American Dream. When people move to America to succeed, people use this word. Gold Rush was one of this phenomenon; to get gold, European, East American, even Chinese rushed in California. 

Same thing happened in Korea. Lot of Koreans went to the United States and some of them became rich. Like this, late in 1990s, there was Korean Dream, which indicated a phenomenon that South East Asian came to Korea for jobs.

In Ansan, Gyeonggi-do, where lots of foreigners live, there is Multicultural Food Alley. The alley is full of Indian, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan restaurants.












I visited Sweet House Restaurant. Thanks to interpreters, I could order curry chicken. The owner couldn't speak English or Korean. Curry chicken is 6000 won. 

10 minutes later, the owner served a plate of curry, a bowl of rice, spoons, and forks. You can't use left hand when you eat. Only use right hand. Put curry chicken on the rice and then eat.

The scent of curry was really good. Chicken was soft and well-seasoned.

Actually, Muri is the food made of fried rice, but instead of it, this restaurant used rice. 

Babul, the owner, said that he came here in Korea three months ago. So he can't speak Korean fluently. He is both chef and server. 

He smiled brightly when I asked his photo.

"Muslim House" and "Halal Food" was written on his business card.

It was really good meal because I could feel sincere and warm, which is very hard to find in food these days under this mass production system.

Location : (Sweet House) Danwon-gu Da Mun Hwa Gil first street 48-1 (Wongok-dong 793-2), Ansan-si, Gyeonggi-do. Tel : 82-31-481-9667

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경기도 안산시 단원구 원곡2동 | Sweet House
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The Office of foreigner in Anshan announced that there are about 15000 people in Wongok-dong, Anshan and they have 43 different nationalities. This is the most various nationalities in Korea.

The reason why so many foreigners live here is that there is Banwol Industrial Complex nearby. Anshan Multicultural Food Alley across Anshan Station is formed along multicultural alley, which is 300m long. You can walk into this alley by going through underpass.

There is a sign which says "From here, this is food alley".

Even though it was daytime on weekdays, there were lots of people.

There were many Asia communities like India, Nepal, and Bangladesh restaurants.

There are some people who tout for business on the street by saying, "You look great", "Do you have any problem?", or "What are you doing here?". Even though passerby knows that people soliciting are not bad, I think it is better for them to change their marketing strategy. Because foreigners might think that is illegal touting. 








Some people open a street stall in this alley and sell Chinese Sundae (stuffed derma) or Hodduk (Chinese stuffed pancakes).

As I said, there are lots of Southeast Asian restaurants like Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, and Pakistan.


Also, there were many Korean national police to prevent a minor skirmish.

This food alley has many foreigners as many as Itaewon does.

Most of them are Chinese, but there are also lots of Southeast Asian restaurants.

Therefore, this area is good for trying unusual food for Korean, and for foreigners, it is an attraction to feel their home food.

Location : Wongok-dong 795 Da Mun Hwa Gil 16, Danwon-gu, Ansan-si, Gyeonggi-do  

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경기도 안산시 단원구 초지동 | Anshan Damunhwa Gil
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Chinese food ingredients are very various; sea cucumber, bamboo shoot, shrimp , a shark's fin, a swallow´s nest , ear shell , sea jelly, a duck egg, and hog liver. In general, they use pork, lamb, and seafood.

Chinese food is influenced by its wide territory, polyethnic, long history, and fusion with other nations.

In Korea, Chinese food is also called Chung dynasty's food or Junghwa (Middle Kingdom's) food which has been developed in China town in Incheon or Busan.

Actually Jajangmyeon (black-bean-sauce noodles), Chinese Tangsuyuk (sweet-and-sour pork) , and Jjamppong (Chinese-style noodles with vegetables and seafood) are Korean food. Even though China has similar food, these are modified-Korean style food. 

When you get off the subway line number seven, Daelim Station, take exit 12. You can find lots of Chinese restaurants. Unlike Jajangmyeon in Incheon and Busan, food in here has original taste of China with coriander. 

