Really Good Thoughts 참좋은생각

Really Good Thoughts. That’s the name of this place. Believe me it sounds better in Korean: 참좋은생각.

There are two spectacular bits to this restaurant: atmosphere and food. It’s located about an hour out of Seoul by car, and yet every month or so my family makes the trip out for lunch, and every time I go it’s packed full of bored-looking middle aged women (아주마들). The name, as corny as it is, is fitting. Located next to a beautiful lake and in a remote location, the atmosphere is peaceful, tranquil even. The restaurant itself is a mix of old fashion decorations and new furniture. The best words to describe it are ‘pleasant’ and ‘homely’. Inside the restaurant the restaurant is littered with well maintained flowers and other flora. And outside there are many garden sitting areas and even a pond with a fountain.

This place is simple traditional Korean food at its best. Most traditional Korean restaurants don’t offer any options, or few. This place offers the choice of duck (오리), pork (돼지), or none (왤빙). Served along with these items are an array of wonderfully crafted other common Korean items. The special part about this place is that everything is just amazing. I’ve had many Korean teas, many japchaes, many of all these things, but this place just does it right. For example, traditionally japchae it typically flavored with soy sauce and an array of other vegetables that produce the bulk of the flavor. Here it is only made with bean sprouts and no soy sauce and yet they’ve woven their dark magic somehow and produced an incredible dish.

Unfortunately I failed to get a picture of the 동동주, which is absolutely stellar here. 동동주 (dongdongju) is very similar to 막걸리 (makgeolli) but is typically made in the restaurant or nearby and so is fresher.

When given a choice most Koreans I know opt for dongdongju. I’ve listed the dishes in the order they’re presented and labeled them with their Korean names. Enjoy.

둥굴레 차

죽 & 동치미


도토리 무침


오리 & 돼지

Wrap it up!

된장찌개 식사

Seriously all middle aged women.

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(031)774-7577, 773-7127
경기도 양평군 강하면 전수리 1078-1
(this place is so Korean they write their URL in Korean and it only works in Internet Explorer)

Some caveats: It’s almost impossible to get here without a car. And it’s very difficult to order without a beginners level of Korean. But you can of course use the point and grunt method.


Vatos Urban Tacos

Vatos opened to incredible success in Itaewon in November of 2011. For the next year and a half I vehemently stayed away and kept all my friends away from what I thought was abhorrently overpriced and mediocre Mexican food. But I always wondered why the line was so long. I assumed that atmosphere, buzz, and momentum were somehow keeping this new restaurant afloat but that any moment Vatos would slow down and level out. But that never happened. Even today I regularly see lines at the door, despite their expanding to a much larger store.

Despite my efforts, my friends once in a while have succeeded in dragging me there. I’ve always left hungry, sober, and poor. Value is important to me. I don’t mind paying for a restaurant as long as the food and drinks equal my perceived price point. But Vatos never did that. Perhaps because I’m from San Diego I expect to get so full that I hate myself from a $5 burrito.

With all that said, I went to Vatos again yesterday and actually had a good time. Though I still think everything is overpriced, the portions are too small, and the drinks too weak, I can understand its lasting appeal. It has good food, drinks, and atmosphere. Also it has no immediate competition in the area. There are a few good Mexican spots down the hill from Noksapyeong station, going towards Kyunglidan, but they’re small and can’t offer a similar atmosphere.

Yesterday I went with my good buddy Brian and his friend Soojin from Canada. We started with the some drinks and Kimchee Fries, which is the only real thing on the menu I think is fantastic. It’s a delicious bowl of fatty, diabetes causing goodness.

Kimchi Fries 11,500W

My apologies about the picture quality. We were sitting near the back where it was very dark so I had to light with my phone. Brian got the Corona Rita and Soojin the Dae Han Mango. Both said they liked it. I had a taste of the Corona Rita and felt like it tasted just like Corona. Actually I had to ask the server if they make the Margarita with alcohol, he laughed and said yes. But his laugh was in a way that indicated that I wasn’t the first one to ask. I got the Craftworks Geumgang Mountain Dark Ale. I really like Craftworks’ beer. Someday I’ll have to head over and do a review.

Dae Han Mango (Dos Equis + Mango Margarita) 17,400W + Corona Rita (Corona + Classic Margarita) 15,400W

Craftworks Geumgang Mountain Dark Ale 7,500W

For our mains:

Braised Carnitas Tacos 8,000W
I got these, and they were great. But again, small. I’m fat, and they’re small. It’s a bad combo.

