Everyone has that go-to spot that they frequent whenever they don’t feel like cooking or forgot to go the grocery store. Well here in Korea, that place for us is Kongbul (콩불). I would say we are there probably once a week. Kongbul is extremely affordable (we spend probably 15,000 to 20,000 won for both of us) and it’s very tasty in my opinion.
We were introduced to this restaurant last year when we went on a tour with a couple Korean university students in the Gangnam area. Kongbul is a combination of 2 words – kongnamul (콩나물) which is bean sprouts in Korean and bulgogi (불고기) which is thinly sliced meat in Korean. After we ate with them, we were excited to learn that there was a location near us in Myeongdong. Ever since we discovered the closer location, we have become frequent diners.
15, Myeongdong 6-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul South Korea (중구 명동6길 15, 명동서울)
(Myeongdong Station, use Exit #6. This will drop you at the main street of Myeongdong, keep walking down the main street until you see the 3 story Dunkin’ Donuts and make a left. It is the first set of doors on the left. Once you get down the base of the stairs you’ll see the restaurant)
If you don’t speak Korean, don’t worry, they have another menu that is in English, Chinese, and Japanese. We always get the Kongbul (which is just pork, bean sprouts, perilla leaf and tteokboki) but we see a lot of people getting the main dishes that have chicken or seafood and the sets look super tasty as well.
Keep in mind that the food here is spicy, so if you’re not big on heat, make sure you tell them to not make it spicy (an maeb gae hay ju say yo – 안맵게해주세요). We love it extra spicy and they always look at us doubtingly when we ask for that (nobody here thinks Scott can eat anything spicy!)
The servers will automatically bring you a few small banchan dishes, seaweed soup, and white rice.
The Kongbul comes uncooked in a large pan and is brought to the table to cook on the burner. If you’re worried about splatter, make sure you get yourself an apron.
Don’t fret if you don’t know how to cook, the servers will come to the table and make sure it’s done right. They’ll let you know when to dig in.
After we eat our main dish, we always order some fried rice (bok um bap – 복음밥). The fried rice here has rice, seaweed, kimchi, egg and it’s all stir fried in the same pan as your main dish, so you get some of that delicious sauce on it. We also like to let it cook in the pan a little extra, so the bottom of the rice gets a bit crispy.
The price, taste, and speediness that Kongbul provides makes it one of my top go-to spots. I’m going to miss this place a lot when we head back to the states, so my next project is to figure out how to make this at home! Mainly it’s the sauce they use that I need to figure out. If you have the chance, be sure to give Kongbul a try!