From exit 12 to Daelim Market, this food alley is full of signs with chinese characters.

Among them, I visited Harbin Banjeom (Ban Jeom means a restaurant) because it was clean and had simple external appearance. 

Unlike the olden style Chinese restaurants which were dark, messy, or shabby, these days they are clean, bright, and have nice interior.

It is not a big store. Only 8 tables and each one has at most 6 chairs, which means less than 50 people can available. 

I ordered steamed clam. It included Manila clam with dried red pepper powder, chili, Welsh onion, and coriander. It was spicy and aromatic.

Clam was chewy and well mixed with sauce.

I also ordered spicy fried chicken wings. It had fried big chili and peanut, which made the food less oily. Chicken wing was really chewy and crispy. It's  flavor and texture went well with spice.

The last food was Chinese style cellophane noodle which was stir-fried with soy bean sauce, chives , and bean sprouts.  Vegetables made the food less greasy. Red pepper, which is usually very hot, was not that spicy.

Rice in this area is not sticky or elastic like Korea's rice. It's like Vietnam's rice, which doesn't have glutinousness.

You can choose the size of the food: Big or Small. Big one is around 15000 won and small one is  around 10000 won.

If you order single menu, it costs 7000 or 8000 won.

This restaurant is not only cheap and delicious but also has original taste of Chinese dishes. 

Location : Daelim 2-dong 1066-65, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul. Tel. 82-2-831-3776. 

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서울특별시 구로구 구로4동 | Harbin Banjeom
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Among feed, lodge, and clothe, food culture has especially long history and can be a standard to divide ethnic group, region, or nation.

Korean food culture include rice and fermented food like  soy sauce,  soybean paste, and  red pepper paste. Chunjang, which is a kind of fermented soybean product , is also one of the fermented food originated from China. The difference between Korean's chunjang and China's one is that the former include caramel.

Koreans usually steam or boil food ingredients. On the other hand, the Chinese fry the ingredients in oil. That's why they use various vegetables including bean sprouts and coriander to reduce the grease.

If you get off at Daerim Station (subway line number two) and take exit 4, you can find lots of restaurants run by Korean-Chinese. The most popular menu in this area is the food in Yanji City or Qingda.

Byeol Mi Won, located on second floor in Guro 14th Street, has four big tables in the hall and few more in the room. (Byeol Mi means "delicacy of the season" and Won means "a house")

They have various food and the menu includes each photograph of the food, which makes customers decide dishes easily.

I ordered Sizzling Rice Soup. It had lots of seafood like squid, clam, lotus root, and short arm octopus with sweet and thick sauce.

The other one is sweet and sour pork with eggplant and bell pepper. Thanks to eggplant, this is good for health and not that sweet unlike original sweet and sour pork. Pork was really soft and chewy.

However, it is still oily. This is why Chinese people like drinking kaoliang wine with their food. The owner as chef were chatting with customers about the food.

They offered complimentary food; steamed hog liver with soy bean sauce. Two dishes are enough for three people and each one is around 15000 won. 

Location : Guro jungangro 14th street 11-4, Guro-gu, Seoul. Tel. : 82-2-851-1001. 

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서울특별시 구로구 구로5동 | Byeol Mi Won
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Posted by 크레이빙코리아


Chinese restaurants are everywhere; in Africa, South America's Andes mountain, or even Alaska. One of the characteristics of the food in these stores is glovalization. Because it is hard to get local food ingredients and natives have their own tastes.

The typical food in Chinese restaurants is Chao noodles (fried noodles). It varies in different localities; in Korea, it includes various vegetables unlike the one in America. One thing in common is they all use MSG (monosodium glutamate) and soy bean sauce a lot.

Nearby Daelim station, there are many Chinese restaurants since korean chinese came to Korea to get a job in Guro industrial complex after Korea-China amity. Even though Guro industrial complex was moved to the other area, a lot of people still live in here by running restaurants.