Classic Carne Asadas Tacos 9,000W

These were pretty good too, but thought the meat was a bit sweet.

Classic Chicken Burrito 9,000W

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Pricey with small portions and weak drinks. But quality food and great atmosphere that makes up for its weaknesses.

English Name: Vatos Urban Tacos
Korean Name: 바토스
English Address: Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-dong 181-8 2nd Floor, Seoul Korea
Korean Address: 서울시 용산구 이태원동 181-8 2층
Phone Number: 02-797-8226
Popular Items: Kimchi Fries, Margarita/Beer Drinks, Tacos
Hours: M-F 10:30AM–10PM (Break Time : 2PM – 5PM) S-S 10:30AM–11PM
Exit Itaewon Station Exit 1 and walk straight for 5 minutes, then it’s on the right side. If you hit Noksapyeong Stn you went too far.
Or find this restaurant on the map.

Cirilo – Delicious and Overpriced Mexican Food » Dining AddictionAugust 27, 2013 - 11:11 PM

[…] 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 […]

Pizzeria D’Buzza 부자피자 – Simple, Incredible Pizza

Pizzeria D’Buzza is famous mostly for its three week reservation wait list. However, it’s not so incredible if you consider there are only about 12 tables and half of the guests are walk ins. But the real important question is: is it worth it? Yep. I think so. Luckily my friend was taking me out for my birthday and reserved 3 weeks in advance.

They don’t do anything necessarily incredible here – just good, fresh ingredients, cooked properly. They let the flavors speak for themselves and so don’t need to mask anything with over-seasoning. Some great information and detailed menu ingredients are available at the official website.

Buzza’s Salad

We started with Buzza’s Salad, an excellent assortment of slightly bitter greens lightly seasoned with olive oil, accompanied by fresh baked bread. I’m a huge fan of this salad and bread combination. Win. Also the generous mozzarella portions were wonderful.

Quattro Funghi – Mozzarella, 4 Kinds of Mushroom, White Truffle Oil

This pizza was as good as the ingredients sound. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned, and just let the flavors speak for themselves. The mushrooms were tasty, not overpowering, and the truffle oil was a perfect complement. Overall, very amazing.


Service was great. My server spoke perfect English and Korean and was attentive. When asked for a refill on condiments he brought out a large portion, and had some wet napkins in his pocket for quick delivery when we requested.

My one complaint is that this place doesn’t have a wine list, and serves their house wine in very unsexy little water cups. Seriously? What kind of restaurants gets every part of their business right and then jacks up on one of the most profitable portions. I suppose this is to keep turnover high and keep the drinking loungers out, but why not just expand to another location and get some more tables? Some business models I’ll never understand. On the upside, the house wine was quite nice and got my thick head spinning; it must have been at least 14.5% alchy.

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Pizzeria D’Buzza 부자피자

3 Locations

Hangangjin 1
743-33 Hannam-dong Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 용산구 한남동 743-33

Hangangjin 2
3F 740-1 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 용산구 한남동 740-1 3층

Galleria Department Store B1. Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 강남구 압구정동 494번지 갤러리아 서관 지하 1층


Hanchu (한추) – Best Fried Chicken and Stuffed Peppers in Seoul

The Best Chicken in Seoul. Yes, I said it. I’ve been to dozens of fried chicken places. I once even traveled two hours after my friend told me he found the best chicken in Korea. He was wrong. This is the best. Hanchu is short for Hanchan-eh chu uk 한잔의 추억, which means A Good Drinking Memory. Or something like that. Or… One Drink’s Good Memory.

For a country that is ridiculously obsessed with weight loss, Korean’s love their fried chicken. Equally odd, this restaurant is located off of 가로수길 street, the epicenter of malnourished, insecure, wanna-be models. It’s located around the corner from the new Forever 21 on 가로수길, the famous fashion street between Sinsa Station and Apgujung Station.

We went on a Saturday evening around 6pm and the place was only a quarter full. But that quarter could have easily filled most of chicken houses I’ve been to. This place is huge. When I first came to Korea my friend told me one golden rule about eating out: “if the restaurant is empty, don’t eat there”. Makes sense. More patrons shows success. It also leads to higher turnover and fresher food. By the time we left at 7 every seat in the house was full.

This is about half the restaurant:

Notably, Hanchu doesn’t have the typical Korean fried chicken house smell. I’m not sure how to describe it, but most chicken places in Korea have this strange, queasy, sweet swell that wafts down the street. It smells unnatural. This place had no smell, just great chicken, and peppers.

