Seoul Food Tour with Haechi
Episode 5: Dongdaemun's Saengseon-gui Alley & Dakhanmari Alley
Even if you've just come to this food alley by chance, you'll know you've reached Saengseon-gui Alley because your mouth will begin to salivate from the deep, delicious smells coming from the alley. But this small stretch of road is not only the home of Saengseon-gui Alley, it is also the home of Dakhanmari Alley. The combination of both of these food alleys in one area is one major temptation that many people cannot resist.
The owners of the saengseon-gui restaurants in this food alley are busy even before the sun comes up, going to the fish markets to purchase the day's catch and getting everything prepared before the first customers arrive for their morning meals. The owners sprinkle the fish with salt and leave them to mature for a day. Then they cook the fish briefly on the charcoal grill to get rid of excessive oils before grilling them to perfection for the next order. You could say that the saengseon-gui here is great due to fresh ingredients, but the real reason the saengseon-gui here is so delicious is due to the fact that the fish is charcoal-grilled. According to the owner of Daeseong Jip (대성집), the first saengseon-gui restaurant to open in this food alley back in 1979, saengseon-gui is not proper saengseon-gui unless it's been fired over a charcoal grill because the deep, roasted flavor of charcoal-grilled saengseon-gui cannot be achieved with a gas grill. And because of this reason, every owner of every saengseon-gui restaurant in this food alley grills saengseon-gui on charcoal grills outside of their restaurants, in the heat of summer and in the cold of winter, come rain or shine.
|Left) The delicious aromas bring people right off the street!|
Right) The owner of the Daeseong Jip restaurant, the first restaurant to open over 32 years ago!
Batches of geotjeori (겉절이) and kongnamul (콩나물) are seasoned and served fresh as banchan every day.
|Left) Fish are bought fresh daily from local fish markets and prepared right away.|
Right) The fish are sprinkled with salt and left to mature for a day.
The secret to achieving the amazing flavors of saengseon-gui is firing them up on a charcoal grill!
|1 Kongchi (꽁치; Mackerel Pike): Can be characterized as having a deep roasted flavor.|
|2 Gulbi (굴비; Dried Yellow Corvina): Salted and dried yellow corvina. Gulbi is generally on the expensive side, so it is often given as a present during the holidays.|
|3 Samchi (삼치; Japanese Spanish Mackerel): Can be characterized as having a deep roasted flavor.|
|4 Godeungeo (고등어; Blue Mackerel): The most popular item on the menu.|
When you order saengseon-gui, what you're really ordering is saengseon baekban. For those of you who are not familiar with the term baekban, it is essentially a set meal that consists of rice, a type of soup or stew, and various sorts of banchan. Saengseon-gui Baekban is a baekban meal in which saengseon gui is the main dish.
|Left) The easiest way to eat saengseon-gui is by removing the spine of the fish first.|
Right) The tastiest way to eat saengseon-gui is by dipping it into the sauce made of ganjang and wasabi!
"Dakhanmari" literally means "one chicken", and as the name suggests, is a dish in which a whole chicken is served! Originally dakhanmari was commonly eaten by merchants and tradespeople from the markets nearby who needed to eat a big meal very quickly. But nowadays people of all ages and backgrounds come to this food alley looking to eat some dakhanmari! Dakhanmari is not only a delicious meal, it's one of the best health foods around. Koreans often eat dakhanmari in the summer because it is believed that the dish’s high nutritional content replaces the important vitamins and minerals lost through excessive sweating and physical exertion in the hot weather.
Although every dakhanmari restaurant in this food alley has its own following of loyal customers, there is one that stands out as the only restaurant to be selected to be in the Korean Michelin Guide, and that would be Jinokkwa Halmae (진옥화할매집). Jinokkwa Halmae first opened their doors in 1978, but was featured in the Michelin Guide in May of 2011. The Michelin Guide describes the dakhanmari at this restaurant as looking simple, but being very delicious, and that adding noodles to the broth at the end is a must.