In Guro jungangro 14th street nearby exit 4 or exit 12 at Daerim Station, the whole area is full of Chinese restaurants, Daelim market, exchange booth , travel agency , cellphone shop, real estate agency, and  recruitment ads on the billboard. 

It feels like you are in the middle of China.

There are also plenty of street food. Roasted squid with spicy sauce and dried red pepper powder is famous. The owner uses plastering tools modified into grilling the food.  

Also, deep-fry twisted bread stick is people's favorite. 

It costs 1000 won each but has double size compared to other bread sticks.

Because this is made from flour, when it gets cold, it becomes stiff. 

Chinese pancake, which includes steamed adzuki beans inside, is bigger and thicker than Korean pancake. As I said, have these food while it's warm.

The menu is written in Chinese character because, as I've mentioned, lots of Chinese live in this area. Unlike other Chinese restaurants, all stores are clean and simple. With various dishes, you can take a little trip to China at Daerim Station. 

Location : exit 4 or 12 at Daerim Station (transfer station for line number 2 and 7)

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서울특별시 영등포구 대림3동 | Daelim China Town
도움말 Daum 지도
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In Mediterranean countries, people like wrapping bread around meat. One of the Jewish people's favorite food is kebab, which means roasted meat with skewer. I ate Jewish kebab in LA the other day and it included rice, yellow sauce, tomato, and skewered meat.

From Noksapyeong Station nearby Itaewon, there is a Gyeong-lee-dan street. Take this street and walk for five minutes. You can find a Greece restaurant called El Grecos on your left. Greeks have glorious history and strong awareness of unity. They always notice public about their traditional festival and lots of events.

Gyros, the Greek food, looks like Mexican burrito. The difference is bread. In burrito, there is a thin flour pancake but in gyros, they use pita, which is chewy and thick. You can choose among chicken, lamb, or pork. 

I ordered lamb gyros and opened pita. White sauce, lamb, and lots of vegetables were inside. Aromatic lamb was little oily but with bread, it was good. Onion and tomato really went well with lamb. Fried potatoes were soft. 

There were six or seven tables inside restaurant. Many stores nearby Gyeong-lee-dan street have few tables; two or three inside and most standing tables. 

I worried about the smell of lamb but thanks to the pita and sauce, it was rather rich, simple, and chewy.

Greece and Turkey are neighbouring countries but have had bad relationship for a while. So it is ironic that Turkey's kebab is also used in Greek food. In Korea, we also have lots of food which developed during war time.

Andong Soju, famous traditional liquor, is from Mongol army. This distilled Soju originated from Middle East area and then became Whiskey when it spread to Europe later.

Budae jjigae (spicy sausage stew) is also made during the Korean War. 

Greece have experienced lots of war time. But ironically, they have many cultural heritages. In El Grecos, you can think of their history and food culture with Gyros.

Location :Itaewon-dong 273-11, Yongsan-gu, Seoul . Tel : 82-70-8263-8678 

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서울특별시 용산구 이태원2동 | El Grecos
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There are lots of fancy restaurants on Gyeongleedan street when you get off at Nok-sa-pyeong station in line number six. Most stores are small because this area's land price is expensive. When you pass main gate of Gyeong-lee-dan and go straight for 5 minutes, you can see “Don Charly” the restaurant.

There are only 3 tables, 6 chairs, and one chair outside; very small place. 

'Don' means graybeard in Spanish and "Charly" is one's name. 

Don Charly is very famous and good name in Spain like Michael in USA. 

The curtain in the hall was Mexican or Maya style.

Two Tacos are 7000 won and 9000 won for three.

There are coke, sprite, and tequila for shot. Tequila is traditional mexican liquor and known as cactus liquid.  Don Julio Anejo is 8000 won and Jose Cuervo is 4000 won for one shot.

Jose Cuervo is very famous liquor in Mexico like Soju in Korea. 

