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Where to Eat in Jamsil Saenae, Seoul

The area around Seoul’s Jamsil Saenae station might seem like a wasteland of intestine barbecue restaurants, chain cafes, hofs, and claw arcades, but there’s a few hidden gems to be found amongst the riffraff.

Like most Seoulites, I spend most of my time close to home. Not just because the city is so incredibly vast, but because population density is so high, you can usually find everything you need from medical professionals to lawyers to spas to continuing education within a few blocks of where you live.

And so, despite the fact that most of the restaurants I actually want to eat at are all the way over in Mapo-gu, or clustered around Itaewon somewhere, I mostly have to make do with what’s nearby and easily accessible, otherwise I’d be spending half my life on the subway.

Here’s what I’ve managed to unearth in the last few years of living ’round these parts.

BON BON SANDWICH (봉봉 샌드위치)
It’s tempting to give Bon Bon Sandwich a pass because of its very strange location near the entrance of the 새마을시장, right across from a butcher where the smell of animal is alive and well.

You’d be missing out though.

Because the owner bakes his crusty French style baguettes right on site, and while not 100% super authentic, the sandwiches are delicious, filling and affordable. Choose from bahn mi, philly cheesesteak, beef taco or jerk chicken.

Closed on Mondays, Bon Bon Sandwich is open from 11AM – 9PM, with a break between 3 and 4PM. Prices range from 6,000 – 7,000KRW and you can add a drink or Americano for an extra 1,000 or 1,500KRW respectively.

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SSALTONG FRIED CHICKEN (쌀통닭 신천본점)
Admittedly, there are fried chicken joints on every other corner of every other street in Korea, and everyone has a favourite. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve tried enough fried chicken in Seoul to have a good basis for comparison.

And 쌀통닭 is the clear winner in my books.

Their original coating is light, extra crunchy and has the kind of seasoning and spice that makes you keep eating far beyond when you should. One bird costs from 15,900 – 19,900, depending on whether it’s boneless or not and the type of sauce, topping etc… and arrives at your house on a bed of shrimp chips along with the requisite pickled radish and a Pepsi.

Be warned though – on busy nights, they’ve been known NOT to answer the phone, and delivery can take up to an hour. If you’ve got a serious fried chicken hankering, order early.


 

화덕고깃간
화덕고깃간 is a rare find not just in Jamsil Saenae, but in Seoul itself. Not just because it’s the only one in the city (the other being in Daegu), but because it’s one of the few bbq places in Korea that sears its meat over an actual wood fire at your table.

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They sell various cuts of pork (no beef), but don’t go there if you’re looking for the usual 3-layer pork belly or sam-gyupsal. Because at 화덕고깃간, they only have huge cuts of 5-layer pork belly or oh-gyupsal.

Every person I’ve brought to this restaurant, Korean or not, has said it’s the best pork belly they’ve had in the country. It comes with a huge array of refillable sides, kimchi jiggae, a complementary skewer of veggies, and best of all, it doesn’t break the bank.

If you stay long enough, you might even get a chance to win some fire-roasted sweet potatoes with a game of rock, paper, scissors. And say congrats to the manager when you visit – he and his wife just had a baby girl. 🙂


 

LE TATIN (르 따땅)
Located on the B1 level of the Trizium 상가, Le Tatin is one of those hidden gems that doesn’t get much press, but survives with a quality product, affordable prices and a great location.

The owner, Wonwoo Lee, trained at New York’s prestigious Institute of Culinary Arts and that’s something you can taste in his savoury and sweet crepes, and baked goods. Everything is authentic, satisfying and super affordable.

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Read all about Le Tatin here.


 

*A note on Jamsil Saenae (잠실새내) subway station.
Jamsil Saenae used to be called Sincheon (신천) station, but was changed recently to avoid all the confusion between it and Sinchon (신촌) station (which is located all the way over by Hongdae). I still hear a lot of confusion amongst visitors AND Koreans, since Jamsil Saenae isn’t all that different from Jamsil (잠실), or Jamsillaru (잠실나), but at least you don’t find yourself on the exact opposite side of the city if you make a mistake.

