Hurdy Gurdy – Italian Goodness

Hurdy Gurdy easily wins the award for biggest discrepancy between food quality and restaurant name quality. I really want to know who’s idea HURDY GURDY was. I almost want to not review this place just because this disgusts me. Korea has a long tradition of ugly sounding English named businesses. In fairness, 허디거디, the Korean translation, doesn’t sound quite as disgusting, but still, it’s not pleasant.

Hurdy Gurdy is a modern style diner with fusion Italian food. It’s recently gained quite a following in Korea and has expanded, through franchises, to over 20 locations throughout Korea. The Gangnam location I visited is it’s most recent opening just this May. If I didn’t know the cuisine I’d have never assumed this place served Italian cuisine. Clubbing music (mix between house-Benni-Bennasi-style, and hip hop) bumps through the speakers, neon lights decorate the ceiling, and waitresses sport short shorts. The atmosphere of this place is the real draw. It’s exciting, modern, lively, all things a restaurant should be.

This location is a bit hard to find, but look up to the 3rd floor for the sign. You have to go into the office building and make your way up the escalator.

The food is good. I wouldn’t say exceptional, but a solid good. I know that doesn’t sound all that exciting, but neither is the food. But I’d definitely go again. The bread was.. GOOD. Fresh, soft, and tasty. But again, nothing special.

Pork Pineapple Pilaf 18,000w

The portions here are actually meant for 1.5 people. They say 2, but I say 1.5. So everything is meant to be shared. It doesn’t look that big in this photo but that spoon is actually a large serving-sized spoon.

Pork Steak Salad 20,000w

I really have no idea why they call this a salad, perhaps they’ve forgotten the definition. But this is some Pork Steak with some salad on the side. Overall very good. Nice and tender, nicely flavored.

Basil Olive Pasta 16,000w

And the highlight of the meal, this Basil Olive Pasta was fantastic. We actually had only 3 people in our party so we ordered the above two items but were still a bit hungry so ordered this. It was a bit too much, but we manned up and finished everything. This pasta was very nice. The flavors are all amazing and came through nicely with just the right amount of salt.

Check out their website for more locations and to see their whole menu.

My apologies for a lack of posts lately. I haven’t been visiting many new and interesting places. This blog only documents the places I really love and frankly I go back to the same places quite often. For example I go to Little Papa Pho at least three times a week. Usually I go alone and I’m pretty the workers there think I have some addiction problem. Which I do.

There are many locations throughout Seoul and Korea. The one I went to is below:

서초구 서초동 1303-16 아이파크에비뉴2층
1303-16 Seochogu Seochodong, I-Park Avenue 2F
11am-11pm (12a on weekends)


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The Booth – Pizza n Beer

Today I’m very excited to introduce a newer restaurant in the Kyunglidan scene – The Booth. They’ve also very recently opened a location in Gangnam. I’m always a fan of simplified menus – it’s better to get a couple things right than to get many things wrong. The Booth takes this philosophy to it’s purest form, serving only two types of pizza and two types of beer. So in total there are only 4 things on the menu. I suppose a salad might be nice, but simple is great, pizza and beer. And man… the pizza and beer here are amazing.

It’s a moderately small place with seating for about 20-25. The interior is uniquely decorated with packaging crates as tables and odd boxes and other things for chairs. The walls are painted corner to corner by someone with a wild artistic hand. It’s gaudy, but tasteful. It can take a few moments to figure out your seating arrangement and I could see how it could make some uncomfortable, but overall I approve. Typical Korean places tend to keep people separated as much as possible. Even in drinking spots, parties are  separated as much as possible by dividers, booths, screens, and whatnot. This is to create a feeling of intimacy within groups. But the Booth throws this tradition and forces people to acknowledge each other by putting seats in hard to reach places or directly next to each other. Many of the tables are large and by necessity people have to sit next to strangers. I went here for the first time exactly one week ago on Monday and went back two more times, and the people and workers have been very nice. It also helps that I brought Toby and only heartless heathens can refrain from rubbing his goofy face.

