[FOOD COURT] Find tasty food at affordable prices in western Seoul’s Sinchon
Sinchon in western Seoul is one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in the capital city and a popular area for students to hang out. This isn’t just because Sinchon has department stores, shopping outlets and various forms of entertainment, but it is also because it is located close to Ewha Womans University, Sogang University and Yonsei University.
With all those students gathered in one place there is a definite need for a range of affordable, tasty restaurants. The Korea JoongAng Daily hit the streets of Sinchon to seek out the best spots for the hungry student, as recommended by current students at Yonsei University.
Although there are several Mifendang branches in the Greater Seoul area, Mifendang in Sinchon was where it all started. Mifendang is a Vietnamese restaurant that sells pho noodles and other Vietnamese side dishes like cha gio (fried spring roll).
Those who like to eat alone or at least with a bit of piece of quiet might enjoy Mifendang, as most of the guests visit the restaurant to eat alone. If you are visiting with a friend, try to whisper to one another instead of talking in a loud voice — in fact, Mifendang requires customers to keep their voice down so as not to disturb people eating alone. This rule also applies when talking to staff.
Another feature about Mifendang that visitors love is the amount of meat and vegetables that comes in the restaurant’s pho, leaving visitors more than satisfied and full at the end of their meal. But if what they serve is not enough, don’t worry — as you can ask for unlimited noodles and soup for free. You can ask for cilantro if you want it, but it doesn’t normally come as standard.
The restaurant’s most basic dish chadolbagi pho (with thinly sliced beef brisket) starts from 9,000 won ($7), but if you would like more beef, try the chadolyangji pho (with thinly sliced and regular brisket for 10,500 won) or chadolyangjihimjul pho (with thinly sliced beef brisket, regular brisket and slices of tendon for 11,000 won).
Mifendang is quite small, so visitors may have to wait to be seated — especially if they are visiting during dinner hours. However, the restaurant’s visitors come and go quite quickly, so you won’t have to wait for too long. Your meal is served almost as soon as you are seated, so even if the wait outside is long, the wait for food won’t be.
26-7 Yonsei-ro 5-gil, Seodaemun District, western Seoul
Business hours: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. (break time from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.)
Phone number: 02) 3141-9494
Taco Loco in Sinchon is a popular Mexican restaurant with Yonsei University students, as its food is relatively authentic without any unnecessary attempts at fusion. The restaurant serves a variety of Mexican dishes that are a steady favorite, like enchiladas, tacos, chimichangas and burritos.
Regular visitors all have their own reasons as to why they love Taco Loco so much, but one of the things that Taco Loco visitors continuously mention is that the restaurant offers good value for money. One example is Taco Loco’s enchiladas (9,000 won to 10,000 won), stuffed with beef, chicken or avocado, rice and cheese while soaked in different types of sauce and served with a side of vegetables.
As the restaurant’s hot sauce has more of a sweet and sour taste than spicy, those who can’t handle much spice can try their enchiladas and any other dish that includes hot sauce without being intimidated. The hot sauce and the vegetables served on the side minimize the food’s greasiness as well.
If you like to have a lot of vegetables with your tacos and burritos or enjoy the crunchiness of the lettuce inside these foods, Taco Loco will be your go-to restaurant as they not only serve plenty of lettuce with their tacos but also make sure everything is very fresh. Taco prices range from 3,500 won to 4,500 won and burrito prices range from 8,000 won to 9,500 won.
While Taco Loco’s dishes normally aren’t served with cilantro, you can ask for it to be added. Another pro tip is to visit during Taco Loco’s lunch hours (11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.) on weekdays, as you can get fries and a drink with your meal for just 1,000 won more.
Taco Loco has a limited number of seats. If you visit during lunch or dinner hours you may have to wait to be seated — so if you want to avoid the wait, it’s best to go a little earlier.
37 Yonsei-ro 7 an-gil, Seodaemun District, western Seoul
Business hours: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. on weekdays (last order at 9 p.m.), 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. on weekends (last order at 8 p.m.)
Phone number: 02) 333-6469
Karamenya is a famous Japanese ramen restaurant in Sinchon that’s almost always full of diners. It is a space that welcomes people dining alone or in groups, as it has both large and bar tables. Karamenya’s interior is designed to look like a late-night ramen restaurant in Fukuoka, Japan. Along with the ramen dishes, Karamenya also serves draft beer and menchikatsu, or croquettes stuffed with beef, as a bar snack.
Karamenya has ramen for both spice-lovers and non-spice lovers. Bonramen (8,500 won) is what most people would consider the most classic type of ramen, served with chashu (roasted pork), shoyu tamago (eggs marinated with soy sauce), bamboo shoots and green onions.
Karamen (9,000 won) is the restaurant’s spicy ramen, and is also recommended as the perfect hangover cure by the chef. If you choose to order Karamen, you can choose from five different spice levels.
If you’re not in the mood for warm soup, Karamenya also sells Mazesoba (10,000 won), or a dry noodle dish topped with minced meat, gim (seaweed laver), chives, garlic stems, green onions, garlic, egg yolk and sauce that has a hint of spice.
For those who want extra toppings for their dish, you can order extra noodles (1,500 won for ramen, 2,500 won for mazesoba), chashu (2,000 won for ramen, 2,500 won for mazesoba) and tamago (500 won). Or if you have finished the ramen and there’s nothing but soup left, you can ask for a bowl of rice to have with the remaining soup for free.
34-1 Yonsei-ro 7 an-gil, Seodaemun District, western Seoul
Business hours: 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. (break time from 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. only on weekdays, may close early once sold out)
Phone number: 0507-1320-6221
Many avid YouTube viewers may recognize Gosame from its appearance on Studio Suze’s “Repeat Restaurant” series, starring famous YouTuber Pungja. However, even before that appearance, Gosame was popular with university students for its grilled fish and ojingeo bokkeum, or stir-fried squid in chunjang, or black sauce.
The various side dishes and miyeokguk (seaweed soup) leave visitors full and happy, making the restaurant a steady favorite.
Gosame sells two different types of grilled fish, godeungogui (11,000 won), or grilled mackerel, and samchigui (13,000 won), or grilled Spanish mackerel. Both are highly praised for their freshness and for texture — crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.
The ojingeo bokkeum (11,000 won) may taste spicy to some people, but the bowl of rice and miyeokguk on the side helps to numb the spiciness. If you wish to have something other than miyeokguk, the restaurant also serves doenjang jjigae (fermented soybean paste stew), sundubu jjigae (soybean curd stew) and kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew). Boricha, or Korean barley tea, is also served at Gosame instead of regular water to help get rid of the greasy aftertaste from eating grilled fish.
Gosame is packed with visitors at meal times. If you want to avoid the wait, it’s best to go early.
38 Yonsei-ro 7 an-gil, Seodaemun District, western Seoul
Business hours: 11 a.m. – 8:40 p.m. (break time from 2:50 p.m. – 5 p.m., last order is at 8:10 p.m.)
Phone number: 02) 324-1403
BY LEE JUNG-JOO [firstname.lastname@example.org]