Restaurant: 즐거운 나의집 돌솥밥
My Joyful House Dolsot Bap
Type: Traditional Korean (한식)
Location: Bunpyeong-dong (분평동)
Price: 10,000 for everything!
Having been in Korea so long, I get a lot of questions about where to take visitors that want “the Korean experience.” What is a place that can showcase what traditional Korean food has to offer?
I hate that question, because it has to be one of the most difficult to answer. You have your rice places, meat places, seafood places…it is going to be hard to satisfy everyone with a single answer unless I know intimate details about their visitor. However, one place that comes highly recommended is “즐거운 나의집 돌솥밥” (돌솥밥) in Bunpyeong-dong (분평동).
This fish is not deep fried, but has a nice crispy exterior that counters nicely with the flaky inside. The sauce on top is not over-powering, giving the fish a little bit of a sweet and savory flavor.
This is a traditional Korean rice restaurant, meaning that all you need to do is sit down, tell them how many people you have, and the rest is taken care of for you. Don’t know your numbers yet in Korean? Too much noraebang last night and your voice is shot? No sweat. Just hold up how many you have on your fingers. The workers will figure it out. You get a wide array of hot food and side dishes, meaning that even your picky little sister that only eats foods that are primary colors can find something to like. They have interesting salads, a couple kinds of meat, great veggies, and more. The highlight of the meal is the pan fried sole with teriyaki sauce.
Now, I am sure that some of you have been looking at the pictures and wondering what this thing is. This, my friends, is that namesake of the restaurant. 돌솥 (“Dolsot”) is Korean for a hot stone pot. The side dishes are meant to go along with the rice that comes in this bowl, and there is a little technique that comes with how to prepare it. I know what you are thinking: “Phil, it is rice. The technique is to open your mouth and shove the rice in. We are not completely stupid.” Good point. I did not mean to belittle you in any way, don’t worry! Just hear me out.
Step 1: cut a hole in the box. Err…wait, that is for something else. Let’s try this again. Step 1: scoop out the rice and put it in the accompanying bowl. The key to doing this is to not scrape out everything. Some of the rice will stick to the pot. THIS IS A GOOD THING! Don’t tire yourself out trying to get every last little bit of rice. This isn’t like Maxwell House and good to the last drop.
Step 2: pour the water that they give you into the pot with the leftover rice and cover it back up. Just let it sit there while you enjoy all of the food with your scooped out rice. Once you have had your fill and are ready for the end of the meal, the retained heat from the stone pot will allow you to enjoy the last phase of the meal.
Step 3: uncover the bowl to reveal that your crusty rice and water has magically transformed into 누룽지 (Nu-roong-ji), which is a mild-flavored crusty rice/soup dish. I am pretty sure Drake was talking about this dish when he said “the rice started at the bottom, now it is here”. Now, I know that this isn’t for everyone, as a lot of people will say that is tastes exactly like you would imagine water and rice mixed together would. However, it is part of the experience, and you don’t have to pay extra for it, so you might as well try it and see what you think. And that is it! You have just experienced Dolsot Bap. Oh, I forgot to mention the very unique way that they bring out your food.
Instead of hovering over you to put 30 dishes on the table while you awkwardly try to avoid the server and also make room for the ridiculous amount of food, they just wheel it all out, already prepared, on this bad boy. Yes, that is a dolly full of Korean goodness. It just slides right on top of the table, meaning it is quick and easy, and you don’t have to feel like you are constantly in the way while being served.
You can find Dolsot Bap in Bunpyeong-dong (분평동) in the building next to KB Bank, across the street from the Hyndai Daewoo apartment complex. It is on the 2nd floor of the “La Defense” building.