I ordered two Alambres and Jose Cuervo. They grilled the meat right away. The smell of roasting meat was really good and pervaded the restaurant. Usually people drink tequila with lime and salt.    

About five minutes later, they served Alambres. Meat, tomato, onion, and pimiento were inside the food. Tortillas was made from wheat, not corn. Even though I like corn tortillas, wheat one was good, too. Salsa sauce, meat, and warm tortillas had actual locality.

Yellowish tequila is very strong liquor because it is a kind of whiskey. However, if you try this with lime and salt, you can drink it smoothly.

Two tacos were enough for lunch because it had tortillas and abundant meat. You should notice that from 2:30 pm to 5:30, they close the store for preparing dinner business. Even though you avoid the break time and visit there on time, you have to wait for a while since it is really famous restaurant. Public transportation is better than personal car in case of traffic jam.

Locatioin : Itaewon-dong 225-10, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Tel. 82-70-8154-4475

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서울특별시 용산구 한남동 | Taqueria Don Charly
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Posted by 크레이빙코리아


Japanese food is very popular throughout the world among global food. 

While French food is made of unique ingredients as a luxurious diet, cooking materials in Japanese food are kind of folksy. 

Chinese food uses valuable ingredients, too; a swallow´s nest, bear’s paw, or a shark's fin.  

However, Japan also has special food. You can see a chef who tries to get good ingredients for his food, wandering everywhere, in Japanese cartoon.

But some ordinary Japanese food’s ingredients can be found easily; raw fish for sushi, noodles for Udong, or rice for a bowl of rice served with toppings. These are cheap and common materials but treated as a gourmet meal. Most people in Japanese restaurant in America are Korean. 

Also Vietnamese Pho noodles in western part of America can be famous thanks to Korean. There are many restaurants which sell Korean style Vietnamese noodles. This is because Korean are good at understanding food.

Authentic Japanese food is very simple. One day, I had an opportunity to have a meal in Japanese restaurant in Central America. But the side dish before serving main dish was only jujube-sized boiled spinach.

I ordered Udong and Seafood Soup. They are simple rather than fancy. I was waiting on line to eat Udong in Nagoya Airport, but except its special soup it was common food; no better than one in a cart bar.

Anyway, I ate Udong in Ma-Jjeu-Ya on 9th floor of Shinsegae Dept. Store in Yeongdeungpo. It was a fancy and Korean style restaurant rather than real Japanese style one. I ordered hot noodles with fried tofu and regular Udong meal because they were out of ingredients for Oyster Udong

As I said, Japanese food use really simple materials and delicious. Regular Udong meal has five sushi, noodle, fried food, pumpkin porridge, and pickled onion and ginger with radish. Chewy noodle and meat broth with dried bonito were really good. Fried tofu was salty and savory.

I once watched a TV program called GTV which showed lots of world food. They explained the process of making Tempura for an hour. I was really surprised because that food was being sold nearby my place. At that moment, I found that identity of Japanese food is very different from ours. Americans still can't understand why we Koreans eat squid. But after Nam June Paik, famous video artist, suggested squid to a host and guests on one famous TV program, they all said that it was really delicious.  

The service at Ma-Cheu-Ya was really good. Given that they have a cushion in a spare chair for baby, I think they know how to treat customers. You can enjoy quiet and neat atmosphere in Ma-Cheu-Ya.

Location: Shinsegae Dept. Store, Yeongdeungpo-dong 4-ga, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, Korea

Phone: 82-2-2639-4061  

[Grill] - Dak Galbi Sarang Memil Guksi in Nami Island

[Dish] - Ulkeuni Kodarijjim of Sigol Buttumak in Daegu

[Burger] - Lina’s Sandwich at Gwanghwamun

[Dish] - Pyeonyuk-Won Halmoni Someori Gukbab in Front of Suwon Station

[Stew] - ‘Wondang Gamjatang’ Near Seoul Station

[Grill] - ‘Sankkomjangeo Buljogaegui’ for Delicious Clam Platters

[Dish] - Namdaemun Halmae Wangjokbal, “Dieting, go away!”

