Chef Judy Joo and author Matt Rodbard have both released Korean cuisine cookbooks. Here they share their guides for their favorite restaurants in Seoul.
Chef Judy Joo's Guide
Chef Judy Joo opened her first restaurant Jinjuu in London in 2014 and her second a year later in Hong Kong. The menu is traditional and contemporary fare inspired by her Korean-American heritage. She is also the author of the cookbook Korean Food Made Simple and the host of Cooking Channel show with the same name. Chef Joo is one of four champions of the UK version of Iron Chef.
"Bicena captures Korea's beauty in its decor and offering. Traditional, yet upscale dishes presented in a gorgeous fashion never disappoint especially when washed down with a premium soju cocktail. The menu changes seasonally, so you're in for a tasteful surprise every time you come here. I love it for its seasonal ingredients. It is perfect for a quiet, civilized, yet casual delectable Korean meal. My special memory: eating a 10 course meal featuring the coveted fragrant pine mushroom."
2F, 267, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 04348
T: +82.2.749.6795 | www.bicena.com
"Vatos is one of my most go to destinations in Seoul. Founded by fellow Korean Americans -- the atmosphere successfully carries a bi-cultural feel and the cuisine nails the Korean-Mexican concept spot on. Go hungry and thirsty and indulge in kimchi fries, tacos, and to-die-for margaritas.
I love it for taking the best of two great cuisines and making a love child. It is a perfect hangover cure. My special memory: noshing on their famous 'Sid Burger' with founder Sid Kim."
14, Apgujeong-ro 12-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul | T: +82.2.548.8226
1, Itaewon-ro 15-gil (2nd Floor), Yongsan-gu-, Seoul | T: +82.2.797.8226
343 Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul | T: +82.2.3449.4114
Il-Poom Sang Gogi
"Down and dirty, but the best place for Korean hanwoo beef BBQ. They have the highest quality of hanwoo beef with rich flavor and marbling.
This is a perfect place to indulge in classic Korean BBQ. My Special memory: eating and drinking way too much here at some ridiculously late hour with my Exec Chef Andy Hales."
Seongdong-gu, Oksu-dong 384
Matt Rodbard's Guide
Matt Rodbard is the co-author of the cookbook Koreatown: A Cookbook. He and chef Deuki Hong, the former executive chef of the smash-hit Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong in Manhattan’s Koreatown. Matt is a journalist writing about about restaurants, chefs, drinks, music, cooking and travel.
"Mingoo Kang worked in the United States and served as Executive Chef at Nobu in the Bahamas before heading back to Seoul to open Mingles. His cooking, presented through lunch and dinner tasting menus, bridge east and west with dishes like lamb brushed with doenjang and aged, before being coated in vegetable ash and chargrilled. I love how Kang takes the time to make his own jangs (fundamental Korean pastes used in many dishes), which he has stashed in the restaurant's walk-in. Ask for a taste and he will gladly oblige."
94-9 Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
"Jinmo Jang is a rising star in Korea -- charismatic, handsome, a chef with mad skills. At A&ND Dining he switches out its menu every few months with new 'episodes'. The cooking is European-based with Korean touches. I love his style and creativity, which has made this restaurant one of the toughest reservations in all of Korea."
684-53, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
T: +82.2.790.5023 | www.anddining.com
Jagalchi Fish Market
"Busan, Korea's second largest city, has the country's most diverse and exciting fish market. Unlike most fish markets around the world, where fish is delivered non-living -- frozen or in an ice slush -- Korean markets sell the fish still living. These are not farmed fish, but fish captured at sea and kept living in tanks -- an example of how Koreans pride themselves on exceptionally fresh seafood. At the market, there is a network of restaurants located on the second floor. The concept at each is pretty much the same: buy some mackerel or crabs downstairs, have it cooked upstairs. This could lead to a spicy bowl of jjamppong (noodle soup with shellfish), fresh haemul pajeon (a scallion and squid pancake) and a spicy fish head soup called maeuntang, cooked in bubbling bowls table side. The banchan is seafood-heavy, with fried fish and seasoned anchovies. Every time I am in Korea, I make sure to head to Busan -- with one of the first stops at Jagalchi."
52 Jagalchihaean-ro, Jung-gu, Busan
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