Monthly Archives: November 2012

[Seoul, Korea] Tobang 土房

Address:  Seoul-si Jongno-gu Gwanhun-dong 73-1

Directions:  Line 3, Anguk station, exit 6.  Go straight about 100 meters, then left turn into the Insadong main street (Insadong-gil).  Walk around 120 meters, and the restaurant will be on your left side.  About a 7 minute walk from exit 6.

You can read more about the restaurant at the Korea Tourism site.


I was shopping around Insadong and needed to find a place to eat.  So I flipped open one of my travel books and found this place.  It’s very easy to find, amongst all of the souvenir shops on the main Insadong street.  The restaurant itself is pretty small, but service was really fast.  Tobang serves great traditional Korean food, including many different stews (kimchi, dried pollack, doenjang, etc).   Take off your shoes before being seated on the floor cushions!


The simple (and yes, multi-lingual) menu.  Prices are really reasonable.  I think the kimchi jiggae is the most popular dish here – saw a lot of people eating that.


The side dishes were all really good – there’s the usual kimchi, seaweed salad, marinated mushrooms.  There was even marinated raw crab!  The crab meat was sweet and succulent, while balanced by the hot spices.  Yummy!  You can ask for free refills on the side dishes and rice (except for the marinated raw crab).


My doenjang jiggae (aka Korean miso stew) came boiling hot.  It was a tad spicy (there was a lot of jalapenos in the soup), but really hit the spot on a cold day.  The stew had tofu and vegetables.  Only W5,500  (US $5.50)

[Seoul, Korea] Gyeongbokgung BBQ 景福宮韓式烤肉

Mareunnae-ro 88-5, Seoul, Korea

서울시 중구 저동2가 88-5

Open hours:10am-4pm,5pm-10pm

Directions:  Line 4 to Myeongdong station, Exit 6. Turn left and keep walking until you see Myeongdong Theater at your left corner, then turn right at that street.  Keep walking, past Myeongdong Cathedral and a big street.  The restaurant will be on your right.  About a 15 minute walk from exit 6.



Don’t be fooled by the name of the restaurant – it’s actually located in Myeongdong which is not close by Gyeongbokgung Palace.  This restaurant is quite popular with tourists, I read so many reviews before I went there, but wasn’t expecting much since I’ve had my share of Korean BBQ in LA.  This place is well known for its Korean beef (hanu) but also has other meats like pork, chicken etc.  The quality of the meat is actually really good, I highly recommend it if you’re in Myeongdong.


Outside of the restaurant


The menu is in multiple languages and will indicate the price per portion.  I ordered the Korean rib-eye, which was W 38K for a 1 person portion (approx US $38).  Hanu is pretty expensive so expect to shell out $$ wherever you go.


The 1 person portion comes in 2 steaks.  The marbling is so nice on the meat!  It was melt in the mouth goodness!!!  The server grilled it to just medium on the meat, still a little pink in the middle, perfect!


Real coal is used for the grill.  The server will grill and cut up the meats for you, no work needed on your part except to eat!


So many side dishes come with the bbq… they were all yum!


More side dishes, including the steamed egg and kimchi jiggae (stew).  The kimchi jiggae was really good!


Kimchi pancake also came as a side dish.  It was crispy, not too spicy and had tons of kimchi flavor.  Mmmm…


What also sets this restaurant apart is the amount and variety of veggies they provide, to wrap up your grilled meats with – there was the regular lettuce, shiso leaf, wasabi leaf, and other leafy greens.  All of them went really well with the grilled meat.


The meal ends with a cup of refreshing ice plum tea!


Coupon: there is a coupon available on this Japanese website  I used it and it works!  10% off on beef and 5% off on pork.