[Stew] - Songgane Beoseot Kalguksu in Ilsan, Popular for Tender Shabu-shabu

[Stew] - The Best Choice for Lunch, Songtan Budae Jjigae & Cheolpangui in Front of Konkuk University

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서울특별시 영등포구 영등포동 | Ma-Cheu-Ya
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Posted by 크레이빙코리아


Usually, Mexican, Italian, and Thai food are called as the world’s three best foods. 

The idea seems to be too subjective, but I think it does not need to be judged by Internet balloting like when the Ten Wonders of the World were selected. 

Besides, there are many kinds of cuisine in the world like Chinese, French, Japanese, Arab cuisine. 

Among them, the hottest national dishes may be Thai food and Mexican food these days.

There may be one or two Thai restaurants in each region, and ‘Songkran’ near Hongik University attracted me by its special name. 

Songkran is the Thai festival of New Years Day, and it means ‘bringing peace and a good luck by spraying water on to each other. 

It may be similar to Jwibulnori – a Korean traditional game - during the first full moon of a year.

Anyway, it was not easy for us to find the restaurant. 

The address or the map shown on the Internet was almost entirely incorrect, and the restaurant’s sign was invisible on the main street. 

On the entrance of the restaurant (we found hard), there was a picture that expresses the restaurant. 

The restaurant’s structure looked like a narrow alley, so it made us find the restaurant hard. 

The sign ‘the distance to Thailand is 3,781Km’ looked interesting. 

Nevertheless, when we entered the restaurant, we found that the kitchen looked bigger than the dining place in which there are tables. 

Passing the kitchen, we found the inside looked like letter 'L'.

I thought the restaurant was superior in interior space utilization and the restaurant was cooler than the outside as well as looked cozier.

On one side of the wall, there were the pictures taken when the owner traveled Thailand. There were three tables of Korean style.

Soon, the menu was brought, and we hesitated to choose the food. Then, the owner recommended Phat Thai, Nasi Goreng, Rice Noodle Salad, and Spring Roll. 

Phat Thai is Thai fried noodles, Nasi Goreng is Indonesian fried rice; Rice Noodle Salad is the mixture of Rice Noodle and Salad. 

Additionally, the special thing was a plastic bag that was given instead of a cup when we ordered the beverages. 

It is similar to the way to put a straw in a plastic bag when Central Americans drink beverages.

In Central America, the empty bottle is expensive, especially for their income level, and they have to pay for the empty bottle when they want to bring it to home. 

Like that, we should pay only for the beverage, and return the bottle. At this time, the beverage, like Coke, should not be poured into a cup but into a plastic bag. 

Rice Noodle Salad was first served. 

From when we ordered, the owner looked worried and might think ‘it would not be to your taste...'

The colors of shrimps, vegetables, and white rice noodle harmonized with each other. 

I thought Thai salted fish might be used in the food. 

The food was plain, salty, and also spicy. It had a special flavor. 

The chewy squid and crispy bell pepper were harmonious.

The second dish was Phat Thai, the fried knife-cut noodle. 

Adding various vegetables, including bean sprouts, the noodles, such as knife-cut noodle, were fried with soy sauce. 

It reminded me of Chinese Chow Mein.

In addition, there was Spring Roll we can often see in Chinese restaurants. 

Fried Spring Roll with sweet red sauce is the food, which frequently appears in Asian restaurants. 

The last one was the fried rice named Nasi Goreng 

It is the fried rice, putting a fried egg, with cucumbers and tomatoes.

The special thing was that this restaurant served shrimp flavored chips with Nasi Goreng, but I think Thai snacks would be served with Nasi Goreng in Thailand. 

Their cuisine is not actual Thai-style as the owner said, but you can enjoy the calm and cozy interior as well as choose the dish that makes you feel Thailand. Then, you may have a good experience in seeing Thai food. 