Where do you live in Seoul? Are there any hidden gems in your neighbourhood? Tell us all about them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

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32 Comments Post a comment
  1. I have always wondered about south Kore and fried chicken. Here in Australia every Korean restaurant I’ve been too offers KFC, spicy and non-spicy and the chicken is always coasted with a generous serving of crispy 😀 To me it resembles very much like Western fried chicken…but of the Korean fried chicken I have tried, there’s something unique about it. Not sure what, but it tastes in a league of its own.

    That last bit and photo about sweet treats remind me how so many of these sweet treat places are popping up everywhere! It’s like eating sweets is now a dining experience in itself and a common thing to do – not just like eating cake on your birthdays and during celebratory events.

    February 19, 2018
    • Haha, they even have K-FC in Australia?? :p I think K-FC is different because of the spicy sauce which is uniquely Korean, but also because the coating is crispier and lighter than usual. Soooo delicious! There are so many different chains and independent shops here to get a fix, you really have to be careful how much you eat. Ya know I never used to have sweets for breakfast, but then I married Agri, who eats pastries for breakfast pretty much everyday (like Italians do), and now I kinda crave breakfast that way too… maybe not so good. 😉

      February 20, 2018
      • Yeah. Some Korean restaurants serve up KFC. It isn’t everywhere but not hard to find if you are looking for it. I haven’t tried it because all along I thought it is like your normal Western KFC, and perhaps also just as bad. Maybe you have a better idea 🙂

        Lol, Agri is really special. Eat sweets for breakfast all the time and still has a sporty bod. For me I need to start my mornings savoury or else the sugar will cause me to crash soon after.

        February 20, 2018
  2. Great tips – myself is getting hungry just by looking at the pictures 🙂

    February 20, 2018
    • There’s never any shortage of places to eat in Korea. You could spend your whole life just eating and going to cafes in Seoul (and a lot of people do haha).

      February 20, 2018
  3. This will be great for when I finally visit the Homeland in Sept!

    February 20, 2018
    • Oh nice! Is it your first trip to Korea? Are you staying nearby Jamsil Saenae? It’s a massive city, so where you stay really makes a difference to how much time you spend just traveling (and where you end up eating most of the time). 🙂

      February 20, 2018
      • Yes, it will be the first time (that I will remember). I am not exactly sure where we will be staying. We will probably look into Airbnbs when the date is a little closer.

        February 21, 2018
        • I always recommend that people book 2 different places when visiting – 1 south of the river in Gangnam/Yeoksam/Coex area, and one north of the river somewhere around Insadong/Bukchon or Hongdae. Like I said, it’s a HUGE city, and there’s stuff to see/do on BOTH sides of the river. It’s the best way to minimize travel time while still getting a taste of everything the city has to offer. 🙂

          February 21, 2018
  4. Makes me want to come back! Not just the food (although you dd entice me), but the memory of that sprawl of a city. So different and fun! Did you like it as soon as you moved there, or was it a process?

    February 21, 2018
    • The food is usually what people miss the most when they leave, and I’m sure I’ll be no different. The city has changed a lot since you were here…I liked it almost immediately, despite the challenges, and liked it more and more every year. It’s just in the last few, since Naia was born, that the pace has been wearing me down a bit…

      February 21, 2018
  5. looks pretty awesome. just how prevalent do u reckon peanuts is when eating out in Seoul?

    February 21, 2018
    • Ohhh are u allergic? 😩 it’s def not a common ingredient in Korean cuisine, but it could sneak into a few things… overall I think you’d be pretty safe 😁

      February 21, 2018
  6. wrpalomo #

    I live on the other side of Seoul (Mapo), so this list is helpful. Going to Jamsil (and Gangnam area) feels like it always have to be scheduled and not just a random type of “let’s go out and eat”:-)… i love how we get to have great places to go (and eat in) whichever part of the city we go to… even the nooks and alleys have hidden gems!

