Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lord Sandwich: How A Sandwich Should Be

I have no idea why Lord Sandwich isn’t the most popular restaurant in all of the Ewha University (or ‘Edae’) area by a landslide victory. As of now, it’s a favored lunch date spot for professors, older female students or business meetings that have run over late, but I sincerely suggest that anyone with a deep appreciation for good food come try it out.

Lord Sandwich is located near the back gate of the school, in the winding alleyways right before the hilly slope that hosts Yonsei’s international college. The architecture of the building is curious and a little absurd, but that—along with the ostentatious name—was what drew me in at first. I went inside with a friend as a joke, but emerged having been to the most worthwhile restaurant on that street. 


What Lord Sandwich has over any other sandwich restaurant is, hands down, the best ciabatta bread in Seoul. It’s what they use for their fantastic sandwiches, but I also usually order a roll on the side as well—it’s only 3,000 won, and comes generously sliced and lightly toasted; they also have them available for take-out. Baked fresh daily, they definitely aren’t like the saccharine Paris Baguette takes on European bread, and this makes all the difference. The sandwiches actually taste like sandwiches: not at all overly sweet, but instead, full of warm grilled flavor with just the right amounts of zest. There are a lot of great vegetarian options as well, like grilled mushroom, which aren’t always the easiest to find in Korea. I’ve had people recommend the Mustard Chicken Sandwich to me several times as a sure option, and as a side note: the Spicy Chicken is very spicy, so be forewarned. 

While I haven’t ever ordered one of their soups, salads or pizzas, I’m still vouching for the menu. The portions are incredibly filling, indulgently ranging from about 7,000 to 10,000 won, and you’ll leave with a full stomach.


Whimsical seriousness overall sets the atmosphere for the place: stately portraits and old historical cartoons line the stone walls, and there’s constantly some classical violin-or-piano piece playing whilst you eat (Paganini played the whole time I last visited).




Western food can be an unmistakable disappointment in many Seoul restaurants—the food is too sweet, or too bland, and often completely overpriced. Everyone I know, though, remarks that the food at Lord Sandwich tastes ‘different’ in a good way. A Parisian friend commented once that the bread was like he was “in France,” which is a pretty lofty compliment considering that this is a city rampant with candied garlic bread baguettes (courtesy of Tous Les Jours). And in my unprofessional, but unenthusiastic, opinion, he’s absolutely right. Lord Sandwich is terrific for anyone who craves a sandwich that tastes exactly how it should.












Directions: take a bus to the BACK GATE of Ewha Women's University and cross over to the side of the street opposite from the university. Walk forward in the direction heading away from Severance Hospital, and make the first left turn. Then turn right to walk in the same direction as you were previously, until you see the Princeton Book Cafe. Make a left and walk, and Lord Sandwich should be on your right.


View Lord Sandwich in a larger map

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jeju Escape

It is not uncommon for Koreans to refer to the island of Jeju as the “Hawaii of Korea,” and while the island makes for a nice getaway from Seoul, it is a far cry from islands of the central Pacific.
A short one hour flight from Seoul lands you in Jeju City, the capital and most populated city on the island. While friendly and relatively clean, it is also a terrible bore. Teeming with Chinese tourists, the only real attraction of Jeju City are the numerous nightclubs and room salons.
The southern coast of Jeju is where the real beauty of the island can be found and one of the best places to stay is the Hyatt Hotel. Located near Jungmun Beach (one of the better beaches on the island), the Hyatt provides for outstanding views and a more relaxing environment. Most families stay at the Lotte Hotel with its small amusement park and waterslides.


Nearby the Hyatt is the Teddy Bear Museum. One of the better museums on Jeju, it is replete with countless numbers of teddy bears dressed up as famous movie stars, politicians and sports figures. The gift shop is very good too.

Jeju is famous for Black Pig (heuk-doe-ji). The pork is smoked over burning hay which allows the smoke to penetrate the meat juices resulting in a flavor much different from regular pork.


One of the best ways to see Jeju is by renting a car – this will allow you to bounce between numerous museums and tourists sites like Halla Mountain or the many waterfalls.




One of the must-see sites on Jeju is the sex museum. If you can stand being approached by seedy-looking niteclub promoters at the front gate, you will find inside that the sex museum is both hilarious and fun.