Especially, the dish, like Rice Noodle Salad, was the dish that smelled of salted fish and exotic.  

Above all, one word that the owner said was enough to give a good image to the customers.

'We have regular customers. However, the regular customers do not frequently visit us (with a laugh).’

The owner as well as the cook opened this Thai restaurant because he had loved South-East Asia so much, especially Thailand. 

The restaurant shows the pictures taken by the owner himself as well as acts as a reception room that provides a variety of books. 

The problem is finding the way to the restaurant. 

When you lose your appetite and become lethargic by rainy season and hot weather, you can stimulate your appetite with help of simple Thai food. 

Its interior design is special and it is the cozy place that enables you to have a meal on Korean-style floor. 

Rice Noodle Salad can be customized as you order, like putting more vegetables, more noodles, or so. 

Address: 342-16 Seogyo-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul, Tel : +82-2-322-8472

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서울특별시 서대문구 연희동 | Songkran Thai Food
도움말 Daum 지도
Posted by 크레이빙코리아


Hongdae was, and still is, a college area that exploded with youth. University students nationwide created these cultural hubs encompassing their respective colleges to liven up their college social life, and Hongik University's surroundings really stood as one of the most iconic representations of what it meant to be a college student in Korea. Due to this exuberance of youth, the popularity of Hongdae was tremendous when I myself was young. It was considered a home to creativity, sophistication and uniqueness -- mostly due to the influence of the college it represented.

Visiting Hongdae now made me realize how much times have passed. The unique charm Hongdae once held has been overtaken by the insuperable force of commonplace trends and social influences encroaching much of the world. In relation to food, franchise restaurants have been set in place over foundations that once strongly held the pillars for exotic restaurants only found in that area.

Although I was disappointed, I can't blame them. Hosting franchise companies has too many advantages that are unignorable. Due to this, it is difficult to find a single place without the ever-present familiarity of any culturally infused logo or slogan. Eating at even the least popular and newest franchises brings back the unfortunate presupposition that I'm practically eating food created in the same as way as those manufactured under the golden arches.

Dining at a particular franchise in Hongdae, however, I've luckily been able to be break off this presupposition. With pictures of Italian food luring customers into the restaurant, Spannew is (yes, you guessed it) an Italian restaurant near the main entrance of Hongik University.

Spannew is a typical franchise restaurant that started outside of Hongdae and slowly began spreading towards more populated areas of Seoul. Spannew means "Very new" and "Unique" and it presumably seeks to provide a new and even adventurous nuance with their food without surrendering their unconditional Italian traditions and culture. As my wife and I walked up the stairs towards the second floor, it felt as if we were venturing into a restaurant in Italy as decorative forks and spoons welcomed us in from the entrance walls.

What does it look like?

How does the food taste?

What does it look like?

Two different atmospheres can be felt within this small restaurant due to the windows that are lined up on one of the walls. The tables that are not directly lavished with sunlight are instead lit with dimmed lights, which makes it perfect for lifting a glass of wine. The tables located near the windows, however, create a terrace-like atmosphere, where eating some garlic bread and spaghetti seems just right. The restaurant provides a space to be romantic and fancy as well as bright and lively, depending on where the seat is and of course, who comes along with you.

How does the food taste?

Spannew offers a variety of Italian dishes -- pastas and pizzas presumably being their main specialties. After settling in at a comfortable seat, my wife ordered her favorite "Carbonara" cream spaghetti along with a lemonade while I ordered a seafood tomato risotto with an orange ade.

After ordering, we received some bread blocks with a sauce that was a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Dipping the bread into the mix really had us anticipating the main dishes that we were patiently waiting for. After receiving our salad, we were finally greeted by our main entrees. The Seafood Tomato Risotto was very similar to the Spanish dish "paella" and it contained a selection of seafood mixed with some tangy tomato sauce. The Carbonara ... was a Carbonara. Unfortunately yet as we had expected, it was nothing too special, but it was nevertheless delicious. Personally, I feel like I liked my wife's dish more than mine, but obviously that differs from person to person -- or should I say, from tongue to tongue?

