in Seoul. Instead of being situated in back alleys, the eateries are located on a six-lane road. The establishments are not tiny, worn-down places either. Rather, they are big and clean.

There is a reason for the polished look. The gopchang alley that flourished in the 1990s was relocated to the current area in the early 2010s. The original one was torn down in the late 2000s as part of urban redevelopment.

Restaurants moved into a nearby area, a 10-minute walk from Wangsimni Station, and formed a new cluster. There are six gopchang restaurants in the area now, spread along a 100-meter-long street.

The area is close to Majang Meat Market, the largest wholesale meat market in Korea. In the past, vendors brought leftover meat and intestines from the market and cooked them up into gopchang dishes, building up Wangsimni’s fame.

The restaurants are crowded with office workers on weekday nights and families on weekends. 

Grilled gopchang (Lee Sun-hye / The Korea Herald)

Grilled gopchang (Lee Sun-hye / The Korea Herald)

Those looking for a livelier atmosphere can walk 10 minutes to Hanyang University, where there is another cluster of gopchang restaurants.

Situated in an entertainment district next to the university, these restaurants are frequented by college students. They offer different varieties of gopchang, from those slathered in red sauce and teriyaki sauce with mayonnaise to a plain version.

Usually priced around 10,000 won ($8.40) per person, gopchang is an affordable delicacy. Chewy and fatty, it is a mouthwatering treat. But be warned, it contains a lot of fat. As the fat melts on the fire, the pan fills up with oil, looking as if someone had poured oil directly onto the pan.

By Im Eun-byel (