Bills Pale Ale 5,000w

I don’t know who Bill is, but I want to meet and thank him profusely. This is the best Pale Ale I’ve ever had in Korea. Apparently Bill makes it himself. It reminds me of an old favorite of mine in San Diego, Stone Pale Ale. The flavor is full, robust, and crisp. And at 5,000w for a pint, it’s priced perfectly. Thank you, The Booth, and Bill, seriously, thank you. This is what exactly what Korea needs.

Pepperoni Pizza 3,500w

The Booth serves two kinds of pizza, Pepperoni and Cheese. They try to keep inventory to a minimum, so I’ve had to wait 5 or 10 minutes a couple times. But that’s normal for a restaurant anyhow and fresh pizza is the best pizza. Yesterday I was a bit low of time and so opted for a Cheese pizza which was already prepared rather than wait 10 minutes for a pepperoni. I should have just waited. The cheese was good, but straight-out-of-the-oven is always better. Anyway, and again at 3,500w it’s priced just fine. Full pies are 18,000w.

For condiments there are red pepper, hot sauce, and parmesan cheese. Sorry, forgot to get a photo of the others. But, red pepper… that’s all I really need. And its served in the correct bottle size. :) For those who know me, I’m a hot sauce / pepper freak. When I was young my dad would ask me if I wanted some taco with my hot sauce.

Toby was very happy when one of the workers said I could bring him inside.

Mike was happy too. By the way, this is at ISO 6400 with my Fuji x100s… love this camera.

Hefeweizen 6,000w

Even though I don’t typically like Hefes I had to try it. And yeah, I didn’t like it. But that may not be the beer’s fault. I just don’t like sweet drinks.

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The Booth – Kyunglidan

705 Itaewon-dong Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울시 용산구 이태원동 705
Everyday Noon-1am

The Booth – Gangnam

1330 2F Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울시 서초구 서초동 1330 2층
Everyday 11:30am-1am

Seoulemon | The BoothSeptember 5, 2013 - 10:53 PM

[…] dining addiction […]

Suejahn YoonSeptember 25, 2013 - 11:19 PM

I love how you and Mike hang out together in Korea. Cheers to old friends!

The Hill Cafe

This blog is all about the places in Seoul I treasure. Any city takes a long time to discover and it’s my pleasure to just share the things I love. Christian’s talk a lot about joy being complete when it’s shared. In other words a big step in the enjoyment of something is sharing it with others. So the places I feature here aren’t necessarily the absolute best places, but they’re the ones I love, and the ones I find myself going to repeatedly.

I find myself at this cafe several times a week these days. As a photographer I spend most of my time mind-numbingly editing photos or just procrastinating doing so, so I spend a lot of time reading or editing in cafes. The Hill Cafe is just down the road from my house, has decent drinks, and excellent sandwiches. Also the workers and people who frequent here seem like cool people. So while  it’s not particularly amazing and not worth driving across town for, if you’re in the neighborhood I highly recommend it as a great place to sit back with a book and sandwich.

The coffee is nothing special frankly. (If you’re looking for great coffee, walk down the street to Standing Coffee.) But the sandwiches are great. They’re served on lightly toasted baguettes and have a nice variety of veggies and other meats. I always get it without mayo and with mustard and hot sauce, which is how I like any sandwich. They’re happy to oblige.

In blog news, I’ve found a new way to compress images so now this blog should load about 1/3 faster. Which, in website terms is absolutely huge. Studies have shown that even minute loading time differences can dramatically increase traffic. So now my readership will go from 2 views a day to 3? Yay.

If anyone’s interested I just finished by book pictured here called Korea: The Impossible Country by Daniel Tudor. It’s an excellent introduction to Korean culture from a foreigner’s perspective. Though I’m half Korean, grew up with many Korean friends, and consider myself fairly Korea-knowledgeable I learned a lot and highly recommend it. Also Daniel is a cool guy I had an opportunity to shoot a few months back.

