Seoul Restaurant Story

I was in Seoul for a few days. I wanted to go to a really good Korean restaurant. I did a lot of research. Finally I returned to where I started — an article about “the ten best restaurants in Seoul” — and carefully picked one of them: Yong Su San.

I phoned the restaurant, got directions. It was almost dinnertime. To my surprise, it was only a mile away so I decided to walk. I didn’t have a map but I could aim for the nearest subway station. I walked toward that subway station for a while, then asked someone for directions. She said another branch of that restaurant was closer to where I was. It was as if after extensive research I had decided that the best meal in New York was at McDonald’s.

The restaurant was extremely good. For only $60 I had a fascinating and delicious meal. At the end they give you a choice of “main food”. I chose bibimbap. Bibimbap is all cheap ingredients (rice, vegetables, sometimes egg, hot sauce, sometimes a small amount of meat or fish) and strikes me as the best possible way of combining those ingredients. This is an eternal question — given a small amount of money, what’s the best you can do? It’s surprising that the best answer comes from a small country (Korea).

5 Replies to “Seoul Restaurant Story”

  1. Restaurants be damned. What we had for dinner for two yesterday: it really didn’t cost a lot.

    First course: a timbale of basmati rice, a couple of ounces of smoked salmon discovered when stocktaking the freezer, red onion, and dill, accompanied by a green salad.

    Second course: aubergine (i.e. “egg plant”) stuffed with minced lamb, red pepper (“capsicum”?) and onion, with spices (smoked paprika, cumin, ….).

    Third course: no room.

    We dined like kings, don’t you think?

    Seth: I agree. I go to restaurants for social reasons, rarely for the food.

  2. Here at home Shangri-la rules and we have been saving a lot of money in food.

    With something like $20 we buy food for a week, for 2 people. That includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. We buy at a local community market full with local producer. We avoid supermarkets. (Community markets are common in Mexico and they are super cheap)

    Here are some examples of what we eat:

    Breakfast: half a cup of chopped fruit, coffee or tea. Sometimes half an egg and a small piece of bread.

    Lunch: About a couple table spoons of pasta, rice, salad, meat… you name it. We can’t eat much because AS is very very strong.

    Dinner: A couple cookies and some milk. Sometimes half a quesadilla (one corn tortilla folded, with cheese inside). Sometimes I would have only a cup of coffee with cream and sugar.

    Oh and all the three meals include a lot of plain water.

    I don’t think it can get cheaper than that.

    Since my girlfriend and me eat so little, we avoid restaurants. That may change when we enter maintenance phase, I guess.

  3. Addendum!

    We did eat in Church’s Fried Chicken the other day and ordered the kids meal for each. It was too much! That’s when we decided to pass on restaurants for the time being.

  4. My recent memory of Seoul is that you could get a very good and quite large Korean meal for around $5-6. (Which was the same price as a Starbucks sandwich, or an ice cream cone, or coffee and a donut.) $60 seems sky-high for Korean food in Korea.

    Seth: It was a fancy restaurant.

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