Woori Jip Sikdang 우리집식당 (Cheongryangi-dong, Seoul)

Me: How do you make a profit by only charging 6,000 won ($6) for all this food?

Emo: As the restaurant name suggests, our restaurant is home to many regular customers who have supported us from the beginning. We’ve been open for over 15 years, but we’re happy to keep our prices on the low side so our customers aren’t burdened over a meal.

Me: Even if you raised prices just a little, it would still be a bargain because your bori bap jeongsik (barley rice set meal) is the best I’ve ever had – not only delicious, filling, and healthy but a reminder of the terrific countryside meals I experienced in Gangwon Province. And your doengjang jjigae alone with naengi (shepherd’s purse) and sigol doenjang (traditionally-made fermented soybean paste) is worth coming for. Just unbelievable.

Emo: Thank you. We get that a lot from our customers. So much that we even started selling the sigol doenjang by the kilo so customers can make it at home. By the way, we appreciate you always finishing the entire tray and extras when you visit. Not many people can do that. As restaurant owners, nothing makes us happier when customers complete their entire meal.

Pictured is the 6,000 won bori bap jeongsik with refillable banchan, which changes daily and made fresh every morning (minus the kimchi varieties). Not pictured is the classic soongnyoong (scorched rice broth), steamed cabbage with doengjang dip, and fresh lettuce varieties.

One week later…

Me: So far during my meal, I’ve seen you serve two elderly people without taking any money and hand out free refills of rice to your younger patrons. Do you do this often?

Emo: I’m not sure you know this, but this neighborhood (Cheongnyangri) isn’t the wealthiest area and there are quite a few homeless and destitute elderly. It’s hard to refuse them as long as we have enough food for regular service.

Me: You remind me of an emo who runs a janchi guksu shop near Hyochang Park Station. Not only does she serve some mouthwatering noodle dishes, she doesn’t refuse anyone because of money. And, to my knowledge, her dishes are 3,000 won ($3) all across the board.

Emo: It’s good to hear that there are good people out there. We all have to do our part to help others in need.

Not only is this emo a saint, she continues to surprise me with her other dishes besides her signature bori bap jeongsik. Pictured is kimchi jjigae (6,000 won) and deoduk gui jeongsik (10,000 won). As expected, both dishes were excellent, but the grilled deoduk root was something else. Previous ones were too chewy, dry, and bitter from an under-developed sauce. This was just the opposite – tender, moist, and the perfect sweet and savory gochujang-based sauce that gets caramelized without getting burnt. The lightly dressed lettuce, onions, and chili peppers added another layer of texture and taste. So delicious that I shared a few pieces with an inquisitive halmoni who kept peering my way. The pictured halmoni was one of the recipients of the free meal, and she showed her appreciation by taking out a paper cup and plastic bag to pack up every last bit of food on the tray.

Three days later…

Emo: You’re back again? You really weren’t joking when you said you were gonna try everything on the menu.

Me: Of course. I’ve loved everything so far and the food keeps getting better with each new visit. Also, I never told you this, but I work in the food industry and know that you probably don’t make much of a profit from your bori bap jeongsik. For that reason, I came with friends to eat and drink a lot – which is how many restaurants make a good portion of their profits.

Emo: We close a little earlier than most restaurants, but you’re right that we make much of our profit from alcohol sales. I never told you as well, but you’re the first customer to ever eat here with their dog in our 15 years of business. He was so quiet that I didn’t realize he was with you on your first visit.

Me: Yeah, most people don’t even know that I am wearing a dog backpack. Thank you for allowing him to eat with me as I know most elderly dislike dogs in a restaurant.

Emo: Don’t worry about them. I’m the owner and I say he’s welcome anytime. 😊

Pictured is frozen samgyeopsal (“naeng sam”), which compared to fresh pork belly is surprisingly quite robust with excellent texture. The emo uses a cast iron dome, allowing the all-important pork fat to run down and cook accompanying veggies/banchan for some serious BBQ wraps, including ssukgat (crown daisy) for a little bit of herby aromatics. Worrying that we might suffer from a hangover, the emo gifted us with a complimentary baek soondubu (non-spicy silken tofu soup) that was invigorating and quite addicting from the use of high-quality sesame oil. So much delicious yet affordable food with great hospitality and a homey atmosphere – quite fitting for a restaurant named Our Home Restaurant. ❤️

Food: ★★★★ ½ out of 5 stars

Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars

Value: ★★★★★ out of 5 stars

Woori Jip Sikdang 우리집식당 “Our Home Restaurant”

Address: Cheongryangi-dong 50-17 Dongdaemun-gu 동대문구 청량리동 50-17

Hours: Open everyday 10:00 am ~ 10:00 pm except Sundays

Click here for an interactive map:  http://naver.me/GQwahtPl


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