If you are the adventurous type, you can explore some of the coastal villages along the eastern coast of Jeju Island. There you will find some fantastic seafood restaurants and pristine views uninterrupted by large crowds of tourists.



What makes Jeju Island so alluring is the ease with which a person can escape from the daily grind of Seoul to the solitude of a tranquil island. Casinos, good food, clean air and beaches, and above all, the friendly and relaxed people of Jeju Island who stand in stark contrast to their mainland counterparts.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Spain Club




(Note: I didn't originally intend to write a post about my dinner here, which is why there aren't any pictures to go with it. However, Spain Club is definitely a destination worth looking up so I decided to go ahead and write about it anyway.)
Spain Club is one of the more memorable choices I’ve found amongst the European-style restaurants crowding all of Seoul’s popular neighborhoods these days. This Japanese import (Spain Club originated overseas, and the owner figured that Seoul would be receptive to his food) offers a break from the usual French or Italian fare: Spanish food is hardly commonplace in Seoul and this restaurant is, thankfully, delicious.
All of dishes on the menu are written in Spanish, but easily decipherable, even if you can’t read the Korean descriptions underneath.  As a group of four, my fellow diners and I ordered a salad, a smaller seafood dish and also a pan of mixed seafood paella–which is apparently a bit of a house specialty. We also asked for two glasses of Sangria, which were generous, dark and fruity to taste. 
True to its Spanish roots, there seems to be seafood or ham in at least everything: our salad was the “Ensalada de Tomate y Anchoas,” containing bits of salty anchovy-like fish. The smaller seafood dish was “Gambas al Ajillo,” basically a shrimp scampi, sauteed in a butter-garlic sauce. The shrimp dish was sizzling and bubbling when it arrived, and when we figured it was edible without any risk of burnt tongues, we weren’t disappointed. The shrimp was tender and delicious, without being greasy or overly buttery, which was a definite plus. 
The “Mixta Pela”–a seafood paella (which takes 30-40 minutes to prepare; the waiter warns you as you order)–arrived shortly after we had finished off the shrimp and salad. Stories of the paella, served in portions fitting for about two, aren’t overrated at all. The dish was wonderfully cooked with the perfect combination of flavors, with the salty tang of the seafood balanced out by the subtle, barely-there taste of lemon juice. The mixed paella is an absolute mustI was personally scared that the mussels would give the entire dish a tough, briny flavor, as sometimes happens, but I had nothing to fear. It’s been a long time since I’ve had seafood that was cooked so well and in harmony with the rest of the ingredients. 
Of course, Spain Club isn’t the cheapest restaurant ever. Our meal ran at approximately 80,000 won for the salad, the shrimp dish, the paella and two glasses of wine. This might sound reasonable if the portions weren’t so small: Spain Club isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for a hearty meal. The paella, especially, is deceptive: the layer of rice on the pan is actually fairly thin, and it disappears quickly. Other reviewers seem to share the same opinion regarding the portions, and while many insist Spain Club is “pricey” rather than a “rip-off,” just be warned that you’ll probably leave with a much lighter wallet if you want to leave with a heavier stomach. 
In the end, it’ll probably be manners that keeps you from ordering more and more food. The interior is definitely upscale and classy; it doesn’t rely on cheap aesthetic tricks and is heavy on atmosphere and ambiance. When we went, about half of the first floor was reserved and most of the time, the restaurant is said to be busy (we went for a very early dinner, at about 5:30 on a Monday evening). That’s as good as any for validation of the quality of the restaurant. Spain Club is definitely not to be missed, especially if you’re craving something exciting and new. 

Quick Post: Disappointing Cupcakes at GoodOvening



The cupcake craze seems to have settled down firmly in Seoul: for example–who buys birthday cakes anymore, when a box of trendy, assorted cupcakes is available? All the same, I haven’t made cupcakes a priority and subsequently, I’ve failed to visit any bakeries specializing in them until today, when I was walking down one of the streets branching from Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong and spotted GoodOvening Cupcake. GoodOvening is a chain of cupcake stores in Seoul, with several locations in Hyundai Department stores and three others including the one in Sinsa-dong. They offer buttercream and whipped cream cupcakes, in flavors ranging from “Peanut Pumpkin” to “Chocolate Cloud.”

