It feels like yesterday (two years to be exact) that I was helping Graham collect information for his soon-to-be-released book on Korean cuisine, Eating Korea, wandering like hungry nomads on Jeju Island and Seoul. Serving as a translator and local food guide, there were some memorable moments during our time together, the biggest being an interview and dance session with local haenyeo (female free divers) followed by a feast of freshly caught sea creatures. Although much time has passed and I currently find myself in the boonies of Gangwondo, I still remember Graham’s meticulous note-taking prowess, reminding me of a detective gathering clues to solve a grand mystery. After getting an early read of his galley (pre-published edition), I can say he’s solved most, if not all, the mystery surrounding Korean cuisine. For anyone who’s a fan of Korean food, you will thoroughly enjoy this book that covers every aspect of hansik—past, present, future. And if that’s not good enough, just use it as a primer for some of the most beloved Korean restaurants, including this featured post: Hanok Jip 한옥집.
I visited all nine provinces and about twenty cities, towns, villages and hamlets while researching and writing Eating Korea: Reports on a Culinary Renaissance. For every place I visited I had a plan; someone to meet, something to eat and somewhere to eat it. But, everywhere I went to, my plans changed as fresh advice steered me in an unexpected direction. These were always welcome deviations, none more so than in the case of Hanok Jib Kimchi Jjim.
I happened to mention to my landlady that I was writing a book about Korean food and she insisted we go there to eat kimchi for lunch. “You’ll understand why when we get there,” she told me. I hadn’t eaten kimchi like that in twenty years, and ‘aged kimchi restaurants’ like this simply didn’t exist twenty years ago. I was so enamored with the place, I devoted an entire chapter to the time I spent there.
“The owner has opened a number of places,” Jin-Young told me as we walked up a slight incline to the front door of Hanok Jib Kimchi Jjim (한옥집-김치찜). “But this is the original.”
Food: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★½ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Hanok Jip (한옥집)
178 Naengcheong-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul (서울 서대문구 냉청동 178)
Hours: Open every day 10am-10pm except national holidays
Click here for an interactive map: http://naver.me/x0KBZSP7