There are some Korean food treated contemptuously but suddenly beloved these days. A leatherfish is a typical example. At first, this fish was sold at half cost of squid and people often throw them away by reason of its taste. But since people like this food as time goes by, recently, some leatherfish are more expensive than squid. This is because leatherfish only can be caught at sea, not in fish farm.
Ganggu-Hang, Yeongdeok-gun, Gyeongbuk has a lot of snow crab. In winter, dozens of restaurants which sell snow crab open for business. Lately, light house in this area became drama location, so more people visit here. In Yeongdeok, there is a fish named Mi Ju Gu Ri, which means halibut in dialect. It is a very ugly fish like a moray, but actually it is one of Pleuronectidae. It is used in making sikhae (fermented fishes with grains) and this is very famous food in east coast area.
However, Ganggu Mijuguri Restaurant's sign says that a store specializing in Moolwhe & Makwhe. Both are derived from sashimi. Moolwhe is a sashimi food made of raw fish, water, ice, and vegetable with various sauce. Makwhe is slices of rather cheap raw fishes. The word 'Mak' means everything at random.
In lunch time, employees of Central Government Complex or the Korean presidential residence visit these restaurants. There are restaurants which sell samgyetang (chicken soup with ginseng), noodle, or haejangguk (hangover soup) and some of them were famous because former presidents visited. The common thing in restaurants nearby school, company, institution or public office is that they have charge account. This is hardly found in stores at station or tourist attraction. The owner of the restaurant well knows his customers just by looking at their faces. So this charge account is similar to credit booking to them.
They use homemade moray (Gom Chi in Korean) in moray soup. There is a widespread superstition that using fish whose name includes 'chi' is bad at memorial rites for the dead. People who live nearby the shore of an estuary often say that they used to let morays go because they didn't taste good, but I don't believe this. They were so hard-pressed for food at that time. Anyways even though this fish is very ugly and soft, these days it gains its popularity.
Side dishes are filleted fish, kimchi, dried laver, spinach seasoned with vinegar and other condiments, and salted and fermented squid. Tofu, white radish, mushroom makes the soup savory and spicy. 'Cool' is Korean's unique expression. We use the word 'cool' even though while we eat hot food. This means not cool in temperature but feeling much cooler or better.
The atmosphere in this restaurant is family feeling. Rice is served family style in a huge electric rice cooker, so you can eat as much as you want. The white fillet of moray with rice is very soft and also good for relieving a hangover. Some people like eating chewy in the past, but these days they want soft taste. Sungnyung, scorched-rice water, is also huge. They add water in this rice cooker and boil them to make sungnyung.
It was good time for me because I can experience various kinds of food and Korean taste nearby the area of Gwanghwamun and Sechon.
Location : (Ganggu Mijuguri Restaurant) Jeokseon-dong 21, Jongno-gu, Seoul. Tel : 082-2-733-7888
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