I sampled “Mint Condition”–a chocolate cupcake topped with airy mint frosting and chocolate chips–and “Red Velvet”–red velvet cake topped with buttercream frosting. And although Korean pastries have probably come a long way from, say, a decade ago, I have to say I was disappointed. Priced at 4,500 won per cupcake and boasting a beautifully designed interior, I was expecting to be blown away. Instead, I was disappointed by the dry, flavorless texture of the actual cake: the one quality that can make or break baked goods. Granted, neither was the worst cupcake I’ve had by any stretch, but they were far too dry.
However, all but the pickiest connoisseurs will probably be charmed enough by GoodOvening’s aesthetic to overlook its flaws. Located off of Garosugil, GoodOvening never promises mouth-watering goodness but instead a small place to chat and share a cupcake with friends while sitting in a fashionable neighborhood. Even the appealingly crisp interior encourages socializing rather than gluttony. If you’re looking for cupcakes as soft comfort food, then GoodOvening will probably do nothing for you. On the other hand, if you’re simply looking for a place to pass time in one of the city’s nicest neighborhoods, then you’ve come to the right place.

Early Morning at the War Memorial of Korea

The fog removed any date stamp upon the city. The honking of car horns, now muffled, and the gleam of towering buildings, momentarily hidden. The wet blanket of the morning fog wraps me as it did early-morning Joseun Dynasty merchants or the wrag-tag South Korean defenders of Seoul, anxiously awaiting an assault from the North. 
A group of elementary school students gather, their hazy silhouettes barely visible, and the only sound making its way through the surrounding blanket of fog is the motherly instructions of a teacher as she corrals her flock. 


The fog begins to lift, and with it the romance of belonging to history disappears. First, the children’s outfits, adorned with cartoon characters, then the ever-loudening sound of car horns, and finally, the skyline of a gleaming city that surrounds the monolithic War Memorial of Korea.
The gates open and the trickle of visitors meander past the inscribed names of those who perished during the Korean War and into the grand entranceway. The young, present out of an obligation to curriculum, and the old, there out of an obligation to those that perished, walk side by side, none in too much of a rush.
Duty, and nationality, being the only commonality between the old and young.


Spanning the entirety of Korean history, the War Memorial strives to make Korean history as approachable as possible.  Murals depict classic scenes of achievement and ingenuity from the early Joseun Dynasty conflicts while miniature dioramas painfully capture the individual struggles of the Japanese occupation, and later, the desperate attempts to defend South Korea from invasion.
Replicas, carefully crafted and placed on display throughout the Memorial, provide a sense of realism and scale for what otherwise would be the distant instruments of bygone eras – understandably, the majority of these replicas are instruments of warfare and subtly reflect Korea’s history of struggle and conflict.

South Korea’s War Memorial is not just a museum, but a tribute and a constant reminder. Amidst the transient chatter of modern South Korea, whether it’s a new pop band or the hosting of another economic conference, the War Memorial of Korea serves to remind South Koreans of the cost they must pay for the freedom they now so eagerly embrace.



Information on War Memorial of Korea

Open every day from 9am to 6pm except on Mondays.

Admission is W3,000.

Directions
[Subway]
Samgakji Station (Subway Lines 4, 6), Exit 12. It is 5min away from the station

[Bus)
NO. 149, 150, 151, 152, 500, 501, 504, 506, 507, 605, 750A, 750B, 751, 752 (Samgakji Station)
NO. 110B, 730, 421 (Main entrance of The War Memorial of Korea)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Garosu-gil: An Introduction (Cork for Turtle)

I admit, despite the pretense and the ridiculous pricing, I’m an avid fan of Sinsa-dong’s garosu-gil. This ‘tree-lined avenue’ is actually a small network of roads and alleyways branching out from one larger street, which also forks off from one of the main Gangnam traffic routes. It’s ritzy and trendy, but unlike Rodeo Street in Apgujeong (only one subway stop away), it’s actually filled and busy with establishments that have something substantial to offer. The space taken up on Rodeo by boring brand-name shoe stores would be given over to French-esque restaurants and architecturally compelling coffee shops on Garosu-gil. The food probably isn’t as worthwhile as their prices suggest (except for a few gems that are designated and noted hotspots), but the clothing boutiques are worth browsing, even just to feast your eyes. And in general, the atmosphere is a lot more colorful and summery than the stern white sidewalks of Apgujeong. Don't get me wrong, I love Apgujeong, but as far as perfect hang-out spots go, I'd suggest forgoing the obvious of Apgujeong for Sinsa-dong. 