    February 24, 2018
    • Haha I feel exactly the same about Mapo Wendy. So sad really because you have so many new and exciting things happening in the restaurant world over there. My neighbourhood is pretty traditionally Korean with LOTS of families around, so places cater to that, but it’s slowly improving…

      February 25, 2018
  7. I don’t live in Seoul, I reside in Daejeon, but would probably make a trip for Bon Bon sandwiches, especially Bahn Mi. Oh man, it makes me think of the fresh and amazing Bahn Mi Sandwiches in Vietnam, but they are only about $1 haha. The deserts cafe is also calling my name…

    February 24, 2018
    • Bahn Mi seems to have taken over Seoul these days. It’s literally EVERYWHERE. There’s a new place on the B1 level of Lotte World Mall just called BAHN MI. Haven’t tried it yet, but you get the idea. 😉 If you do make it to Bon Bon one day, I’d recommend the cheesesteak though – the bahn mi is good, but the cheesesteak better.

      February 25, 2018
  8. Guess I should come and eat on your side of the city a bit more. That firewood bbq joint definitely looks appealing. You do need to get out more to this side of town though hahaah

    February 25, 2018
    • Haha yeah I know… especially since there’s so many places over there I really want to eat at. Well, now that the weather is soooo much better, I’ll have to make the trek more often. 😉

      February 26, 2018
  9. Nice synopsis of some great places to eat. I especially enjoyed your photos, particularly the colours and the arrangement of the photo presentation. Well done. I need to eat out even more often than I already do!

    February 25, 2018
    • Thanks Tash… these days, I mostly just embed photos from IG cuz it saves me the time of editing photos yet again (and time is a scarce resource when you have a toddler around).

      February 26, 2018
  10. This post made me so hungry! haha. Thanks for the great recommendations for food in the Jamsil area. I’ll make sure to check them out the next time I’m in Seoul. I live in a small city called Ulsan and I have been lucky to find some great places that my husband and I always go back to and know will have great food and good service! We have a place we call three pigs (with a picture of three ninja pigs on the front) and they have hands down the best pork barbeque I have ever had in Korea! If you’re ever in Ulsan let me know and I’ll help you get there!

    February 26, 2018
    • It’s so great when you find those places close to home that are quality and you can go back to again and again. I’ll let you know if we go to Ulsan (a def possibility since my cousin is moving there for work!)

      February 26, 2018
  11. Eric #

    Ooooo, I found this post right at the perfect time! Having dinner in Jamsil Saenae tomorrow with some friends and we weren’t sure where we should go. After dinner we are definitely stopping by Le Tatin to try some of those little pastries from the photos! Thanks for the recommendations!

    February 26, 2018
    • Perfect timing then! Def recommend the 오겹살 place if you’re in the mood for bbq…and FYI I think le Tatin closes at 8!

      February 26, 2018
  12. Why did I think it was a good idea to read this at 19h? I am so hungry! I know nothing about Jamsil, been there a couple times to visit a temple for 설날 and I am missing so much! I am very interested in get to know 화덕고깃간, I love samgyeopsal and you really got me curious. Another one I’m looking forward to visit is the Bon Bon Sandwich place. I am a big fan of sandwiches, baggets and crusty bread. You totally got me in the crusty recently baked breads. Gotta check it out! *o*

    February 26, 2018
    • 화덕고깃간 is amazing. Def worth a visit next time you’re near Jamsil area. Everyone I’ve taken there really loves it! Haha you Europeans and your bread. 😉 My hubby grew up in Italy, and that’s the thing that he first liked about Bon Bon – the bread!

      February 28, 2018
  13. Haha intestine bbq isn’t my fave at all. I had it in Daegu as apparently, the best makchang is from Daegu and while I’m not unfamiliar with eating cow intestines (Mexicans love a spicy soupy kinda stew made from these delicacies), I wasn’t down with how chewy the texture was. I prefer intestines either super crunchy/crispy or very soft but never chewy!

    February 26, 2018
    • You are braver than me! Intestine bbq will never cross my lips – just the thought makes me feel gross. My hubby is desperate to try it though – having grown up eating tripe in Italy – he just has to find a willing partner. He gets his fix, but always ordering the gopjang soondubu. I just say eww. 😉

      February 28, 2018
  14. All these places look amazing! Especially that chicken place, I’ll have to try it next time I’m up in Seoul! Thanks for the maps too 🙂

    April 21, 2018

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