The first snow of winter arrived today. As the weather turns colder, I am craving for a hot pot to warm up my stomach every single meal. If you are planning your winter trip to Korea, it is time you do some research on the warm dishes for cold days in Korea. More often than not, I find people misunderstand Korean food. Kimchi and Spicy are the two boring words people use to talk about Korean dishes. If you think “Kimchi-land‘ people eat nothing else but kimchi, or that Korean eats BBQ every day, my dear, you are missing out real big in the culinary world of South Korea, a cosmopolitan country rich in tradition and history.
To many Asians residing in Seoul, what we like about the city is that we can easily find a Korean dish resembles a home dish we grow up eating. (We’re all Asian anyway!) I get to eat Su-jae-bee here, which is exactly the Korean form of Mee-Hoon-Kueh or Ban-Mian at home. (And Chinese call them mian-geda 面疙瘩 too). Our culinary culture is, in fact, similar. Another fun fact I learn here is: the hot pepper flakes, an essential ingredient in making Kimchi and all the Korean spicy dishes only came to Korea in the 17th century. That means, long time ago, Korean lived without spicy hot pepper, even when they were making Kimchi. What I want to say here is, there are a lot more options.
UPDATE 2020: Duroomi is now permanently closed.
The lotus leaf meal at Duroomi 두루미 키친 is one. It is a go-to place when you are sick of your typical Kimchi-land food. If you’re traveling with your folks, I am sure they’ll like it. (Tested and proven when my family came to visit.) Hidden in Samcheongdong, the restaurant serves contemporary Korean food using lotus leaves as the main ingredient. Their hot pot set lunch is perfect on a windy or snowy winter day, especially when you’ve exhausted your feet from exploring the neighborhood.
This bungalow-turn-restaurant is an establishment perfect for a family gathering and/or couple dining. It is truly inviting with its cosy, home-like atmosphere as if we were invited over to a friend’s house for a meal.
Meals here comes in a set. Each hot pots has a minimum order for two person but all sets come with refillable side dishes. You can choose to top up another KRW 5,000 for a lotus leaf steamed rice or porridge, or plain noodles to complete the meal. We selected the Chadulbaegi bosot jeongol 차돌박이 버섯전골 (beef brisket and mushroom hotpot) and a lotus leaf steamed rice each.
What I like about dining at Duroomi is: all of their side dishes taste like home cooking to me and I haven’t had a dish that wasn’t good. I especially love their Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles stir-fried with meat and vegetables) and Bokkeum Kimchi (Stir fry Kimchi), two very common home dishes I used to eat at my Korean foster parents’ place during my language training days – comforting, soothing and filling.
Now here comes the lotus leaf glutinous rice, Yeonyip-bap 연잎밥 — another Korean version of the classic Chinese dim sum, the Loh-Mai-Gai. While the Chinese lotus leaf glutinous rice is rich in flavour and tends to be more greasy, the Yeonyip-bap has a muted earthy aroma of ginkgo nuts, chestnuts and red dates, with minimal seasoning.
A chorus of aroma hits my nose as I unwrap the lotus packet. The rice and fillings are cooked evenly, with a slight burnt at the sides. I love the chewy texture of the lotus aroma infused rice. The leafy nuance and fragrance not only pairs well with all the other banchan (side dishes), but also the Chadulbaegi hot pot.
Here come our Chadulbaegi, the beef brisket and mushroom hot pot. It was served together with a small jar of homemade lotus leaf powder to add to the soup for a stronger lotus leaf aroma. The mushrooms, veggies and beef were cooked to tender perfection while the soup is infused with the teasing aroma of the leaf – a perfect melding of flavours! A hot, comforting soup-y lunch in winter, you couldn’t have asked for more.
The meal comes with a cup of tea. While the folks were taking their rest, I went up to the 2nd floor of the restaurant and took some pictures of their tastefully decorated interior.
Writer’s Note: If you are travelling to Seoul in winter, be sure to bookmark the blog down as this could be your saviour when you’re sick of your typical Kimchi-land food (aye, I can feel you.) This is one of my go-to places in Samcheongdong during the colder season. If you have developed a hal-mae ipmat (할매 입맛, a taste for anything traditional, like a grandma’s taste), this is where you and your like-minded friends should totally visit.
At Duroomi 두루미 키친
27-6 Samcheong-Dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul.
서울시 종로구 삼청동 27-6
1. Take any subway line to Anguk Station 안국역, take exit no.2
2. Once you come up from exit no. 2, walk straight for about 12M and locate a bus stop for maeul bus Jongno 02 (종로02 )
3. Take bus Jongno 02 (종로02) and alight 6 stops later at Gamsa-won (감사원 The Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea).
4. Cross the zebra crossing, and you’ll find yourself in front of Samcheongdong Post Office (삼청동 우체국). Follow my direction in the above picture, walk down to the direction where the blue arrow is pointing.
4. Continue to walk down the slope and you’ll find yourself passing Vietnam Embassy of Korea, then the University of North Korean Studies, at your left-hand side. Keep going down the road until you reach another junction. Then turn left.
5. Continue walking down and take note of an alley at your left-hand side. Turn into the small alley & you’ll see the restaurant.
It looks quite complicated but if you follow my guide closely, you’ll be able to locate the Duroomi restaurant in about 5-10 minutes after alighting the bus.
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