The food was good but it was nothing exemplary to be frank. The atmosphere of the restaurant, however, really stood out to me as a noteworthy aspect of this restaurant. The salad alongside the bread blocks served up with the unique mixture were also memorable during our little date in this Italian restaurant. If you're on a date (like us) or if you're in need of a comfortable option to just talk for hours that you do not want to know are passing with anyone you're comfortable with, this restaurant offers you the best of both worlds.

Address: Mapo-gu Seogyo-dong 346-52, Seoul (Hongdae)

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서울특별시 마포구 서교동 | Italian Restaurant Spannew
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Posted by 크레이빙코리아


Mexican cuisine has become increasingly popular in Korea as of recently with the expansion of Taco Bell across the peninsula. Knowing that this is a newer "trend" in Korea, smaller taquerias have been opening everywhere, showcasing what they can offer when compared to the Mexican franchise giant. Just like handmade burgers are obviously better than their franchise counterparts, so far I've realized that these smaller Mexican restaurants really do offer much better quality and taste than Taco Bell, although they consequently do cost more. There are numerous famous taquerias across the city of Seoul, but today we head to a place in Itaewon that may not be as famous as the multi-floor Taco Bell across the street or the highly-popularized Vatos Urban Tacos a couple blocks away. 

Hacienda, which consider themselves a taqueria and cantina (a Spanish bar), may not be located in the bustling Hamilton Hotel-side of the Itaewon main street, but it does offer quality Mexican food with what seems to be a blatant emphasis to avocados and fresh guacamole.

To start, Hacienda is quite small so for us initially it was barely noticeable. It's very passable so make sure to keep your eyes out when you're searching for this place. The exterior view is also completely black, which doesn't help much in standing out. I nevertheless liked the simplicity and Gothic-look of the taqueria, which somehow almost made it look fancy and even luxurious. Seeing that the food in itself isn't the fanciest nor most luxurious, it might not be the best portrayal of what's inside but since it also is a bar, it might look appealing to others at first sight.

Next to the door outside the restaurant, the menu is displayed for hungry food-sight-seers to see what the restaurant offers. From the menu you can see what this place is all about: avocados and margarita. You'll even see it from the decorations inside the restaurant that the avocado is possibly their most prized asset here. Nevertheless, from the get-go, the prices aren't too bad but they're aren't too cheap either and there's quite a variety to choose from.

Now, it's time to see how it looks inside. 

First thing's first -- it's really as tiny as it looks from the outside. There are only about 7 to 8 tables available for customers to sit so it doesn't fit too many people. We sat on the tall seats closest to the door simply because it was hot outside and we felt the air conditioner hitting that area the most. Although it wasn't too comfortable, it wasn't noticeably uncomfortable either. The shorter chairs closer to the counter are probably better if you want to relax.

Also, as you can see, it isn't entirely the bar that you were probably envisioning when I defined the word "cantina." First of all, there's no bar with a bartender where customers are sitting on high chairs drinking their drinks. I couldn't seem to find any conspicuous displays of the drinks they offered either albeit presumably being able to serve numerous drinks according to their menu. Instead, there was a pile of avocados at the front, which again seems to be showing how much they value the fruit here. 

It really just felt like a restaurant more than a bar, but it might have been because we had visited in the afternoon. The restaurant did have a very bar-like feel, however, with dimmed lights lighting up the otherwise quite dark restaurant. The music that was played at the restaurant seemed to be of Latin American influence but it wasn't anything traditional like I had honestly preferred to get that Latin American feel. It was fast-paced music without lyrics so it was difficult to distinguish what kind of music it was exactly. Nevertheless, for me, the music's presence felt unnecessary but that can obviously differ from person to person. 

Overall, the interior design was not too simple but also not too complex. With a few neat decorations hanging on the walls, it wasn't distracting but it was nothing breathtaking or worth noting.

