This restaurant has become quite popular after receiving a “Bib Gourmand” from Michelin. The Bib Gourmand designation is given to restaurants who provide quality food at an affordable price and their plaque hangs proudly on their wall. The restaurant solely sells dumpling and in a city that doesn’t really do Chinese food (sorry…but Korean Chinese food is not real Chinese food), this places actually makes me happy when I eat it. This small restaurant is run by a husband and wife team. The husband manages the front end and the wife (who is actually Chinese) is in charge of making the tasty little packets of deliciousness.
Goobok Mandu (구복만두)
Address: 10, Duteopbawi-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 용산구 두텁바위로 10)
Hours: 10 AM to 10 PM (Closed the 2nd and 4th Monday, Lunar New Year and Chuseok)
Directions: Take the subway to Sookmyung University Station. Use Exit 3 and then go straight down the street (away from the main intersection) and you will pass a Paris Baguette and a Post office. The restaurant will be on your right (next to a bus stop).
We happened upon this place because is it close to where we live and work. The restaurant gets quite packed at lunch and you may need to wait in line, so if you don’t get there early, you might not get to eat. If you’re in a rush or just don’t feel like waiting, the restaurant does do take out, but I doubt the xiao long bao (soup dumplings) would be good like that.
The restaurant only offers 4 types of dumplings:
Pan fried pork and vegetable dumplings (₩5,000) & Pan fried kimchi dumplings (₩5,000). The pork and vegetable dumplings are always on our order list. The filling is well seasoned and the dough is fluffy with the bottom being nicely pan fried. The kimchi dumplings are pretty tasty as well, they do not have an overbearing kimchi flavor, but I prefer the natural taste of the pork and vegetable.
The Steamed Shrimp dumplings (₩7,000) were our least favorites. The dumpling wrapper is much thinner than the pan fried dumplings and the filling is loosely packed. The flavor is a little different than the pork and vegetable, I guess fishier?
and finally they have Xiao Long Bao (₩7,000) which are soup dumplings. If you’ve never had these types of dumplings before they are named as such because inside each little dumpling is meat filling and some delicious soup broth. If you’re not careful when you bite in, you might burn yourself. So definitely proceed with caution. The flavor and consistency of the dumplings are really good. The only “weird” thing is that each dumpling is cooked inside a metal cup. The metal cup is used to keep the dumpling from bursting and all the soup leaking out through the bamboo steamer. The problem with the metal cups is that the dumplings stick and sometimes the dumpling is soggy from soaking in the juice. Let’s just say their expertise is not as good as let’s say, Din Tai Fung.
Overall the dumplings are tasty and I love that each dish is made to order. They even tell you right after you order to expect your food in about 20 minutes.
I am not sure that I would trek from afar to try these dumplings, though they are tasty. However, if you’re in the area, I definitely would give them a try and then wash it all down with some ice cream from Sticky Ricky’s!