Winter has arrived and the days start to grow shorter. Somehow I find myself feeling carnivorous especially when the days turn ruthlessly cold in Seoul. (Minus degree temperature every day, no kidding!) There is one place I would usually think of in times like this. Let me give you a scenario here: It is a -4-celsius degree, extremely cold day out there and you are safe and sound in a nicely warmed house, indulging in a humongous, slow-grilled, tender and juicy, fall-off-the-bone beef ribs…. And regarding the size of the ribs that you’re feasting? Check out Park Soo-jin below.
So how does my plan sound?
The restaurant that I am writing about today is located in a random back alley of Samcheongdong, a well-polished neighbourhood where traditional and modern met. Since it is buried in the small alleys off the main drag, it takes a little effort to reach, more even so if you don’t read, speak or understand the Korean Language. But I am sure if you can find your way to the restaurant, you’ll agree with me it is all worth the trouble. (Please check the end of the post for directions).
Entering the rustic Korean style main door, a cosy courtyard beckoning. I’ve heard too much about this place from my Korean friends and looking at the booked up restaurant at 630pm you know how popular they actually are. To avoid waiting, please be early or at least make a reservation.
The Interior of the hanok is adorned with Korean paintings and traditional Korean windows for a classic touch.
Regarding to their menu, other than the usual Korean dishes like dumplings soup and ordinary hansik (Korean dishes), this restaurant is famed for 3 dishes: Roasted Garlic with boiled pig trotters (마늘 로스팅 보쌈), Old Stone Age Beef Galbi (구석기 갈비) and Baby Squid (땡땡 쭈꾸미). Price varies depending on the serving size. It cost us KRW38,000 for medium-size beef ribs, usually fit for 2-3 person. Upsize will cost you KRW 48,000.
I am sure foodies in Korea are well aware of the popular food hunt programme “Tasty Road” by Olive TV, done by the Producers BC oppa and SJ oppa, and Director JK oppa that I met through another programme collaboration years back. I really love the show as they do have a couple of fairly good finds (usually hidden restaurants). Sexy Singer Uhm Jung-hwa and Actor Jang Dong-gun also visited this place back in spring 2014 (this year)!!
We didn’t wait too long for the food. Sides were served pretty fast, followed by the main dish:
The radish water kimchi (Mul-Kimchi) was a very satisfying dish with a cooling, slightly sour taste.
And then the main dish: Stone Age Beef Ribs. The stories behind the name?
The owner at Bugmaggol revealed that he was inspired by comic books about the old stone age where protagonists eat huge beef ribs without cutting them into smaller chunks. Holding the ribs in one hand and a makgeolli (Korean Traditional Rice Wine) bowl in another and eating like a
stone age man boss, is an experience the Bugmaggol wants to provide.
Nicely coated in the sweet and peppery garlic sauce, these tender, juicy ribs are looking great in the spectacular visual presentation by the chef.
According to the owner, these huge ribs are from the “second cut” (or some might call it “blade end” cut) from a cow’s rib section. The restaurant only takes ribs from sections no. 6 through 8 to make this particular dish. Section 6-8 are ribs from the cow’s shoulder. They are known to have larger chunks of fat that make the meat really delish if the ribs are prepared properly.
We ordered a medium-sized galbi. That comes 3 pieces of ribs. It might look mini from the pictures. But it is actually very meaty and heavy. Although the ribs were cooked to a tender soft texture, it still took us some time to cut the beef into chunks simply because the portion is just CRAZY huge. *Cough* Now I need a shoulder massage before tucking in.
Here is another picture from their official Facebook page to show u how big the ribs are. These tender, juicy, succulent meat actually requires very little effort to pry from the bone. Certainly my type of ribs; D
The dish also comes with stew assorted vegetables. The chopped bell peppers, onion, zucchini and bokchoy add a sweet note to the dish. Yummmm….
One last picture to show the size of the ribs. Very clean bones explain the tenderness of the meat.
mmmm… I am definitely going back for more.
It is also good to pair up the ribs with the sweet and milky makgeolli (Traditional rice wine). We opted for the “country-style” makgeolli, which turned out to be surprisingly great. A good match with the ribs — what you’ll definitely need to wash down the greasiness from the fats.
On a side note, they serve excellent house kimchi. The typical sweet and spicy type that I adore most. We refilled it so many times that I lost my count.LOL.
My Verdict: Hands down. One of the best galbi available in Seoul. The chef totally nailed it. Though it was quite expensive (38,000 for one dish fit for 2), considering the taste, the portion and the “stone age” experience in a fancy Korean Traditional House, I think it is well worth the money. Excellent for friends gathering or entertaining important guests who visit Seoul. They have private dining rooms as well.
30-2 Samcheong-dong, Jungno-gu.
중로구 삼청동 30-2
1. Getting out from Anguk Station Line No. 3 Exit No. 1. Take the route on your right-hand side. (Facing the street and the exit at your back).
2. Go straight for about 10 minutes, you will pass by Olive Young drug store. Before you reach an alley, you will see Baek Sang Photography Studio. It is hard to miss it as there are huge family portraits and newborn baby portraits hanging at the windows of the studio. Continue walking straight.
3. By now you will find yourself walking on a path with a whole stretch of the stone wall at your right-hand side. Walk further down until you reach the MAIN road, then turn right into the main road.
4. Go straight. Locate Bob-ryun Temble (법련사) and Gallery Hyundai (갤러리현대), a building that looks like below:
There’ll be a bus stop in front of the Gallery Hyundai. Wait for Maeul Bus no. Jongno 11 “종로 11” (minibus in green).
5. Alight the bus 4 stops later, at the Korea Institute of Finance Station (금융연수원 정류장 [Read: geum-yong-yon-su-won])
6. Continue to walk down the street with the Institute of Finance at your right-hand side, for another 100m.
7. You would see Bugmaggol’s signboard by now, just before Homestead Coffee.
8. Turn to your right into the alley beside Homestead Coffee. You’ll find yourself in a secluded area where you’ll see the only Korean Traditional housing: that’s Bugmaggol.
9. Get into their courtyard and check for the availability of the seats. The restaurant gets really crowded at the weekend, especially at dinner time.