I went out for lunch today with friends. It was at a restaurant near Balsan subway station in Seoul, S. Korea where I hadn’t been before. It had a wonderful atmosphere, wasn’t expensive, and we all decided the cook was better than most Korean cooks. We ate Korean food, but the cook seemed to have a knack at making it taste better than usual.Besides the food being good, the atmosphere was very nice. There was a fish pond next to my table, and a fish who kept checking on me which made it fun.
As you enter the front door, the atmosphere begins right at the beginning. It has a huge machine that simulates a small waterfall at the front door. With the name of the restaurant on it: 당신을 위하여 (dangshin ool ooeehayo), “For You.” If you live in Seoul and are looking for this restaurant, it is in the building next to Holly’s Coffee, and up on about the 3rd floor. It isn’t a big or expensive restaurant, but it is a nice one. A lot of fish is being sold here, and you can smell the fish the moment you enter the restaurant. One of the nice things about it is that in Korea, parking is hard, but there is a parking lot behind the building, and you just save your receipt from eating, and they let you out of the parking lot without paying.
When we sat down, there was a fish pond next to our table with running water there too and a water wheel. I got a couple of videos of it, but for some reason, I don’t have the one of the water wheel turning, but the picture of the water wheel.
Besides the atmosphere and the unusual company, the food was good. We all ordered tonkatsu, but we got more than we asked for because, after all, this is a Korean restaurant. In Korea, they are great about bringing on the extras at the restaurants.
While we were waiting for our order, they came with nice hot green tea and crab soup. It was very good.
The brought the side dishes next, and as you know, in Korea, the side dishes are free. Here is chopchay, a noodle dish they usually serve on holidays, and a salad with sesame seed oil dressing. It was good.
The chopchay and the salad were not the only side dishes. They also brought us kimchee, on the right, and white kimchee and another form of chopchay on the left. Kimchee is usually chalked full of chili spice, garlic, and whatever else they can find that is spicy, but white kimchee is kimchee without all the spices. Usually, I see white kimchee made with pears, but this white kimchee was made with cabbage. It was basically sour kraut. We wondered if they included the white kimchee for foreigners because a lot of foreigners can’t quite take so much of the chili spice.
Next, they brought us twenjang jigae. Most Koreans really loved this soup! However, I have not had the best relationship with it. The first year I was in Korea, they used to make it in the school cafeteria where I was teaching, and I was down the hall from the cafeteria. It stunk the school building up so badly that it made me want to vomit, and I had to leave the building on the days they made it and eat my lunch somewhere else. However, this twenjang jigae at this restaurant didn’t stink! When I tasted it, it even tasted good! I was in shock! This is one of the reasons I have to say that the cook in this restaurant is doing a fantastic job!
Lastly, they finally brought our order. The tonkatsu was slightly thinner and smaller than I have seen elsewhere, but it was okay because usually, the tonkatsu is more than I can eat anyway. They put sesame seeds and little pieces of seaweed on the rice. They also served those yellow Japanese pickles, and my daughter and I both really like those. There was a very sweet salad dressing on the salad. My daughter kept insisting that it tasted like sweetened condensed milk. Whatever it was, it was good. The whole meal was good.
If you are ever in Seoul and close to Balsan Station, I recommend that you try this restaurant. We ate the standard meal that most foreigners eat, tonkatsu which is pork cutlet. However, there were several other things on the menu, most different kinds of fish. We really enjoyed the atmosphere, and we all laughed and talked about the fish who kept checking me out. My daughter says that fish only have a memory that lasts for 2 minutes, and every two minutes, it seems the fish forgot what I was and had to check me out again. When I put my finger up over the water where the fish was, the fish opened it’s mouth, and my daughter got excited and made me pull my finger back saying she was afraid it would bite me, but I don’t think gold fish have teeth, do they? LOL