My main problem with Garosu-gil is that, once you stray from the main street, it’s hard to know where to find anything in the back alleyways. They’re slightly hilly, and they twist and turn, but they’re pretty impossible to navigate by memory—and often you end up just picking a random restaurant because they all vaguely look the same, and you’ve given up on finding what you were looking for. I’m going to try and make it a personal mission for this blog to un-pack bits of Garosu-gil because hopefully, there’s a lot tucked away that’s worth looking at. As a warm-up, though, I decided to walk fairly far along the main street and try out brunch at Cork for Turtle, Mug for Rabbit.



Cork for Turtle, Mug for Rabbit is a two-part restaurant that features a first-floor café and cupcake shop (Mug for Rabbit) and a second-floor dining room (Cork for Turtle). I’d heard vague compliments about their brunch before, so I decided to give it a try.




Be warned, though: it’s a bit of a typical Gangnam brunch. It’s averagely pricey, aesthetically pleasing and good to taste, but not outstanding. I tried the ‘New Orleans Brunch’ and a friend of mine ordered a buttery risotto with mushroom and herbs. Both were delicious, but not mind-blowing enough to distinguish it from similar contenders all around Seoul. Maybe I’m being a little too harsh in my criticism, though, so don’t get me wrong. The ‘New Orleans Brunch’ is really very good: Cajun chicken, a small salad, and saffron rice; the spiciness of the chicken and the sweet tartness of the salad really balance each other out.



The interior of Cork for Turtle is predictably beautiful—airy and woodsy and warm, all at the same time. The wide-open windows allow for a great view of the trees and the street below, and overall, the brunch experience is chic and satisfying.


Any brunch lover in Seoul knows that it takes a lot of meals similar to this in order to find something worth pointing at and recommending to your friends. In the same way Seoul can be described as a café culture, rather than a real coffee culture, it’s a bistro culture, especially in this part of the city. It’s a great way to pick up contemporary Korean vibes, though, and while foodies might scoff at the faux-European meals, you get to see authentic, young and fashionable Seoul in natural action. Experiencing Seoul for real, in this case, means making a concession with food in some cases and enjoying the aesthetic pleasure of an ideal brunch. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

What the Book? : Seoul's Best English Bookstore


Itaewon is a weird neighborhood—and despite the fact that official tour guides seem to think it’s the Korea that every foreign tourist wants to experience, it’s probably not if you’re looking for any kind of authenticity. On the hand, if you’re a non-Korean resident of Korea, there’s probably going to be some point when you start to miss the comforts of home. As anyone who’s ever lived in a foreign country can tell you, it’s the small things that you used to take for granted that linger in your mind. For example: books in your native language.

Finding an English book in Seoul definitely isn’t the most difficult thing in the world, but it isn’t exactly an exercise in instant gratification either. Most mega-booksellers in Korea like Bandi & Luni’s or Kyobo will have fairly comprehensive English-literature sections, as will most large bookstores found in department stores. At the same time, relying on such businesses is unfortunately terrible hit-or-miss. Even booksellers that share the same corporate brand might vary wildly in terms of what they have in stock: if you’re unlucky, an English-literature section might consist of a few Penguin classics, children’s series, and a few volumes dubious-looking political nonfiction. Last summer, I was browsing the selection at the bookstore in the Yongsan I’Park (which, considering its proximity to the military base, you would assume would have a great English-literature section) when I noticed that Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle—a book I’d never even heard of—was being touted as a #1 American Bestseller. On the other hand, they didn’t have the book I was looking for (Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes), which actually was on the New York Times Bestseller List that summer. 

Either way, imported books in Korea (even at big brand-name booksellers) are devastatingly pricey. This is where Seoul’s best (and possibly only) English bookstore comes in: What the Book?



What the Book? is an all-English bookstore that can be found, perhaps predictably, in Itaewon. Unless there's something great flying extremely low under the radar, there isn't a business in Seoul that can compete in this category. Not only do they have a great, thorough selection of both English non-fiction and fiction, about half the store is dedicated towards used books. This means that you can easily make off with three used volumes for what would be the price of maybe one new book at its Korean sticker price. Honestly, even without the Used section, What the Book? would still be a clear draw for ex-pats.