We ordered fresh guacamole with chips, two tacos and a burrito with avocado to see why there were avocados everywhere inside this taqueria. After a few minutes, the food started coming out in the order that I aforementioned, with the chips making their way unto our table first.

The Traditional Fresh Guacamole & Chips is as named: a pile of chips accompanied with some guacamole scoop-able with a wooden spoon.

The guacamole was a combination of avocado on the bottom with some pico de gallo on top which really gave it a ton of flavor when dipped with a salty and crunchy chip. For those who are unfamiliar with pico de gallo, it is an uncooked mixture of tomatoes, onions and cilantro which is often used as dip for nachos or as a condiment for virtually anything -- personally, it was most memorably placed atop bacon-wrapped hot-dogs sold in food trucks in downtown Los Angeles. The tangy taste of the pico de gallo mixed with the creamy avocado was an addicting combination that had me scraping the bowl when it was unfortunately running low. 

While we were enjoying our chips, our next meal showed up -- the tacos.

The Hot Grilled Beef Tacos were basically beef tacos with some pico de gallo placed on top of the grilled meat. Being constantly exposed to the common hard shells, these soft tortillas definitely had me reminiscing on the true taco, which is simply a small-size tortilla with chopped and cooked meat placed on top of it. A dab of spicy sauce was poured on the meat to give it that spicy kick. To be frank it was nothing too special, but it was, like aforementioned, a relief from the Americanized tacos that most are familiar with.

Last but not least, the burrito arrived. At this point, our stomachs weren't too filled but we weren't feeling hungry either. The chips and tacos don't seem much for two people, but it somehow managed to get us out of our hungry-zone.

The Chicken Burrito with Avocado was quite a hefty burrito with avocado slices layered on top of it and served with some salad and sour cream. Visually, it was very unique how the raw avocado was placed on the burrito like shown in the pictures above, but as soon as we cut open the burrito, we realized that the outside wasn't its only unique aspect. 

The ingredients inside the burrito consisted of cheese, chicken and POTATO, which was presumably used as a substitute for the original and most common rice and beans. Although at first I felt an eerie mixture of wonder and slight disappointment (I had wanted some rice and beans and was quite eagerly expecting it), as I tried this burrito I realized that the potatoes were actually a more tasteful replacement to the rice. The smooth texture and taste of the potato supplemented the chicken and cheese well, and since the chicken and potato weren't separated like some burritos are where one bite gets you the rice while another gets you the meat, every bite was constantly delicious. There were more potatoes than chicken pieces, but you could definitely taste the chicken in every bite of the burrito, which was all I personally needed.

It was undoubtedly odd having potatoes in my burrito, but it was a pleasant surprise that ultimately had my father and me filled up. What had seemed like a small amount of food was actually quite filling and undeniably satisfying. Although it's not easy to say that all of their food is authentic Mexican cuisine, it's definitely influenced by Mexican tastes and flavors.

The menu is quite diverse with different types of foods and drinks. As Hacienda is both a taqueria and cantina equally, the menu is also equally separated into the food choices and drink choices. 

According to the waitress that served us, this place's specialty drink is the margarita among all the different alcoholic drinks they offer. Margaritas are Mexican cocktails, and seeing how the restaurant is designed, it seems best fit for drinking cocktails or wine more than beer, but that's just my personal opinion.

In the end, we spent a total of 26,000 won and it fed two hungry people with traditional Mexican food. Although it's definitely not cheap, it's not all that expensive either.

Like aforementioned in the introduction, Hacienda isn't located in the Hamilton Hotel-side of the Itaewon main road, where most of the restaurants seem to be located. Rather, you can find this place by going across the Hamilton Hotel, which despite being less populated, definitely still offers quality food. It's not very difficult to find Hacienda, but it is small so you need to keep your eyes open for it.

Location : Seoul Yongsan Itaewon-dong 128-6(Bokwangro 59 Gil 10)

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