Fried Chicken (후라이드) 17,000₩
The chicken was lightly battered and fried perfectly. Nice and crispy on the outside, soft and fleshy on the inside. Obviously they know what they’re doing. However, what really set this chicken apart is that they fry peppers inside with the chicken. It’s a very subtle change, but it cuts that sweetness that is sometimes hard to bear when eating lots of chicken.

Fried Green Pepper w/ Pork (고추튀김) 13,000₩
The fried peppers were the highlight. The batter and fry were… deathly. In a way, it’s quite dangerous because I’m very often in Apgujung, and now I’m going to be here all the time. The fry was really perfect. Perhaps I’ve just had so much pre-fried garbage in Korea that now that I taste a properly battered/fried piece it’s like eating it for the first time. I’ve really never had anything better fried. The inside stuffing was great also, but the fry really set it apart.

On our last piece of chicken I found a hair baked into the chicken. Seeing as how it was the last piece and we were all full I wasn’t going to say anything, but Mike thought otherwise and asked the owner what he could do for us. Even though we had just finished the entire plate, he offered to give us a full dish of chicken to go. When we said we didn’t want the chicken, he brought over some cider.

A couple of weeks ago, on the night of my night actually, we were at Lemon Terrace in gangnam and got some nachos. In the picture on the menu, the nachos looked like nachos – chips, salsa, sour cream, cheese, etc. But when we got it, it was nachos, cheese, and chocolate. Okay…we thought. It kind of looks like balsamic vinegar… we all tried it and all agreed it was bloody inedible. Actually, disgusting. Actually, coming from San Diego and the best Mexican food outside of Mexico, it was somewhat offensive. Anyhow, we explained this to the manager and she refused to give us something else on the menu.

As that was the last time I dealt with a customer service, this manager’s charismatic generosity was much appreciated.

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The best fried chicken and stuffed peppers in Seoul. Hands down.
15,000₩ each

English Name: HanChu
Korean Name: 한추 (한잔의 추억)
English Address: 549-9 Shinsa-dong Gangnam-gu Seoul
Korean Address: 서울 강남구 신사동 549-9
Phone Number: 02.3446.5778
Popular Items: Stuffed Peppers, Fried Chicken
Hours: 5pm-3am

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Biking Along the Han River

The Han River is, IMHO, the most beautiful outdoor area in Seoul. To be sure, Seoul can boast many gorgeous parks and lush mountains, but for me, the Han reigns. Perhaps because I spent the good majority of my last 26 years on San Diego’s beaches, I appreciate the sound of running water and some sand between my toes. Also as I watch the sunset over the Han I can pretend I’m watching the sunset over the Pacific. (What the hell am I doing in Korea?)

We took the bus to Express Bus Terminal Station (line 2) (고속터미널역) and walked north until we hit the river. From there we walked west along the river for about 20 minutes and found some beat up looking bikes and rented 1 single for 3,000₩ /hr and 1 tandem for 6,000₩ /hr. Be sure to ride some around, check the air in the tires, and choose the best one. Also I couldn’t fit my moderately lengthed legs on the rear seat (I’m 5″10′, or for those of you who have been in Korea too long, 177cm”). The first tandem I chose was really a lemon and probably would have killed us. Unfortunately the second one turned out to be uncomfortable too and by the time we all got back our asses were rubbed out. All you need is some cash and an ID. One ID for 2 bikes worked for us.

We biked from Express Bus Terminal to the 63 building before we turned back. It only took us about an hour and there were no real challenging areas. Pretty flat the whole way.

The famous 63 building.

We also happened to run into the Seoul Opera Festival. It was playing next to these three new buildings. I can’t seem to find what they are on the web so if anyone has any info please pass it along. But as the opera festival was going on one of the buildings did a pretty fantastic light show. Check out the video.

I just did a photo shoot at the Han a few weeks back and figured I’d share some. If you didn’t know, I am a professional portrait and event photographer. Check out the rest of the shoot here.

Here’s another post about riding along the Han River.

What else does the Han offer? For some information from Wikipedia look here. Here’s a short list off the top of my head:

– Bike Rentals
– Basketball courts, volleyball courts, grass fields
– Convenience stores aplenty
– Water Fountain Bridge (only one in the world that I know of)
– 63 building
– River boat tours (did this last year on my birthday)

One my goals is to explore the Han more this summer. So as I explore I’ll be sure to write some more.

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