The store is reminiscent of a fantastic independent-yet-successful business: shelves of fiction take up most of the space, but there’s also displays under subjects like ‘Religion’, ‘Self-Help’, ‘Business’ and other general non-fiction headers. Typical of a Used bookstore, there’s definitely a surplus of paperback romance and science fiction—sold cheap, and at great deals. If you can’t find a book you’ve been wanting to read in Korea, and are loathe to order it through Amazon, chances are that What the Book? will carry it. They seem to have all of the major contemporary authors, as well as poetry and drama (something most Korean booksellers can’t compete with when it comes to this).

Sometimes books are arranged horizontally, stacked on top of each other, signifying that there are too many books for the amount of space. Personally, I think that’s a fantastic sign.



The only major problem I have with What the Book? is that its Used fiction section doesn’t seem to be organized alphabetically, but instead, all of the books authored by people with the same surname initial are found in the same general area. It’s irritating, but certainly not terrible. You just have to scan a few shelves up and down, and sideways, in order to make sure they’re not carrying what you’re looking for.

What the Book? also has a website at which you can order books online and browse their selection, but I would definitely suggest taking a trip to the actual store if you have any time at all. It’s a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by tons of books that you can actually read, and there’s always a chance that you might be able to score something that isn’t on the online catalog yet. 


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fast Food in Korea: TACO BELL


Considering the success of foreign fast-food chains in Korea, Taco Bell is something of an anomaly. After all, it’s not just mega-giants like McDonald’s or Burger King that have found a solid customer base here; there doesn’t seem to be a department store in Seoul without a Popeye’s Chicken, and both Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins thrive as part of Korea’s café culture (maybe even more so than in the U.S.). On the other hand, the two Taco Bell locations in Seoul—the first opened in Itaewon last July, and now there’s another in Hongdae—are careful attempts by the company to expand once again into the R.O.K. minus the mistakes that cost its disappearance from Korean soil in the 1980s.


Taco Bell only has 240 restaurants in 19 companies outside of the U.S. When this statistic is set comparatively against the rapid globalization of other food brands, it seems that cheap Mexican fare isn’t quite as easily exported as hamburgers or fried chicken. This would make sense as one of the reasons that Taco Bell in Korea has been so slow in re-emerging, as well as the explanation behind these two locations. Itaewon is full of either international consumers, or consumers looking specifically for an international experience of some kind anyway. Hongdae is one of Seoul’s youngest and eclectic neighborhoods, and not only is it a popular night spot for foreigners, another burrito place, Dos Tacos, has already expanded successfully onto the exact same street. 


The Korean Taco Bell experience isn’t particularly extraordinary—if you’re craving a terrific burrito, I would suggest either going to Dos Tacos (originally located in Gangnam but now with restaurants in a few other major neighborhoods) or taking a chance with smaller, hole-in-the-wall Mexican places that are scattered around the city. On the other hand, it is an interesting experience to try out Taco Bell in Korea (and as with all fast food, it’s terribly convenient).

It’s clear that the restaurant keeps to its promise of low prices; the most basic tacos and burritos are only 1,500 won and none of the a la carte items surpass 5,000 won. The combo pricing is generous as well, and apparently Taco Bell is the only fast food chain in Korea that offers free refills on soft drinks. Both the Itaewon and Hongdae locations are all about the interior décor as well: they offer walled booths and gleaming red seats, television screens embedded into the walls that play a constant loop of Taco Bell commercials, and wide sunny windows or atmospheric lighting. It’s a clear difference from most bleak, shabby Taco Bell locations that can be found in America, but the Korean executives clearly know their customer’s values and also their own clear necessity to step up the competition.



Consider its cheap pricing and perhaps for the comfort value of the brand, Taco Bell’s food isn’t too bad. The meals don’t scrimp on ingredients, so thankfully the Fiesta Burritos give a balanced ratio of meat to rice/beans, and the vegetable toppings are fresh and plentiful. I remember the frenzy that the opening of the Itaewon location inspired last summer; the place was constantly packed and sometimes there were even lines reaching to the door. The majority of that welcome I can probably attribute to nostalgia for a familiar food item.


