Ilmi Gisa Sikdang 일미기사식당 (Hoegi-dong, Seoul)

All bibimbaps are not created equal. I thought the best ones were from Jeonju, its birthplace, but then I recently came across this anomaly recommended by the friendly owner of a local gisa sikdang. No mashup of vegetables and rice in hot sauce like most places. This one’s a minimalist bibimbap with focus: seasoned ground pork and sprouts on a bed of thinly sliced red lettuce. Although simple in appearance, it’s mighty big on taste with a light, clean, and refreshing texture – qualities not associated with standard bibimbaps. Working in the kitchen as a chef, you notice small details that would otherwise go unnoticed by regular customers, but the lettuce leaves here were fresh and crisp (as though they were just plucked from their backyard garden?) and they were cut thin and uniformly. This small difference made the biggest difference because it wasn’t a workout chewing up the roots, sprouts, and other vegetables in a normal bibimbab. This was a welcome change for me and now I frequent this gisa sikdang at least once a week when in need of a healthy, quick bite. The accompanying banchan and soup are also worthy of praise at this hidden gem called Ilmi Gisa Sikdang.

Gisa sikdang is a restaurant specializing in fare for the hard-working taxi drivers in Korea, a picky bunch when it comes to food. They usually work 12-hour shifts with few breaks in between, so the worst thing that could happen to them is wasting that valuable time on crappy food. Fortunately for them, most gisa sikdangs cater to their every need by offering comfort food that is delicious, filling, and reasonably priced. Parking-friendly and quick service are also hallmarks of most gisa sikdangs, making it a quick-eat for busy taxi drivers and regular citizens alike. If you happen to chat up with a driver, don’t hesitate to ask where to find good eats – they’ve been a great source for me over the years.

Food: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars

Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Value5 out of 5 stars

Ilmi Gisa Sikdang 일미기사식당

60-267 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu (동대문구 회기동 60-267)

Phone: 02-966-2761

Click here for an interactive map:


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