[Seoul, Korea] Tosokchon Samgyetang 土俗村蔘雞湯

Chebu-dong 85-1 Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea


Directions:  Line 3 to Gyeongbokgung station, Exit 2.  Walk straight for 100m from Exit 2, turn left at the GS25 convenience store and it’s on your left.  Alternatively, if you’re coming from Gyeongbokgung Palace, once you exit Gwanghwamun, turn right, walk straight (past Exit 2 of Gyeongbokgung station), turn left at the GS25 and the restaurant will be on your left.


Samgyetang is a whole chicken soup, stuffed with ginseng and sticky rice.  This was the best one I’ve ever had.  The restaurant seemed small from the outside, but inside, it’s like a village!  It was converted from a traditional Korean house (a hanok) and so busy with customers.  But, service was really fast.  And it gets crowded, so be prepared for a wait.  Seating can also be a bit crowded, so you might be rubbing elbows with your neighbors.



Outside of the restaurant


Once you’ve indicated the number in your party, you’ll be led to a dining area (there are several).  Take off your shoes before entering the dining area!  Seating is on the floor (with cushions).


The side dishes are self-serve, at every table, so grab as much as you’d like.  The pickled radish was soo good!  It wasn’t spicy…just a bit of a kick, with some sweetness and lots of crunchiness!  So addicting…


And of course there’s kimchi. Nom nom nom…  After you order, the waitress will hand you a badge with a number.  Once you’re done eating, take the badge to the counter to pay.


The menu is simple, just 4 different types of the samgyetang – which either has different kind of ginseng or chicken.  Based on the reviews I’ve read from before, everyone recommended the original samgyetang, which is the second choice on the menu, so that’s the one I went with.  W15,000 is approximately US $15


The samgyetang arrives bubbling hot!  The broth is milky and flavorful.  There’s salt and pepper at the table, if you’d like to season the broth some more.  The chicken itself is so tender, yet still juicy, and just falls off the bone.  The sticky rice stuffing, with dates and chestnut, was perfect with the side dishes.  Awesome meal for a cold day!


Akasaka Restaurant

14926 Clark Ave
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

(626) 336-0871


Akasaka is located in the middle of a residential area in Hacienda Heights, seemingly out of place for a Japanese restaurant.  But, don’t let that fool you.  This place has been around for over 40 years.  It’s best known for its HUGE chirashi bowl (one order serves 2-3 people), which has all sorts of seafood and fish.  All of the menu item portions are pretty generous too.  Just a warning, their sushi rolls are 3 times the size of regular sushi rolls.

Food is always consistent.  Service is pretty great and fast.  Make a reservation, if you can, otherwise sometimes the wait could be horrendous.  Parking wise, Akasaka does have a small adjacent parking lot.  Once that’s full, there’s usually lots of street parking available.

Regardless of what you order, everyone at the table is served with a small salad and miso soup.



The famous chirashi bowl – it has spicy tuna, salmon, eel, scallop, uni, albacore tuna, monkfish liver, yellow tail, salmon roe, tobikko, squid, octopus, sweet shrimp, tuna tataki.  The sushi rice beneath the mountain of seafood is really yummy too!  $38.50 per order


Rainbow roll with tons of fish.  $28.50 for 8 pieces and $18 for 4 pieces.  This is the 4 pieces order, like I’ve said, the portions are huge!  The fish is so fresh and melts in your mouth….


Crunchy roll – with avocado and tempura shrimp.  It’s coated with tempura crumbs.  Yum!  $18 for 8 pieces, $14.50 for 6 pieces


Spider roll – fried soft-shell crab sushi coated with masago.  So good!  $18 for 8 pieces and $12 for 4 pieces.


Tempura udon – big bowl of udon accompanied by assorted tempura (shrimp, eggplant, italian squash, sweet potato).  My friends said this was pretty good!  $11


We were there for a birthday.  Just when we thought we were done with dinner, the waitress brought out a big cake, on the house!  Not sure if they make it in house, but the cake was really moist and tasty.  What a great surprise!


We also ended up with some sushi-shaped lollipops, compliments of the house.  These are so cute!