Friday, October 28, 2011

Seoul: Unochubo (유노츄보)

Unochubo (유노츄보) is a Japanese restaurant located in upscale Sinsa-dong. Its two locations are tucked away in the side streets of Garosugil ("tree-lined street"), an area known for exquisite fusion cuisine.

The first location, Unochubo Sushi.

Unochubo Sushi is located on the second floor.

The second location, Unochubo.

Unochubo Sushi's ambiance is perfect for an intimate date or girls night out.

Unochubo is more casual, consisting of young adults embracing the start of the weekend.

Maroon tables and dainty ceramic table wear are uniform in both locations.

Both restaurants feature an extensive menu of Japanese fusion dishes. Selections include colorful salads, savory barbecues and steaks, fresh seafood, rice bowls, noodles (udon, soba, ramen...), and more. Unochubo serves basic sushi while Unochubo Sushi features more exotic, high-end platters.

Unochubo Sushi - Appetizer of tofu yogurt (?)

Unochubo Sushi - Complimentary sushi bites

Unochubo - Appetizer of marinated cherry tomatoes. This was absolutely delicious!

Unochubo - Our complimentary kimchi plate included cube daikon, cucumber, and traditional Napa cabbage.

Agedou with jogatsal. This agedashi tofu entree is my favorite at both locations. It's a dish of thick deep fried tofu and soy-marinated clams paired with various raw veggies. The pairing of flavors and textures is excellent!

I've had the basic sushi platters from both locations, and they were excellent. Everything from the fatty tuna to the sweet shrimp was very fresh and high quality.

Cold soba noodles. The noodles were standard, and the broth (sauce) was icy and tart.

A dish of large clams paired with deep fried pumpkin slivers, greens, bell peppers, onions, and bacon crisps. This provided an interesting medley of textures, but clashed taste-wise. The brown sauce was horrendously sweet! Pretty to look at, though.

Assorted fish roe over rice. The ikura (salmon roe) was fresh but quite briny. The uni (sea urchin) sashimi was my favorite part. It was luxuriously creamy and sweet.

This deluxe bowl of ramen included fresh fish, shrimp, crab, mussels, baby octopus, squid, soft cabbage, and bean sprouts. The noodles were perfectly textured and the seafood broth was divine.

The chirashi bowl was a disappointment. It did not remotely resemble the great quality of the nigiri sushi. The fish was fresh, but the slices were thin and boring. The rice was regular white rice sprinkled with green onion and tobiko (flying fish roe). I don't understand why they would do that, as it greatly lowers the quality and taste of the dish.

Grilled pork neck served on a cement block. This was quite good. The meat was very tender and juicy with a great savory flavor. This was a table favorite!

Overall, Unochubo is a great restaurant with plenty of tantalizing dishes. On our first visit, we asked the waiter to bring out their best dishes and everything was divine. On our second and third visits, we ordered on our own, and every dish but one was a hit. My recommendation is to go with their recommendations, and a platter of great sushi!

524-14 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Hours: 11:30am to 3:00pm, 6:00 to 10:00pm


Monday, October 10, 2011

Seoul: Budae Jjigae at Biya (비야)

Budae jjigae (부대찌개), "army base stew", is a dish that originated in Seoul during the Korean American war. During and after the war, meat was scarce and people had little to eat. People made this dish by combining leftover hot dogs and Spam from U.S. army bases with whatever else they could find, and boiling it in traditional Korean spicy stew. The dish is still popular in South Korea. Nowadays, it incorporates ingredients such as instant ramen noodles, sliced American cheese, ground pork, sausages, rice cake, tofu, macaroni, and just about everything in between.

Biya (비야) is a popular restaurant known for its hearty, spicy budae jjigae.

Each person receives a small bowl of rice.

Seemingly random tator tots with ketchup and honey mustard.

Budae jjigae is quick and easy to make. Just toss and boil!

Our flavorful, spicy stew contained hot dogs, Spam, cheese, ramen noodles, glass noodles, rice cake, kimchi, onions, green onions, and other ingredients. Simple but delicious!

A free bottle of soda, coke, or orange soda to soothe the palate.

Biya is the place for budage jjigae. Fast, affordable, and delicious!

Biya Restaurant
Anam Station (Line 6), Exit #2

From Exit #2, walk back and around the corner. Walk straight until you see a black restaurant with white lettering. There are two Biya locations on the same block, one on each corner.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Seoul: With Chicken (위드치킨)

Seoul is known for having an overabundant amount of certain foods, such as kimchi and waffles (there's a waffle photo on the official tourism site!). One of these foods is chicken. Whether its grilled on a hot plate or deep fried drizzled in hot sauce, one can find one chicken restaurant after another in every major area of the city. Chicken-and-beer restaurants are the popular go-to hangout spots for college students. Anam Street, located next to Korea University, naturally has its own collection of chicken-and-beer places. As a college student studying abroad at the university, I've gone up and down the street numerous times for chicken and I've always found With Chicken (위드치킨) to be my favorite. Their chicken is tastier and cheaper than other places, including popular chain restaurants.

With Chicken is easily recognized by its tempting display window and inflatable chicken sign.

The takeout menu. Chicken boxes run at ₩9,000 to ₩11,500 for ten pieces.

Spring onion (파닭 paldag) chicken, spicy crispy chicken topped with spring onions and a spicy soy-based sauce.

Crispy (크리스피 keuriseupi) chicken!

The interior is minimalistic.

The restaurant menu. The drink listing is in the back.

Complimentary rice/corn chips. These are crunchy and mostly flavorless.

Kkakdugi kimchi
, pickled white radish kimchi. These are crunchy and slightly sour, serving as refreshing palate cleansers.

Soda and coke. When ordering, English speakers should say "cider" and "cola" to the non-English-speaking waitstaff.

Beer. Chicken-and-beer restaurants can get quite loud during weekend evenings when college students hang out to play drinking games.

Crispy chicken and garlic chicken combo. The chicken combos come with a mound of regular and crinkled fries.

The crispy chicken is indeed crispy, not thickly breaded like other places. The meat itself is tender and juicy.

Seasoned (양념 yangnyeom) chicken. The sauce is made with garlic, tomato, gochujang (hot chili pepper paste), and sugar. The flavor is sweet, sour, and spicy.

Garlic (마늘 maneul) chicken. This chicken is always the table favorite, as well as my personal favorite. The sweet, savory garlic sauce is delicious!

The fries come as a basket of regular and crinkled.

Refreshing iced peaches.

Jal meokkesseumnida!

With Chicken
Anam Station (Line 6), Exit #2
Anam-dong, Seongbok-gu, Seoul, South Korea
From Exit #2, walk back and around the corner. Pass Coffee Bean and Biya. With Chicken will be just before the second Biya restaurant you see on the same block (there is one on each corner).