4.110 Seonji Guk Bab


25 (Thu) April 2013

Seonji Guk Bab


at Sigol Jib

-Insa, Jongro, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with MtG

Sigol Jib (시골집) is a Korean restaurant.  According to the woman behind the cash register, the restaurant was founded over 30 years ago, while the building itself – a home with the traditional rectangular floor plan that consists of rooms along the perimeter enclosing a central/communal courtyard – is believed to be over 100 years old, a landmark if there ever was one.  It’s located in the heart of the city, in a back alley off Jongro 1-ga, the starting point of Seoul’s oldest paved street.  Ironically, the name of the establishment means “country (sigol) house (jib).”  The menu consists of typical/traditional Korean fare.  Most individual portion meals are priced below 10,000 won, anju plates between 10,000 to 20,000 won, and set meals for larger parties 60,000/80,000/90,000 won.  Mostly at lunch but sometimes at dinner, groups of coworkers will often reserve a room and a spread at the many places like this in the area, one of the city’s busiest office districts.

The restaurant’s claim to fame is the seonji guk bab.  They’re so proud of it, in fact, that it’s made right smack in the middle of the courtyard, boiling away in a pair of huge cauldrons, ladled out into bowls as customers walk directly by.
While the visual does provide a helpful reminder of what to eat, the setup doesn’t instill much confidence in hygiene.
No wasted real estate here; with the entire perimeter used into private dining rooms, the only available storage space is right smack in the middle of the property.
On this evening, all of the rooms were taken by the time that we’d arrived at 1930 – mostly older male customers, which is always a good sign – so we had to sit at a tiny 2-person table on the porch.  Popular place.

The seonji guk bab was excellent.  As with most soups featuring seonji, the doenjang-based broth was extremely pungent and dense, strong enough to match the intense flavor of the blood, supremely rich in beef flavor, perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of heat.  Even the seonji was okay, even though I’m still not entirely a fan and didn’t really eat much of it.  If I liked seonji, the dish could’ve earned a 4.0.

(See also FOODS.)

(See also PLACES.)

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