Just when I thought we were running out of options in Bongcheon-dong (near Seoul National University, Green Line 2), my friend and I stumbled upon another solid place specializing in donkkaseu 돈까스 (breaded pork cutlets), one of my favorite dishes—because I’ve never had a donkkaseu that I didn’t like (click here and here for two of my favorites). Bongi Donkkaseu is no exception. They boast every kind of donkkaseu imaginable—regular, cheese, fish, chicken, and an interesting “curse-inducing” spicy version—but we opted for the regular and chicken set. Each set came with a refreshing bowl of momil guksu (soba noodles), which could have been a meal in itself with its sheer size. Both hovered around the 7,000 won range. Overall, they were nice handmade cutlets with crispy breading and meaty. They were accompanied with the ubiquitous shredded cabbage, rice, soup, and not-so-standard cubed radish kimchi (kkakdugi), the latter being a nice surprise because kkakdugi go well with most dishes. A minor hiccup that was encountered was the sauce on both of our dishes. They used the standard sweet and spicy sticky sauce used at most fried chicken joints (i.e. yangnyeom chicken). The owner told us it was the sauce of choice among her regulars. But it didn’t work for us. The more familiar sweet and tangy katsu sauce was presented and all was well again.
Here are some things that really stood out at this unique donkkaseu restaurant, which I will be visiting again soon to try their aforementioned “curse-inducing” spicy pork cutlet:
* Service is top-notch, run by the most sincere ajumma running front of house and her husband doing kitchen duties. They genuinely seemed to care for all the customers that walked in, many being regulars like university students and locals.
* They give back to the community through an organization called Mirinae Project, literally meaning “pay ahead of time.” Customers can donate any amount of money (nothing is too small), which will then go into a food fund for those who cannot afford meals. See pic below.
* You can leave your mark there, literally. Post-it notes adorn the walls of the restaurant (as well as vintage vinyl LPs), giving the place a special vibe and charm. Reminds me of Gwaksi Guksi in Jeju.
* Everything costs over 5억 (roughly $500,000 dollars) = 5,000 won ($5 bucks). When new restaurants or businesses open in Korea, many people will kindly offer their support by saying “사업 번창하세요,” meaning more or less “prosper and make a lot of money.” The owners wanted to convey this positive vibe by creating a menu that’s fun to read with inexpensive prices to match.
Food: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★★ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Bongi Donkkaseu & Naengmomil (봉이 돈까스&냉모밀)
913-35 Bongcheon-dong, Gwanak-gu (서울특별시 관악구 봉천동 913-35)
Hours: 11am ~ 9pm, closed 2nd n 4th Fridays of the month
Click here for an interactive map: http://me2.do/GAGM9wg4
Directions: Come out Bongcheon Station (Green Line #2), Exit 1 and walk straight for roughly 200 meters. Take a right at the second block and it will be on your left.