In Seoul, where Korean soup is almost gospel, the brothy dish is not to be missed. Korean soup, or guk, as we know it, is an essential part of the country’s culture. Many culinary experts in Seoul believe that, along with kimchi and rice, no meal is complete without soup. There are hundreds of different kinds of Korean soup, and in Seoul, that now includes modern takes on traditional classics. Here are five places to try a bowl:
This modern Korean hotspot is spearheaded by owner Tony Yoo, who opened up shop in Seoul after fine-tuning his chops as a Michelin-starred chef in London and San Francisco. All soups here are served with seasonal, organic ingredients. The restaurant is located in the heart of Bukchon Hanok Village, and serves up dishes inspired by ancient cuisine eaten by Korean Buddhists. And, by the way, this restaurant has a Michelin star.
Cheong Jin Ok
Popular with millennials, this youthful joint has a retro vibe. It’s busy on Sunday afternoons, as it’s known for having the best hangover soup in town, which is called haejangguk. The hearty soup is filled with simmered beef bone, cabbage, and vegetables. Their mung-bean pancakes are also succulent. The restaurant is legendary beyond its menu — it’s also a local landmark, having first opened in 1937, and sees regular visits from government officials, royals, and celebrities.
They serve one dish only, and they do it well. Hadongkwan is known for being the city’s leading venue for a bowl of traditional gomtang: sliced beef soup with rice and green onion. This restaurant has been serving locals since 1939 and their recipe dates back even further, to the 17th century king’s favourite dish. There are different ways to eat it, and Hadongkwan serves it by adding leeks, kimchi and radish. A perfect lunch hotspot, finish off your meal with a warm mug of Hadongkwan barley tea before going about your afternoon.
Welcome to the oldest restaurant in Seoul, which opened in 1904. Set in the district of Jongno, which is close to Gyeongbokgung Palace and the famous Jogyesa Buddhist temple, Olympic athletes have been known to drop in here for dinner. The folks here are known for serving seolleongtang, or ox bone soup, which simmers for more than 15 hours. Try it with a side of kkakdugi, or cubed radish kimchi, before heading out to the nearby Gwangjang markets for desserts.
Just a short walk from Seoul’s City Hall, this hotspot has been around since 1965. They’re known for serving up a legendary bowl of traditional kong-guksu, which is cold bean noodle soup served in a creamy soy milk broth. Here, it's made from freshly ground soybeans, which are harvested in the Gangwon Province. They serve it year-round, despite it being typically a summer dish. Don’t come here if you’re hangry, however: There are usually line ups that snake down the street, but it’s worth the wait.
Want to tuck into a bowl of Korean soup in Seoul? G Adventures can get you there. Check out our small group tours to South Korea here.