When one thinks of Korea University, one might imagine a quaint neighborhood, famous for makgeolli, a Korean-style rice wine, and buchimgae, a type of pancake.
Despite the decades-old image of the area, there are many hidden gems and charming brunch restaurants around Korea University.
The Korea Herald visited some of the neighborhood's eateries, which were all highly satisfying -- both in terms of taste and value for money. It was well worth the journey to Anam-dong in Seongbuk-gu.
At this modest, cozy stew and salad restaurant located in an alley close to Anam Station on Subway Line No. 6, the menu is simple. There are five kinds of homemade stews -- Hippocrates stew, cream stew, beef stew, sweet pumpkin and black sesame stew -- all of which come with three complimentary pieces of organic bread on the side -- whole rye bread, soft milky bread and pink lemon bread.
The Hippocrates stew is a chicken broth-based tomato and veggie stew, which contains a total of 13 different vegetables -- garlic, broccoli, paprika, carrot, potato, onion, zucchini, salary, cabbage, eggplant and more. The stew also has pieces of chicken breast.
The owner of Hippocrates Soup said he tweaked the recipe of the Hippocrates soup from the Gerson diet, which was invented some 2,000 years ago for healing and nourishing patients.
If you want a healthy stew with a deep taste that is not just delicious but also a filling meal, along with explanations of the food and friendly service, this place is definitely worth a try.
Hippocrates Soup is open everyday except Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Prices range from 8,500 won for the Hippocrates stew to 24,000 won for the ratatouille.
University neighborhood eateries are known for quick and cheap student grub. Pasta is no exception, but finding the same quality as the sophisticated, high-end dining restaurants located around the Gangnam area can be difficult.
Mignon Brunch, however, might just surprise you. The restaurant's most popular dish, mushroom cream gnocchi -- an Italian dough most traditionally made of a simple combination of wheat flour, egg, salt and potato -- is a treat not to be missed.
As soon as the dish arrives at your table, you will be impressed by the enticing aroma of truffle -- it is a feast for both the eyes and the nose. The chewiness of the small lumps of gnocchi blends well with the thick, gooey cream sauce made with grated mushrooms.
The signature home-style banana bread is another must-try item. Served with a piece of butter, the warm banana bread -- it is heated right before serving -- offers the softest and sweetest taste when the top of its crispy outer surface is slathered in butter.
Mignon Brunch is open every day from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., and closes earlier at 3:30 p.m. on weekends. Prices range between 10,000 won to 18,000 won, which is much cheaper than what you might pay for the same dish in the posh Gangnam area.
Who said brunch has to be soup and pasta? Korean bunsik fits perfectly into the brunch category when you think about the food’s likability and composition -- it has both carbs and protein. In that sense, having a set menu of cheese rabokki -- a combo of ramyeon noodles and tteokbokki -- and tuna gimbap will never be the wrong choice for those looking for something more filling than a stew or pasta.
At Goreun Haetsal, one of the most famous bunsik eateries among Korea University students as the shop has been standing there for more than 20 years, the main concept is food that is good value for money.
For students on a restricted budget, bunsik is often a decent meal. However, Goreun Haetsal’s bunsik stands out from other bunsik places, because here, portions are huge. So huge, in fact, that you will frequently see customers sharing only one rabokki and one gimbap.
Peaking inside the kitchen, you can see the staff rolling the gimbap in a matter of seconds, demonstrating the skills that they have built over decades of experience.
The restaurant was renovated two years ago, so you can order and make payments at your table through a tablet PC.
Cheese rabokki and a mouthful of tuna gimbap came to a total of only 11,000 won.
Goreun Haetsal is open every day from 6 a.m. until 11:30 p.m.