Many restaurants capture the eyes of trekkers from the starting point of the trail. Ranging from dak-baeksuk (whole chicken soup) and ori baeksuk (boiled duck with rice), to haemul-pajeon (seafood and green onion pancake) and dotori-muk (acorn jelly salad), oftentimes, these dishes are meant to boost your stamina after all the mountain trek. When hikers begin their journey, they pass restaurants with mouth-watering dishes, determined to come back to fill their empty stomach and recharge their energy afterward.
Number one on the list is probably dak-baeksuk, a well-known and widely loved health food enjoyed by many after hiking. This is a dish made from boiled chicken stuffed with ginseng, jujube (red dates), garlic, ginger, and other ingredients, together with glutinous rice. Dak-baeksuk is a national health food that beautifully combines many healthy ingredients without soy sauce, red pepper powder, or any other seasoning or sauces with a strong flavor.
Located right between Bukhansan Ui Station and Doseonsa Temple, Seounun Sanjang is a popular restaurant among Bukhansan Mountain hikers. The restaurant is right next to a beautiful valley, adding an extra element to the great taste.
Eomnamu dak-baeksuk is the main dish of this restaurant. After eating big chunks of chicken, rich chicken broth boiled with eomnamu (castor aralia), and finishing off the juk (porridge) left in the bowl, you'll feel your body regain its vitality to put a little pep in your step! If you order a set menu, you will be served with other complimentary dishes, including dotori-muk, which is a type of salad with sweet and sour dressing, and kimchi-jeon, (kimchi pancake) which will stimulate your appetite after a long hike.
It is essential to recharge your body with protein after prolonged exercise. Now, let’s check out the pork menu. There is a K-barbecue restaurant located nearby section 2 of the Bukhansan Dulle-gil. You will be amazed. The place is called Insujae and requires a 20-minute walk in the woods to get to the destination. Just like trekking, follow the signpost that reads "Insujae" in Korean (인수재), and you will see the restaurant that resembles an old cottage. Tables are all placed outside, with only a simple canopy over your head, so you will feel like that you are enjoying a barbecue right there in the woods!
The restaurant is famous for galmaegisal (skirt meat). You can choose between seasoned and unseasoned meat and chargrill your own galmaegisal in the small fire pot prepared by the owner. The meat here is thick, so it can be a bit tricky to cook. However, once you get a taste of the juicy chargrilled meat, you’ll know that it’s worth the hassle. Not only that, other side dishes like kkakdugi (cubed radish kimchi) and pa-kimchi (green onion kimchi) elevate the dining experience with its home-cooked flavors. There is another food you must eat at Insujae - cup noodles! Of course, cup noodles are not something specific to Insujae, and it can be a hassle to prepare, but, as they say, "When in Rome...!" This is how K-hikers best appreciate cup noodles, - in the mountains after a long hike.
Great taste is definitely a reason to visit this place, but the dining outdoors in wooded surroundings is a rare experience. The fact that you can enjoy barbecue on a charcoal grill, in a spot embraced by the nature around you, gives you more than enough reason to visit Insujae.
Some drinks are meant to be paired with food. A good pairing drink with food after hiking is makgeolli (rice wine). It's sweet and nutty, yet gives off a sparkling, fizzy sensation for the perfect refreshment to put an end to your day of trekking. Let's be on our way to a place where you can get a taste of K-hikers’ favorite makgeolli.
Located in the vicinity of Gyeongbokgung Station of subway line 3, Inwangsan Mountain boasts a great view of downtown Seoul and the N Seoul Tower, despite not being very high in elevation. Seochon Village and Sejong Village Food Street are also within walking distance, making it an ideal destination for foodies.
This is Chebudong Janchijib, located along the Sejong Village Food Street. It has been featured on television multiple times for its famous deulkkae kalguksu (noodle soup with perilla seed), janchi-guksu (banquet noodles) and haemul-pajeon. And you can bet that it's always crowded.
Makgeolli and jeon are known as a perfect pairing. At this restaurant, you can find a variety of jeon, including haemul-pajeon, a Korean favorite, kimchi-jeon, some mild yet tasty gamja-jeon (potato pancake), gul-jeon (oyster pancake), nokdu-jeon (mung bean pancake), buchu-jeon (leek pancake), and many more. There is also another a long list of makgeolli to choose from, so you'll want to take advantage of the variety!
Makgeolli and wonderfully paired foods are waiting for you to help put that spring back in your step! After it's all said and done, enjoying a K-food meal afterward is the perfect way to enjoy K-hiking to the fullest to ensure that you come away with a genuinely Korean experience.