When I think about winter food, my mind goes immediately to hot soups or stews.
Winter is approaching here in Korea and it can be very cold, so I thought would be a good idea to talk about one of the most popular season dishes: manduguk (만두국).
Manduguk is a dumplings soup of hot broth. The dumplings can be filled with meat or vegetables.
I went with a friend (thank you Minhee!) to visit one of the best mandu restaurant in Seoul. I have been there before, when I visited South Korea last year. I was particularly impressed with the taste of those dumplings, so I was looking forward to go back there.
Kong 궁 Restaurant (www.koong.co.kr) is a family run restaurant, located in a small alley of Insadong. It was founded by the grandmother of the current owner, who brought the recipe with her while fleeing from North Korea. Nowadays, the granddaughter serves manduk using the exact same recipe.
The place is not easy to find, since it’s located in a small alley of Insadong so will give you directions. From Anguk station (line 3) go out at exit 6 and proceed down on Insadong. Turn left at Hana Art gallery – 하나아트캘러리 (a Pharmacy is on that corner). Take then the first on the left. You will find the restaurant on your left.
After reaching the restaurant we had to wait for 10 minutes to be seated since it was packed and customers were mostly families.
The menu is essential and focusing on manduguk and pajeon (pancakes). The options of mandu are vegetable and meat dumplings, as well as single serving or served in a casserole. Several pancakes are available, including seafood, mungbean and pepper&chovies jeon.
Last year I tried the simple dumpling soup but this we decide to try the casserole version.
This casserole dumpling soup was prepared with a beef broth and included mixed vegetables (carrot, zucchini), mushrooms and slices of boiled beef. Also rice cakes were in the soup, but this is a different kind from the usually sliced South Korean rice cakes. In this soup special round shape rice cakes were used (choraengi rice cakes) that are used mostly in North Korea.
A burner was placed on the table, to let the dumpling cook to perfection. After a few minutes our dish was ready to be eaten. The spiciness of the dish given by the red and green peppers added to the broth, was medium.
The smell coming from the casserole was amazing and the taste was even better. The dumplings (both meat and vegetable version) were compact and with a single bite your mouth would be pleased by their taste. The other ingredients of the soup were cooked nicely and the rice cakes added a different texture to the mix. It’s a complete dish, filling and enjoyable that can really warm you up in cold winter days.
If you fancy some warm, comfort food, you should try this soup.