Buam-Dong, a neighborhood slightly off Gyeongbok Palace is one of my secret hideouts here in Seoul. Located in between Inwang Mountain and Bukgak Mountain, this quaint neighbourhood has its charming personality every single season. A simple check on Naver (a Korean equivalent of Google search engine) will do the talk– a large amount of beautiful pictures are taken in this relatively quiet but equally enchanting little community all year round.
This picture was taken at Buam-dong this spring. It is certainly a place with a nice blend of humanity and tradition. Hidden in the mountain trails are various galleries, cafes and restaurants with different characteristics, certainly a neighborhood worth exploring. One of the more generally known cafes here in Buam-dong is Cafe Sanmootoonge, which I blogged about some time ago.
I believe most of the Seoulites will keep one or two “secret restaurant lists” in mind, for that impromptu visitor, a loved one’s visit, or that important date that we might eventually encounter during our stay here. One of my secret weapon for entertaining my friends and family to Seoul is this restaurant hidden in the lush greeneries of Buam-dong, the 소소한 풍경 [read: Sosohan Poong-gyeong]. A restaurant located in a cosy mansion in the mountain, this is perhaps where you might want to check out if you are looking for a place to dine in, especially in the day time at least in my opinion!
To be frank, I wasn’t aware of how beautiful the restaurant would look like in the day. I had always dined in during dinner time! However, I managed to find some nicely taken pictures of the restaurant on these Naver blogs. (Kudos to these Naver bloggers!) The restaurant has a beautiful outdoor terrace for their guests to dine outdoor from spring to autumn.
And so my friends and I visited the place in the early winter. The restaurant offers Fusion Korean dishes and meals are served plated, and divided into courses. They have 3 lunch course categories, with price ranging from KRW14,000/ 18,000/ 23,000 per person; and 3 Dinner courses ranging from KRW19,000/ 25,000/35,000. A simple decode here: course A for both lunch and dinner are the basics, B and C come with various add-ons. The higher price you pay, the more dishes, and of course the more premium ingredients you get.
We selected Course A, the Basics for our dinner. Two of us had smoked duck as main, and the other opted for the grilled 3-layered pork.
Pumpkin Porridge the Korean way. The porridge was to a very smooth, soup-like texture. Not too sweet, not too bland, bits of almond flakes add a little crumbly texture.
Dinner napkin nicely embroidered with the restaurant name.
The salad with orange dressing sprinkled with assorted nuts. Well, it tastes just like… salad. Nothing special to brag about.
More pictures while waiting for the next dish to arrive.
The assorted pancakes. This gorgeous dish is looking appetising on the table. It comes with 3 rolled pancakes and a few pieces of veggies pancakes. The flour pancake roll with kimchi fillings was good.
Some pickles which go well with the vegetable pancakes.
And then the arrival of the side dishes and the salt grilled shrimp. Frankly speaking, I was very disappointed with the shrimp. Perhaps for its poor size and the tough, rubbery texture. Worse of all, it comes with a very fishy smell.
Other side dishes. In case you are unaware, all side dishes are refillable.
And so here comes our main dishes, the oriental smoked duck and the grilled 3 layered pork. The duck meat was soft and succulent, with a very, very mild medicinal herb aftertaste. An interesting dish and I find it especially palatable if you pair the duck with the pickled chillies or pickled leaves, together with some rice. Grilled 3-layered pork was soft and juicy, with slight crisp at the skin.
I prefer the pork over the smoked duck. As the marinate of the latter was a tad too salty and overpowering. The pork was, however, a good one. Oozing with succulent fat, it was grilled to a beautiful moist, tender texture. Certainly the best dish of the night.
Brown rice and the complimentary bean paste soup.
Dessert was a cube of Korean-styled jelly, a little pathetic but no complain, as we didn’t pay more for a more sumptuous dinner that night.
Night time at the restaurant. The atmosphere was slightly different from the day time. Personally I prefer to visit the place in the day time.
If you’re wondering how does the place look like in the day, here are some of the pictures I found online. This series of pictures are from various local online publications, Naver blogs and firstsoju.com.
There is a big private room at the corner of the mansion, adorned with coloured cushions and matchy drawings that were carefully selected by the owner. An inviting space to spend an afternoon with a group of friends.
Level 1 can be converted into terrace dining area in spring, summer and autumn. The natural sunlight lit up the space, giving off a fresh, warm and home-y image, a tastefully renovated space perfect for a restaurant that provides family-style Korean fusion dining.
Writer’s Note: An interesting place with good dining atmosphere, but with hits and misses on the food. I think it could be the course that we had opted for. The overall online review for their Lunch Course A (which does not include the shrimp) are good though. I like their main, the 3-layered pork, the pancakes and their side dishes. Since their Caprese salad and spicy egg plant soup received good feedback, if you decided to come here, I’d recommend you to choose Course C, or if you’re really on budget, get their Course A during Lunch time. Dinner Course A is a little tricky. I would rather add another KRW 6,000 to upgrade to Course B that comes with a better menu without the shrimp.
Jahamun-ro, 70 gil-75, Jongno-gu, Seoul.
Phone: 02-395 5035
Operation Time: 12 noon – 9pm.
Korean Version of address: 서울시 종로구 자하문로 40길 75 (부암동)
1. Coming out from Gyeongbok Palace Station (경복궁역) Exit No. 3, walk straight about 100 meters until you reach the 2nd bus stop. (check the electronic board, it should indicate buses number 1020, 7022, 7212.) 2. Board any of the 3 buses above (1020, 7022, 7212) and alight at Buam-Dong Community Service Centre 부암동주민센터 [read: Bu-am-dong Ju-min Sen-to]. The bus journey is roughly about 10 mins. a total 6 stops (including destination stop) before alighting. 3. After alighting from the bus, try to locate this particular cafe.
4. This particular cafe, Espresso Club is one of my favourite in Seoul. Visit them if you want some serious coffee retreat. Will write about it in future post. To visit Sanmotoonge Cafe, take the route beside Espresso Club, stay left and keep walking.
5. Then you will reach a 3-level tall white building at the road fork (check picture below). Choose the left hand trail (the blue arrow). You’ll see a mansion right after the 3-level white building. That’s the restaurant.