There is something Koreans often say in winter. “Let’s go have a bowl of hot soup(Gukbap, in Korean)!” Gukbap is a general noun that means a bowl of hot soup served in a strong black bowl called Ttukbaegi in Korean. There are 2 ways of eating Gukbap; Eating rice and soup separately(one bite of rice, one sip of soup), and put the rice into the soup and have a bite of rice and soup altogether. Gukbap which boasts a perfect combination with Soju which is known for the most beloved liquor of Korean people is, without doubt, the most popular food in winter. Among many kinds of Gukbap, Seolleongtang which has white soup is popular among foreign tourists for its soft and quite easy taste. Having a sip of white soup of Seolleongtang with delicious Kimchi will make you forget all your worries. (Personally, I think it’s not the right thing to do to eat Seolleongtang without Soju LOL). For someone who has no idea what Seolleongtang is, I’ll attach the definition of Seolleongtang by Wikipedia.
Seolleongtang is a Korean broth Tang (soup) made from ox bones (mostly leg bones), brisket and other cuts. Seasoning is generally done at the table according to personal taste by adding salt, ground black pepper, red pepper, minced garlic, or chopped spring onions. It is a local dish of Seoul. Seolleongtang is typically simmered over a low flame over a period of several hours to an entire day, to allow the flavor to be gradually extracted from the bones. It has a milky off-white, cloudy appearance and is normally eaten together with rice and several side dishes; the rice is sometimes added directly to the soup.
88, Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
This Michelin Bib Gourmand Seoul 2019/Seoul Future Heritage restaurant named Imun Seolnongtang(Seolleongtang) is known for its long history. Imun Seolnongtang first opened in 1904 and is the oldest recorded restaurant in South Korea. Venture your way through a narrow alley in Jongno to find this iconic hotspot. Despite its relocation, the restaurant echoes the traditional environment and aura of the original, sticking to its honest-to-goodness recipe and thus continuing to serve each customer with a bowl of milky perfection for over 100 years. The rice is already added to the Seolleongtang with the spoon readily placed in the bowl, which is exactly how they served it traditionally. Since merchants would be in a rush to eat their lunch in old times, the rice and spoon were already added for expediency.
The restaurant does not add any artificial flavoring, so don’t worry if you feel that the Seolleongtang is a bit too bland for your liking – just add some salt and enjoy it with Kimchi you’re good to go! If you have ever tried Pyeongyang Naengmyeon(North Korea-style cold noodle), you might find this Imun Seolleongtang quite similar to that taste. This simple yet soft sip of Seolleongtang has been bringing flocks of locals and travellers over the generations.
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You might be able to make a guess by seeing the color or the style of the newspaper, this restaurant was already introduced in the newspaper back then. This shows how deep and long the history of Imun Seolleongtang.
The menu, written in neat Korean, boasts traditional vibes and shows the history (the price has gone up, so it’s a bit more expensive than the price in the picture). The basic Seolleongtang is 10,000 won. You might think it’s a bit pricey for one bowl of Gukbap, but normally, Seolleongtang is a quite pricey kind of Gukbap. But it’s certainly fascinating that you can enjoy the best menu for 10,000 won in a restaurant with more than 100 years of history.
I’m attaching the review of this restaurant(quoted from Mango Plate). Please enjoy the local vibe like her at this old restaurant where you can feel the history 🙂 “One big goal for me when visiting Seoul was to eat like a local and when I visited Imun Seolnongtang that’s exactly what I did. We chose this restaurant so we could have a hearty and filling breakfast. And I’m glad we did because it was so hearty and filling and very delicious. I would definitely visit again!”