Sunday, February 13, 2011

Daechi Jyeongyuk Sikdang

I rarely use foreign language as my blog title, and I think this is kind of cool :-)
Daechi is actually the name of that area,
Jyeongyuk means butcher shop
Sikdang is referring to dining area, and the pronunciation is very similar with 食堂

It's a cold winter night. We were supposed to have dinner with our agents but he called last minute to tell us that he couldn't make it. We were kind of disappointed. Imagine this, you were expecting for a car (with heater!!) to bring you to a fancy restaurant at a foreign city in a romantic winter night. However, you ended up have to walk in the freezing cold weather (-15 degree C with strong wind and no sunlight!!!) to find a restaurant at a city that is full with unknowns...... 

Luckily, there's a thing call i-phone, and I have downloaded a free apps call "i Tour Seoul 2" even before I came to this city. Our search criteria is very simple, it must be as near to the hotel as possible, with a minimum food quality rating of 4 stars. And this is how I found Daechi Jyeongyuk Sikdang, which is 200m away from Ibis Ambassador Hotel. (Besides, according to "i Tour Seoul 2", "this shop operates a butcher shop and they serve many cuts of beef that you can barbecue over charcoal" - this sentence alone makes Daechi Jyeongyuk Sikdang irresistible to me. Who would know their beef better than a butcher?)

Still, when you are cold and hungry, 200m seems like 200km away. We were so tempted to jump into every shops for the heater when we were struggling to walk through the icy wind. We were almost fainted, at least I was, when we're already at the supposedly exact location and there were no restaurants in sight!!! None of the shops on that street looks anything like a restaurant to me. Luckily, a friendly looking woman sensed our confusion, rushed out from the shop and pointed at the basement. I'm so glad that sign language is an universal language. I can't imagine having to walk back to the hotel and walk for another 300m to our 2nd choice restaurant when my fingers already numb and that feeling started to spread!! Phew! what a relieve! (Look at the photo below! Who would have thought that this IS actually a restaurant??)

I think this shop is quite popular among the local as the basement is full with Korean families enjoying their dinner. After we took off our shoes (and spent a few minutes standing around the heater to ensure I can feel my toes again), the waitress led us to a small table at the corner. After we took off our jackets and make ourselves comfortable on the tatami, the waitress started to serve all sorts of side dishes, just like any typical Korean BBQ restaurant. Everything is so familiar except for one problem: the menu is printed 100% in Korean Language and 0% picture!!! No waiter/waitress dare to come near us after the routine side dishes serving. After close observation for more than 10 minutes, someone finally found out that we speak something similar to Mandarin and sent a Chinese waitress to our table! Phew! The waitress is great! She recommended 3 dishes to us and later I found out from their website that those dishes are their signature!

200g of Yukhoe for KW20,000 - It's good but how I wish they could scale down their minimum serving so that we can try something else)

Yukhoe rice ball (sorry, forgot the Korean name of this dish liao~)
It's a "service", means free lah~
Strangely, it seems that only Korean and Japanese love to serve "service"

This can never fail to make me drool :)
Top set - KW25,000
Bottom - KW35,000

The Chinese lady's shift ended at the middle of our meal, another shy Korean young man took over. I am very sure he is the son of the tauke. He demonstrated high passion in his job! To ensure we don't ruin his nicely-cut-high-quality-beef, instead of letting us do the barbecue job, he did the barbecue and constantly check our pace. He barbecued the beef slowly, 3 pieces at a time so that none of them overcooked, and he will point at different side dishes after every round to show us how to enjoy the beef. I even saw him using i-phone to communicate with the Japanese couple in the next table to teach them how to eat. :) This is the reason why you should go to a butcher-shop-cum-restaurant at least once to learn to appreciate the beef.

By the way, they served very good seaweed soup too! I had 2 big bowls of them! (Nothing beats a good bowl of hot soup in winter!!)

If you'd love to try some authentic Korean barbecue in Seoul, this shop is highly recommended.

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