Restaurant Review: 지실리애 (Hand-Made Tea)

 

This former BBQ restaurant (숫불갈비), no more than a five minute walk from the house, was the kind of place that made you NOT want to visit.  I had walked/driven/cycled by it a million times over the last couple of years and could never really tell if it was a functioning restaurant and open for business or…something else.  It had that run down “given-up” look to it.
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Restaurant Review: Windmills of My Heart (내 마음 풍차) – Soba Noodles/Don Katsu


Don’t be fooled by the goofy name of this restaurant…it actually used to be a functioning mill and was used to grind the crops gown by local farmers.  They’ve kept a lot of the old machinery intact and it makes for a really unique atmosphere inside.  The additional antiques around the restaurant provide just enough eye candy to keep you busy while you wait for your food.  Nice views of the nearby river and excellent background music (60’s and 70’s Korean pop music) as well.

 

 

 

 

 


This place was empty for years so we were pretty excited when the owners finally decided to remodel the space and convert it to a momil restaurant and cafe.  I’m a HUGE fan of both momil and don katsu, the main two dishes here, so it was going to take a lot more than a quirky atmosphere to impress me.  Sure enough our first visit left me not only unsatisfied, but also annoyed that the server wouldn’t give our group more than one order of don katsu because they thought it was too much food.  It wasn’t.


To be fair, we went shortly after they opened and it’s very possible they were still sorting out their menu.  We decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and recently returned to see if things have improved over the last six months.  They definitely have.

The momil is handmade and the odang was a welcome addition.  The broth was a bit on the weak side, but it was otherwise a solid effort and something I’d be happy to eat on the regular.


The don katsu is also handmade and one of the best I’ve had around Damyang.  This is what I’ll return for!  The additional fried treats, salad and rice were all tasty as well.  Not as fancy as what you get at SoHo down the street, but still pretty damn impressive.

 


Two piping hot bowls of soup and a fried pork cutlet for 20,000won.  They even gave us free americanos in to-go cups as we left.  This is a perfect spot to grab lunch after visiting the Eco-Park, or just stop by for a latte and enjoy the warm caste-iron stove, unique atmosphere, and countryside views.


Not a fan of noodles?  Plenty more restaurant suggestions can be found here.

Restaurant Review: Soho Cafe

Soho Cafe has been situated on a prime piece of real estate alongside one of the bigger rivers feeding into Gwangju Lake for a loooong time.  It’s proximity to the Eco-Park and local tourist attractions, coupled with the scenic drive along road 887, have ensured it’s everlasting popularity.  With more development and options opening up around the area it was only a matter of time before this cafe changed hands and underwent a much needed renovation.  The new owners, a mother-daughter team (at least according to what I’ve learned on facebook), have done a good job of making this cafe look at bit more inviting during the darker hours of the night…it’s the brightest place in the neighborhood!

It’s exactly the kind of cafe you would imagine finding on any ‘date course’ around the peninsula, serving pizza, pasta and of course coffee, but the landscaping gives it a distinct advantage over the competitors.  Fountains all around, outside seating near the river and a tepee of all things, certainly add to the uniqueness.

 

Making pizza at the house is something we are well equipped to do (and do often) so personally I can’t justify paying 18,000won for a pie, but the pasta and homemade don katsu, although equally pricey, were pretty damn tasty.  Need some wine to compliment that fried pork cutlet?  They have plenty of options.

 

 


All said and done, it’s tasty food and drinks served in a beautiful atmosphere.  There are certainly cheaper options around, but the old adage “you get what you pay for” is more than applicable.  It’s also right down the street and only a five minute walk so stop in and enjoy a coffee near the river in their back garden during your next visit.

Looking for something else?  Plenty of other restaurant recommendations can be found here.