My dog Toby loves The Hill Cafe. :)

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The Hill Cafe
5-753 Yongsan-dong 2ga, Yongsangu, Seoul, Korea
서울 용산구 용산동2가 5-753


Cirilo – Delicious and Overpriced Mexican Food

Oh Mexican food. Why why why are you so bloody expensive in Korea?  Growing up in San Diego I was fortunate to be able to gorge on authentic and reasonably priced Mexican food any time I wanted. Sometimes I’d even drive an hour to cross the border just to get some real Mexican street tacos. In San Diego, real Mexican food was never found somewhere with clean walls and regularly cleaned bathrooms. Nooo, it was always the gritty spots that served the best stuff. But in Korea, most of the Mexican food is corporatized, sanitized, and upsold as a premium product. Damit that’s just not the Mexican way. Mexicans are the most down to Earth, comfortable, casual, and hard working people. I honestly think they’d be sad to see it so corporatized in Korea. Actually, fitting with the Mexican disposition, they probably wouldn’t give a shit.

Anyway, the search continues for great Mexican food, and while I’ll never go back to Cirilo, I’m writing about it because the food is actually damn good. And it’s an option to consider if you don’t want to feed the Vatos machine. To be very clear, the only reason I won’t be going back is because of the price. 11,000 is just too much for a burrito for this to be a regular thing.

The place looks nice on the inside and features a nice balcony on the outside. As this was a beautiful day and the weather is finally starting to cool down Mike and I took a seat outside.

After a short, 5 minute wait or so our food was ready!

Al Pastor Fries 13,500w
Al Pastor Burrito 10,500w
Carne Asada Burrito 11,000w
TOTAL: 35,000w

So everything tasted great. The fries and toppings were great and reminded me a lot of the Kimchi Fries from vatos, minus the kimchi. But that’s okay, frankly I don’t even like the kimchi with those fries. But, as has been my gripe, the plate is extremely small for 13,500w. I’d pay 7,000w for it.

I had the Al Pastor Burrito and Mike had the Carne Asada. We both found the flavors to be balanced, the meat to be juicy, and the portion size to be good. After the meal and despite the fries being really small, we were both full and satisfied. Also I really like the hot sauce. Mike is convinced it’s tomatillo or tomatillo based but I wasn’t as sure. Anyway, it’s good stuff though and I ate more than I should have. I’m sure I’ll regret it later tonight.

Full and happy!

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서울시 용산구 동빙고동 10-8

Sulwyn LimAugust 28, 2013 - 4:05 AM

Great recs on the blog, and amazing pictures! I checked out Hanchu fried chicken at Garosu-gil while in Seoul last week, and it was pretty good :) Keep the reviews coming!

Kenneth YoonSeptember 2, 2013 - 2:45 AM

Hey nice dude you went back!

Matt UnruhSeptember 4, 2013 - 2:40 PM

I agree with most of what you said, though I still thought the burrito was a little small compared to other places and of course California. I much prefer Taco Amigos (Do I assume you have been there?).

Brian SounalathSeptember 10, 2013 - 10:30 AM

I googled the exchange rate and 10 dollars doesn’t seem like too much to pay for a great tasting Mexican burrito made by a LA chef in South Korea. In London, I would pay twice that amount for a shitty burrito.

Jangsoo Meat Joint 장수갈비집 – LA Style Korean BBQ

After living in Southern California for 24 years, I was surprised when I came to Korea and realized there are many different styles of “Korean BBQ”. The KBBQ we typically eat in So Cal is soy sauce marinated beef ribs. And actually if you find this specific style of soy sauce marinated beef ribs in Korea it is often labeled “LA 갈비” or Los Angeles beef ribs. Interesting. Well, frankly it is no longer my favorite style of Korean BBQ and lately I’ve been enjoying meat without any marinade or flavoring. But this week I stopped by this joint and had some amazing “LA style” beef ribs, and they were just amazing.

You know you wanna eat that.

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서울시 중구 충무로1가 25-45
Seoul, Jonggu, Chungmuro 1ga 25-45

Dahyon Marina YonAugust 18, 2013 - 6:56 AM

The reason they call it LA 갈비 is because of the style they slice the rib. (you know the ones they slice really thin) I heard it started in LA. The style they do in 장수갈비 is not really the LA 갈비 we refer to in general.