Eating dakhanmari is a very hands-on experience. If you're going for some dakhanmari, what usually happens is that it will be served in an aluminum pot and placed on a portable gas range located in the center of your table. From this point on you take care of the rest. As the chicken continues to cook, you can control the heat settings, add as much or as little of the special seasoning and sliced garlic as you desire, decide whether you want to add some kimchi to the pot or not, and at some point cut the chicken up into bite-sized pieces using a pair of kitchen scissors and a pair of tongs. Once the chicken is thoroughly cooked, you can mix some spicy mustard sauce, special seasoning, and ganjang in a little saucer to make a sauce for dipping. Then it's time to eat! And don't forget to order some noodles to add to the leftover broth at the end to round out the meal!
How to Eat Dakhanmari
Excerpted from the Michelin Guide Korea's entry on the Jinokkwa Halmae restaurant
|Just like the name suggests, dakhanmari comes out as a whole chicken! You can add-on tteok (rice cakes), potatoes, mushrooms, green onions and more according to your tastes. Be sure to cut the chicken up into bite-sized pieces!|
|Left) Add some sliced garlic and a bit of the special seasoning to the bowl.|
Right) Mix some spicy mustard sauce, special seasoning, and ganjang to make a sauce for dipping!
|Left) Crunchy, refreshing kimchi to go along with your dakhanmari!|
Right) The meal isn't over once the chicken is all gone! Noodles are added to the leftover broth to make kalguksu!
|Left) These restaurants get so crowded on the weekends, you have to get a numbered ticket!|
Right) If you find yourself having to sit at a low table, be sure to keep your shoes safe in a shoe bag!
The Secret to Delicious Dakhanmari
Explained by the owner of Wonhalmae Somunnan Dakhanmari (원할매 소문난 닭한마리)
|Left) Chicken broth is prepared fresh every morning.|
Right) Medicinal herbs and roots are added for flavor and nutritional benefits!
|Only pullets are used to make dakhanmari to ensure optimal tenderness. Pullets are cooked brieftly first before being put into bowls of hot chicken broth.|
Doesn't everything look so delicious!!!
|Left) The Wonhalmae Somunnan Dakhanmari restaurant was one of the first restaurants in this alley!|
Right) According to the restaurant owner, dakhanmari originates from the Gangwon-do countryside.
How to Get There
Take subway line 4 to Dongdaemun Station and go out of exit 9. Walk for about 200 meters and take a left after IBK bank. Walk for about 30 meters and take a right into the food alley.
Saengseon Gui Restaurants
|A Jeonju Jip (전주집)
02-2267-6897 (Closed on Sundays)
B Honam Jip (호남집)
C Jeongeup Jip (정읍집)
D Saengseon Bonga (생선본가)
E Naju Jip (나주집)
F Obuja (오부자)
|A Euijeongbu Jip (의정부집)|
B Myeongdong Dakhanmari (명동 닭한마리 시조점)
C Myeongdong Dakhanmari (명동 닭한마리 본점)
D Umnamu Dakhanmari (엄나무 닭한마리)
E Myeongdong Dakhanmari (명동 닭한마리 별관)
F Jinokkwa Halmae Dak (진옥화 할매 닭)
G Jinwonjo Bosindak (진원조 보신닭)
H Wonhalmae Somunnan Dakhanmari (원할매 소문난 닭한마리)
|Saengseon Baekban: 6,000 won / person||Dakhanmari: 18,000 won for one dish (not including add-ons)|
One dish can feed about 2 - 3 people.
|7 a.m. - 9 p.m.||11 a.m. - 10 p.m.|
|Dongdaemun Market: Korea's largest wholesale and retail shopping district comprised of traditional markets and shopping centers. See More>>||Changsin-dong Toy Wholesale Market: Korea's largest toy and stationery market with over 100 stores. See More>>||Cheonggye’s prominent landmark No. 4: Fashion Square (Wall of Culture) |
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[2011-06-19 21:26 Input / 2012-02-17 16:45 Modify]
Article source: Seoul Metropolitan Government Tourism Division