This Humble Fish Soup is one of Hannam's Best Meals
Every month we pick a neighborhood and talk about one of the best food spots there each Monday. This month, we’re looking at Matjibs in Hannamdong. While it’s best known as the quietly trendy area next to Itaewon, among the cafes and craft beer bars are a few incredible food spots with a ton of integrity.
Other than hwe [회], maybe, Korean seafood rarely makes it to the forefront of trendy foods. Traditional Korean fish dishes are the kind that people who really fuck with fish should really like, but those who aren’t diehard seafood fans…may have trouble getting behind. Often, these specialties are a little intense, very fishy, and maybe even an acquired taste. Today’s matjib is a real, legit Korean seafood joint, but I truly believe that people who only moderately like seafood could get down with it.
Hannam Bugot Guk [한남북엇국] serves, well, bugot guk [북엇국], which is dried Pollack soup. Of the Korean ahjussi fish dishes, this is level one. This is the way to ease in, because it’s not a particularly strong or unfamiliar flavor. Dried Pollack is basically cooked in a light seafood broth with some tofu, scallions, chives, and mu. This soup is the perfect, cold weather, rainy/snowy day meal. It’s comfort food, but it’s incredibly lite, clean, flavorful, and just makes you feel great. And Hanam Bugot Guk makes it amazingly.
In appropriately traditional fashion, kimchi and kkagtugi are given to you in jars to take from, and are fucking dank. These, along with the couple other spicy, fresh banchan you’re given, play off the liteness of the soup with garlicky and peppery pangs of flavor.
In addition to the dish that is their namesake, HBG has an extensive menu made up of handwritten cards taped up all over the restaurant. A lot of these are hwe options, which I’ve never had. But, if you’re trying to go full Korean seafood, they have a dope lunch option which is half a mackerel [고등어] cooked with extra ripe kimchi [묵은지] for 8g’s. It’s ridiculously good. Pair this with 6,000won bugot guk, and you’re feasting.
Finally, this spot if also known for their jeon, of which they have a shit ton of varieties. The one they may be most famous for, if you have room for it, is their yook jeon [육전], or meat pancake – thin slices of hanoo beef [한우] are surrounded by an eggy batter and chives, served with the standard jeon dipping sauce. Definitely recommended.
There’s basically nothing more Korean than a lunch, or dinner, consisting of a lite soup, some fresh banchan, some quality rice to incorporate everything, and maybe some jeon or fish on the side. In rapidly gentrifying Hannamdong, Hannam Bugot Guk is the best spot to dine like this.
If you’ve checked out HBG, let us know what you think. For another Hannam-dong matjib, peep last week’s piece on this crazy ass grilled chicken spot.
Photo credits: @naniwa_ladygaga, @aaaiko420, @the_eatingmonster