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: Vietnam Restaurant and Mart

Spring Rolls

Fried Spring Rolls

Pho Bo

Pho Bo

What this place lacks in decor and ambiance, it makes up for in authenticity and taste.  Don’t be fooled by the dilapidated exterior of the building and the exposed kitchen and appliances indoors.  They’re serving Vietnamese food miles beyond what you’ll find in Gwangju (those Vietnamese chain restaurants basically serve Korean food for twice the price).

 

 

Walking in, I was met by a small Vietnamese server and a handful of younger Vietnamese friends having lunch…always a good sign to see actual Vietnamese people in a Vietnamese restaurant.  Rumors of Bahn Mi sandwiches proved false (possibly sold out?)  (update: been back a couple of times and still no Bahn Mi sandwiches) so we opted for the litmus test of Vietnamese food:  Pho and Spring Rolls.

It wasn’t cheap at 24,000 for two people, but two bowls of soup and a plate of spring rolls was more than enough to fill us up and ultimately well worth the price.  Simply put, it was delicious. (The fresh spring rolls are better than the fried)

This place is also a mart selling Vietnamese snacks and ingredients.  The mart is in the back, where you will also find additional seating.  The best part is they sell fresh cilantro if you ask nicely…2,000 for a large handful.

The location is pretty easy to find as it’s close to the river, noodle street, and one of the most famous restaurants in town, SeungIl Shikdang (승일 식당).  Here’s the google map link.  Just in case, here’s the map from my phone:

If you have room for dessert, head down to the river and get in line with the rest of these suckers and buy some of the “famous” Damyang donuts 🙂

 

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.

TDH Updates: 10-8-14

Seasonal changes:

  • Winter is approaching and with it comes the need to heat the house.  The cast iron fireplace was originally bought for it’s aesthetic value, but after realizing what it costs to heat a stand-alone house with ondol things quickly changed.  That 200kg beast in the photo above, when used correctly, does a much better and more efficient job of heating the house anyhow.  Guest staying during the colder months will be given a quick tutorial and are encouraged to turn down the ondol and enjoy a proper fire.  Honestly, you’d be crazy not to!

  •  Enjoy a piping hot cup of coffee on us.  Have a couple.  Free coffee is now available!  I bought that gorgeous stainless steel french press as a Christmas gift for my brother, but quickly ordered myself one after seeing how nice it was.  A little taste of luxury first thing in the morning is never a bad thing.  

  • We harvested the last of our summer veg (peppers anyone?) and replaced the planter box with some leafy greens and scallions.  Definitely the healthiest garden I’ve ever had the pleasure of maintaining.  Feel free to grab a few handfuls to eat with your BBQ.