I would definitely urge any Seoul residents to satisfy Mexican food cravings somewhere else, though. With the recent expansion of Dos Tacos, it’s not difficult to find a moderately priced burrito in any of the popular hangout spots. There are also a few Tomatillo Grills located throughout—for example, this Chipotle-ish brand (with a la carte-priced margaritas) can be found in Gangnam’s financial district and also further up north near the Jongak subway station. To be honest, I’m always a bit suspicious when I find independent Mexican restaurants in Korea, but I suspect that hitting up these spots might be extremely rewarding and fun—I’m always hearing rumors about how they’ll give you a customer discount if you can order in Spanish, and so on.

It’s not any secret that South Korea isn’t the place to be for Mexican food, but the country is doing its best to catch up to the demand. If you’re a burrito lover—which of course, we all are—then the key is to refuse the easy way out (Taco Bell) and take on the initiative to hunt down a much better meal. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

6.18.11: SIRIUSIMO @ ROLLING HALL



Along with opener GOGOSTAR and after-act DJ SONYEON, German electronic musician and producer SIRIUSIMO will be in Seoul this Saturday at Rolling Hall, a venue in Hongdae. His set should be both an opportunity to see an increasingly recognized and talented artist perform, as well as to party hard to synth-pop-y dance tracks, as befitting a Saturday night. Tickets are 15,000 won in advance and 20,000 won at the door, and more information and details can be found here at the Facebook event page. 

A GUIDE TO K-BBQ: Pt. 1 (gal-maek-ee-sal)

It’s impossible be interested in Korean food without becoming familiar with ssamgyupsal, or pork or beef galbi. These particular cuts are definitely contemporary cornerstones of national cuisine, but because they’re so well known, sometimes it can be difficult to eat any other kind of gogi—the Hangul word referring to a meat dish. Even as a native Korean, sometimes I find myself ignoring an entire world of self-grilled cuisine in favor of the very basic. However, it’s definitely worth the effort to try out either other selections or variations on the essentials.


For the past few years, gal-maek-ee-sal (갈매기살) has been massively trendy among Koreans. Gal-maek-ee-sal refers to pork ‘skirt-meat,’ basically the portion between the pig’s liver and midriff. (I have a confession: gal-maek-ee is also a homonym, with the more commonly known word translating into ‘seagull’; the first time my friends suggested it, I didn’t want to reveal my ignorance and thus didn’t ask any questions, and thought the entire time that I was eating a kind of bird.) It usually ranges in price from about 6,000-8,000 won for a serving at barbeque restaurant chains, although admittedly the tag can differ quite a bit depending on the specific place.

Last night, I ate dinner at Mapo Gal-maek-ee (마포갈매기) in Hongdae. Another popular barbeque chain known for gal-maek-ee-sal is the restaurant Seorae (서래), which can be found in different locations all over Seoul.




Apparently, gal-maek-ee-sal is reminiscent of eating beef despite the fact that it’s pork: a quick search of user comments on Naver confirms this shared notion, with statements pointing out that gal-maek-ee-sal even physically looks redder and denser than usual pork. In Korea, beef is the far more prized of the two—especially Korean beef, which is definitely considered a luxury item as far as barbeque goes—so it makes sense why gal-maek-ee-sal is so popular.




This particular restaurant also offers a “crust” of egg as an in-house special: basically they take the grill and place it over a pan in the shape of a circle, where the waiter places a mix of spicy vegetables and then pours in the egg mixture. Consequently, while the meat is cooking, so do the eggs. It's a novel and fun way to serve an egg-fry, which is a common side dish at most barbeque places. 





I might be completely underestimating most people’s familiarity with different types of Korean barbeque when I suggest trying gal-maek-ee-sal: all the same, if you haven’t tried it, it’s worth check out, even just to see what all the hype is about. Personally, I also like the fattiness of ssamgyupsal but admittedly gal-maek-ee-sal has a denser, thicker flavor that’s absolutely delicious. Recently it seems that a large portion of the barbeque restaurants opened to the most crowded, social areas of Hongdae (for example, the streets on the hill between the main road and the actual university itself) serve gal-maek-ee-sal as one of the most popular choices on their menu, if not their main dish. This observation in itself seems like a good indicator that, when it comes to trying Korean dishes, it wouldn't be amiss to go out for some gal-maek-ee-sal.