If you’ve been following me on Facebook and Instagram, you probably know that I worked at a modern Korean restaurant specializing in soondae (blood sausage). During that stint, not only did I pick up valuable cooking tips and techniques from the talented head chef, I learned firsthand that you can be successful specializing in Korean dishes that are often overlooked and underappreciated. And this is the case with soondae — also unflatteringly romanized as sundae — the ubiquitous street food usually found along with fiery tteokbokki and spongy odeng.
With dishes ranging from soondae gukbap (blood sausage soup with rice) to myungtae sikhae (fermented pollack) to more upscale dishes like sous vide steak and pork, Seogyo Gourmet is slowly changing people’s perception of basic Korean staples and elevating them to different heights. Using modern cooking techniques learned from Michelin-star restaurants in New York — including famed three-star restaurant Eleven Madison Park — the head chef does an impeccable job recreating abai-soondae based off of his 103-year-old grandma’s family recipe. Eaten steamed or in soup form, each bite is clean, light, and palate-pleasing, especially when paired with different types of local salts and saewujeot (fermented baby shrimp). Not to hate on the budget-friendly varieties found on the street or local markets (which often carry an unpleasant, porky off-smell), you won’t find anything comparable to these handmade varieties. It’s also worth mentioning the restaurant carries an extensive lineup of traditional and modern alcohol, ranging from artisanal makgeolli (fermented rice wine) to high-end, premium soju. If you ask nicely, they’ll happily oblige with samplers to help make decisions a little easier.
As much as I love the food here, I can’t express how much respect I have for Chef Choi (who I simply refer to as Chef). In a business that’s cutthroat and shortcuts are the norm to maximize profits, none of that happens here.
Michelin Guide Seoul 2018 even recognized their efforts with a new award named Michelin Plate, a designation given to restaurants that serve exceptional food high in quality and taste — putting them on the culinary map for possible star recognition in the future. Here’s what they had to say about the up-and-coming restaurant, which just happens to provide friendly service in English and Korean — something that is severely lacking in a metropolitan city such as Seoul.
Excerpt from Michelin Guide Seoul 2018:
“At Seogyo Gourmet, Chef Choi Ji-
Food: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Seogyo Gourmet 서교고메
Seogyo-dong 442-30 (서울 마포구 서교동 442-30)
Hours: Open every day on evenings 6:00 ~ 10:00 pm except Mondays
Click here for an interactive map: http://naver.me/xv7VO78U