Ildeung Sikdang 일등식당 (Mangwon-dong, Seoul)

Over the course of four years scouring every nook and cranny of Seoul for traditional restaurants, I realized that I’ve developed a few “theories” when searching for matjips, the Korean term for “tasty restaurants.” One of them is signage. If the restaurant’s sign is plain, simple, and unassuming, you’re probably guaranteed a solid meal. Another is a single item menu. A restaurant specializing in a single dish won’t ever disappoint — at least in my experience — because when you’re confident enough to serve one dish, it’s most likely perfected to attract a specific group of diners.

These two traits apply to a fantastic local eatery in Mangwon-dong called Ildeung Sikdang. They serve only one dish in the form of a mighty bbyeo haejang guk (hangover soup with pork bones at 6,000 won), which is a mini-version of gamjatang minus the potatoes — and it’s packed full of tender, meaty pork bones and outer cabbage leaves called woogeuji. The broth is soothing and nothing on the spicy side, rather nuttier and more umami from the dwenjang. Simply put, it’s a comforting soup I could see myself eating every day if I lived nearby.

Plain signage, single item menu, and 30 years under its belt. This is Korean comfort food at its best — and all for only 6,000 won!

Food: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars

Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Ambiance: ★★★½ out of 5 stars

Value: ★★★★★ out of 5 stars

Ildeung Sikdang 일등식당

Mangwon-dong 476-1, Mapo-gu (서울 마포구 망원동 476-1)

Phone: 02-333-0361

Hours: Open every day 7:00 am ~ 9:00 pm except Mondays

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