Guldari Sikdang 굴다리 식당 (Mapo-gu, Seoul)

Although I have little time nor the energy to seek out restaurants like I did in the past, I was pleasantly surprised to find an iconic place close to my home. And thanks to some dear friends who spared me from doing the regular pre-meal search on Naver, I found myself yet another favorite restaurant serving a classic and nostalgic dish from my childhood: kimchi jjigae.

The place is called Guldari Sikdang, a 40 year old establishment built on only two simple yet hearty dishes that define comfort food for many Koreans: Kimchi Jjigae (7,000 won) and Jeyuk Bokkeum (10,000 won). To keep it short and simple, this was one of the best meals that I’ve had in Korea. The combination of both dishes along with the gaeran mari (rolled egg omelette), plain white rice, and dried laver were a perfect orchestra of flavors and texture. The broth was surprisingly mild compared to other places (Gwanghwamun Jip) but it was full of depth and flavor–most likely from the long overnight boil with mugeunji kimchi (overly ripe kimchi). The big pieces of kimchi, which were uniquely transparent, made for excellent “wraps” with the huge golf ball size chunks of tender pork. As for the jeyuk bokkeum, again huge pieces of pork smothered in a very thick gochujang-based sauce that only looked spicy in appearance but more sweet and savory. And excess fat on some the pork pieces was a little excessive but not offensive enough not to eat (does that make sense?).

When it was all said and done, the food was so good that we tried to order another serving of the soup to finish out our remaining bowl of rice. The emo “auntie” gave us a strange look, then repeated if we really wanted another order or just a refill. We got our FREE refill and left the place feeling like we won the lottery.

“One should eat to live, not live to eat.” ~ Moliere

Food: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars

Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Ambiance: ★★★½ out of 5 stars

Value: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars

Guldari Sikdang 

181-45 Dohwa-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

Phone: 02-712-0066

Hours: Open every day from 8am ~ 10pm

Click here for an interactive map:

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