One of the most asked questions is how I find all these great restaurants, whether it be in a hidden alleyway of Seoul or in the boondocks where I often get lost during my biking trips. Well, to be honest, I do a pretty extensive (and exhaustive) search on Naver, Korea’s largest web portal. I simply type in the vicinity where I want to eat followed by the word matjip, loosely translated as “tasty house,” and sift through endless pages of reviews until I find one that catches my attention. I know that some of those reviews are paid endorsements–easily identifiable with visible watermarks, high-resolution photos, and oftentimes missing menu pricing–but there are quite a few reviews/reviewers that are passionate about food and have no interest in commercial endeavors. With that said, this sigol matjip, “tasty countryside restaurant,” was found on Naver during a west coast road trip to Anmyeondo. Although it was taken two years, it’s impossible to forget the meticulously prepared food, ambiance, and friendly service at Gomsum Naru.
Situated in Taean County on the west coast of Korea, it’s no surprise that this homey restaurant specializes in two dishes utilizing an important ingredient in these parts: crab, or specifically, horse crab. The fresh crabs are lovingly bathed in an aromatic soy brine to make a delicacy known as ganjang gejang, a popular dish that also comes seasoned in a sweet, spicy sauce called yangnyeom gejang. At 18,000 won a piece, it’s a steal compared to the inflated prices in Seoul. The succulent crab meat, the roe from female crabs, and the briny, flavorful sauce is a killer combination made even better with a warm bowl of rice (coining the term bap doduk “rice thief”). I’m not the biggest fan of raw foods, but high-quality ganjang gejang is something I look forward to because it has a very addicting quality to it (ie. umami flavor bombs).
The ganjang gejang alone is worth a visit to Gomsum Naru, but in true sigol (countryside) fashion, a meal wouldn’t be complete without a generous serving of banchan, soup, and even a meat dish. The banchan were terrific– a nice balance of fresh, lightly seasoned, and fermented dishes that complimented the raw crabs. There were also a few san-namul banchan, which is more common in these parts due to its widespread availability. The doenjang jjigae using more crabs deserves some recognition as well. Overall, this was such a fantastic meal that left us leaving content and full. If you ever plan a trip to the west coast, put this on your map and make sure to reserve in advance as they only open for lunch.
Food: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Gomsum Naru 곰섬나루
Sinohn-ri 505, Nam-myeon, Taean-gun, Chungnam Province (충남 태안군 남면 신온리 505)
Hours: Open every day 11:00 am ~ 3:00 pm
Click here for an interactive map: http://naver.me/F6qWXQD6