Friday, January 22, 2010

Jirisan - Seoul, Korea (Insadong)

Jirisan specializes in serving Korean traditional foods. The restaurant is also popular for its traditional Korean style, architecture and decor. You walk into what looks like an indoor garden with a bunch of potted trees and there's even a little stream with koi fishes swimming around.

There are small tables scattered throughout various private rooms. It feels like you're eating in someone's home.

You can order a la carte here, but we got the han jung shik meal, which is a several course meal. But unlike Western course meals, which is served one at a time, at a Korean han jung shik restaurant, you get some 15 side dishes (kimchi, pickled vegetables, a salad, a medley of noodles and vegetables, and various cooked herbs and leafy greens) to start. Then the hot food starts to arrive one by one. While we were munching on the side dishes, they brought out kimchi pancakes, grilled fish and two types of stews.

We got the doengjang jjigae (soy bean paste and vegetable stew) and biji jjigae (soy bean stew).Their soy bean paste as well as their tofu and biji are homemade. The white curdled looking thing on the bottom right side of the picture below is crumbled tofu with seaweed. It was really good. I think they squeeze out the excess liquid in the tofu, crumble it up and mix it with little seaweed pieces. It was the first time Jung and I tried this side dish so we really enjoyed the texture and novelty of this dish.

Here is a salad with some sort of dressing (it escapes my mind at the moment what it was), white kimchi, japchae (Korean vermicelli noodles) and nokdumuk (mung bean jelly).

Here's a view of half of our table. All of this for about $12 a person. My mom is also shameless when it comes to asking for more side dishes. She even asked for more biji jjigae, which they happily provided. I love Korean places! Needless to say, we were stuffed by the end. The great thing about eating at places like this is that you end up eating tons of vegetables, so it's pretty healthy. Jung remarked that it's the first time he's had a meatless meal and felt full from eating primarily vegetables. I didn't even realize till he mentioned it that there was no meat in any of the dishes. Well we did have grilled fish, but that was about it. Pretty impressive!

It wouldn't be a proper meal for Jung without some makgeolli, or Korean rice wine, right?

Now how to get here, it gets a bit tricky. I found pretty accurate directions online. From Exit 6 of Anguk Station (Subway Line No. 3), walk about 40 meters to Insadong-daero (street between Crown Bakery and GS 25 Convenience Store). Proceed about 80 meters, and turn left at Insadong-3-gil. You will be walking through small narrow streets that look like this.

Walk to the far end until you reach a T-intersection. Turn left and walk a short distance. The restaurant is opposite to Dimibang restaurant, on your right hand side.


  1. that salad tasted like pineapples remember? haha

  2. Good memory Jung! I totally didn't remember. We ate way too much in the past month, I can't keep all of it straight.