It’s been over a year since I posted anything on the blog (my bad!), but for those who’ve been following me on Instagram and Facebook you probably know I’ve been posting restaurant reviews quite regularly. At the same time, I’ve been researching and collecting information to write a book on Korean cuisine (yep, no joke!). I’m not 100% certain of the direction I want to take with the book, but it will most likely focus on my fascination with old-school restaurants, particularly the ones vulnerable to gentrification and have an expiration date stamped on them. My hope is to include their time-tested recipes, anecdotes from the owners, and tons of photos. I’m pushing myself harder these days after finding out that some of my favorite restaurants have closed down within the past year. Which leads me to this next restaurant in Ikseon-dong that, I feel, might suffer the same fate. Here’s the post in its entirety with a few more details.
Jeongsik is a term to describe a set meal usually consisting of rice, soup, protein, and a hefty amount of banchan. Out of all the jeongsiks I’ve had during my time In Korea, none have impressed me more than the old-school version served here at Waryong Jip—a modest yet classic restaurant run by two elderly sisters in Jongro.
For over 40 years, the hanok-renovated restaurant run by the two lovely emos (aunties) have wowed—and spoiled—their loyal customers with a home-style jeongsik (7,000 won) that includes overlooked-but-absolutely-delicious dishes such as slightly funky cheonggukjang (soybean paste stew), pa-kimchi (scallion kimchi), soong-nyung (boiled scorched rice), and gyulmyungja-cha (cassia seed tea). The latter two items are hard to come by and I could hardly believe I was given a large bowl of the nourishing scorched rice.
According to the emo, soong-nyung is eaten at the end of the meal and aids in digestion, while gyulmyungja-cha (which I mistook for the more common barley tea) is known to improve eyesight. And if that wasn’t good enough, the fermented soybeans for their signature cheonggukjang are brought up from the countryside weekly, which gives you an idea of how much the restaurant tries to preserve tradition and history.
The restaurant is located on the border of a now-trendy area called Ikseon-dong, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Seoul. It has quickly filled with young artists and entrepreneurs who have opened up cute cafes, eateries, and hipster shops. Unfortunately, this has driven out some of the older establishments who are either bought out or can’t keep up with the soaring rent. Before the inevitable happens, make sure to visit this classic restaurant that serves arguably the best jeongsik in Seoul.
Food: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★★ out of 5 stars
Waryong Jip (와룡집)
Waryong-dong 171-1, Jongro-gu, Seoul (서울 종로구 와룡동 171-1)
Hours: Open every day 10 am ~ 9 pm
Click here for an interactive map: http://naver.me/FS9UA713