Songjuk 송죽 (Chungmuro, Seoul)

There are some foods that Koreans must eat on certain occasions. Miyeokguk on birthdays, tteokguk on New Year’s, and samgyetang during boknal are just a few examples. However, on the occasion when you’re not feeling too hot, you’ll most likely be presented with juk (porridge), a highly nutritious meal consisting of boiled down rice, glutinous rice, maybe some grains, diced veggies, and a protein source such as chicken or seafood. It’s pretty easy to make at home, but if you’re sick, it’s good to have a reliable restaurant to make it for you.

Where do you get quality juk in Seoul? Well, you can get plain, mediocre juk at the ubiquitous chain called Bonjuk, or you can treat yourself to the real thing at Song Juk, a 50-year-old Euljiro institution specializing in jeonbok (abalone) and bomal (sea snail) juk. Both versions include ground abalone innards, giving the porridge its unique olive coloring and a rich, creamy texture. I had this in Jeju (where it originated) using fresh abalone and it was terrific. Since it has a very rich, creamy consistency, the best restaurants will serve the juk with side dishes that enhance the juk’s flavor, such as ojingeo jeot (fermented squid) and mumallaengi (seasoned dried radish strips). A proper juk, just like many beef bone soups, is only as good as the banchan that’s served with it, in my humble opinion.

According to the owner, most customers seek out this dish to recover from a hangover or restore one’s general health. Personally, hangover or no hangover, I could eat this comforting dish every day (yes, it’s that good!). Pictured is the bomal juk for 16,000 won, but their menu is extensive enough to please the pickiest of eaters.

Food: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars

Service: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars

Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Value: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Songjuk 송죽

Pil-dong 1ga 3-1, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울 중구 필동1가 3-1)

Phone: 02-2265-5129

Hours: Open weekdays 7:00 am ~ 8:00 pm, weekends 7:00 am ~ 2:00 pm

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