Juicy Tteokgalbi at Nunnamujip
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
There's more to Samcheong-dong than just fancy restaurants and cafes. Look hard enough and you'll find no-frills, hole-in-the-wall eateries that have had a loyal following for years.
Nunnamujip (roughly translated as Snow Tree House), located along the main road of Samcheong-dong, has been around since 1990 and is a place to go for good old-fashioned, hearty meals.
This basement restaurant is quite small but does not feel cramped at all. The walls are decorated with bamboo, adding to the homey atmosphere. The tiny kitchen is partly visible, but there's enough ventilation to prevent kitchen smells from bothering diners.
On the menu (posted on the wall) are kimchimaribap (iced kimchi soup with rice), kimchimariguksu (iced kimchi soup with noodles), tteokbokki (rice cakes and vegetables in spicy sauce) and tteokgalbi (grilled short rib meat patties).
The tteokgalbi (7,000 won for 1 person) was the highlight of the meal. The grilled meat was served sizzling hot, and mouth wateringly delicious. The meat patties were juicy and cooked very well. The flavor leaned towards sweet, but was not too cloying. ,
The tteokgalbi was served with a handful of lightly toasted rice cakes. Unlike most rice cakes, which are tough to chew, the toasted rice cakes were cut into small pieces, soft, and easy to chew.
For foreigners, the kimchimaribap is something that might take some getting used to. First, the dish itself does not look appetizing: rice dumped in a bowl of ice and kimchi soup. But if you try a sip of the kimchi soup, you'll find yourself surprised at the refreshing flavor.
At Nunnamujip, the kimchimaribap (4,500 won) has a light taste that doesn't overwhelm the palate. The kimchi soup is not at all spicy, with perhaps the sesame oil helping add flavor.
However, there weren't enough ice cubes in the soup, which depending on one's preference may be a good or bad thing. The rice also appeared overcooked.
On the other hand, the kimchimariguksu (4,500 won), which features noodles instead of rice, was much better. The noodles had the right texture and consistency, which complemented the mild flavor of the kimchi soup.
To find the restaurant, go along the main road of Samcheong-dong. Nunnamujip is around 50 meters away from Yongsusan. It is right next to the Oz Kitchen restaurant.