I caught up with my good friend Korean Bapsang the other day and—just as I trust her authentic, homestyle Korean recipes—she always entrusts me with restaurant recommendations when she visits Seoul. Last year we made a memorable visit to Buwon Myeonok 부원면옥 for Pyeongyang naengmyeon. This year we feasted on delicious Korean BBQ here at Yonggang Sikdang 용강식당, a humble four-table eatery in Euljiro that specializes in LA Galbi hand-grilled over yeontan 연탄 (charcoal briquettes).
Honestly, I wanted to check out a well-known gamaek-jip 가맥집 (store + beer + restaurant) specializing in the same dish and in the same area, but little did I realize that the entire street would be devoted to LA Galbi or the like. So, per custom, I went around asking a few random questions to some of the shop owners. Yonggang Sikdang was the only place that grabbed my attention, radiating a homey and inviting feeling from the kind staff and humble decor.
Let’s get straight into the food: For only 20,000 won you get a platter of deliciously smoky and flavorful short ribs that are individually hand-grilled, then thoughtfully cut into bite-size pieces before being served with excellent banchan, most notably the ggaetnip jangachi 깻잎장아찌 (pickled perilla leaves). While the galbi was top-notch (pictures don’t lie), the colorful set of banchan were also excellent, tasting clean and “freshly” made. Instead of being doused/salted in soy sauce, the perilla leaves were very tart and vinegary, which helped balance out the meatiness of the galbi. Needless to say, we got seconds on the banchan and finished off every dish to show our appreciation to the kind and friendly owners—who hid their annoyance quite well as we took countless pictures of them in action.
Overall, this was a fantastic meal that ranks high on my list of places that hand-grill their meats for customers (also check out Gyeongsangdo Jip). Not only will I be back for their galbi, but friends tell me they have an interesting take on a lesser-known dish called osam bulgogi. With the usual suspects of squid and pork belly in a spicy sauce, the owner (or staff) will directly mix the dish by hand with rice and then top it off with an egg yolk. I haven’t had it yet, but others swear it’s just as good, if not better than the galbi.
With fantastic food and great company, I had a fun time talking about Korean food over Korean food with Hyosun. We even walked around the Euljiro area to see first-hand the constantly changing landscape that’s becoming all too common in Seoul. If you enjoy cooking as much as me, make sure to check out Korean Bapsang and her easy-to-follow recipes–which she tests at least four or five times before publishing. Mad respect!
Food: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★½ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★ ½ out of 5 stars
Yonggang Sikdang 용강식당
Inhyun-dong 2ga 92-9 인현동 2가 92-9
Hours: Open 10:00 am ~ 10:00 pm except Sundays
Click here for an interactive map: http://naver.me/GKOwfL85