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: 들플부빔 (비빔밥)

 

 

Both 들플 restaurants are run by the same family.  The mother runs the larger 한정식 (han jung shik) restaurant serving ddeokgalbi (of course) and the son runs the nearby bibimbap restaurant; the focus of this review.  They’re both located right across from the Gwangju Lake dam (map) and because they’re just a few kilometers from the house, were some of the first restaurants we visited.  Unfortunately our first visits to both were lackluster and because there are so many other restaurants around, we never really went back and simply forgot about them.

That is until about a month ago.  During at least three unrelated conversations with three very different people, the name of this place came up.  It’s not exactly an inconvenient location and our initial visit wasn’t necessarily bad, so we headed back to see what, if anything had changed.

Sure enough, the signage outside was new.  Possible renovation?  A good sign (no pun) nonetheless.

 

 

I remember our first visit being sort of uncomfortable because it was so empty and quiet inside.  Needless to say we were shocked when we walked into a full and absolutely bustling restaurant.  I had to go back the next day just before opening time to get the second (people-free) picture of the dining room.

 

The menu offers some classics (육회/멍개/불고기), a vegetarian option (산채), and at least one I’ve never even seen before (청국장공).  A pretty solid selection.

While you wait for your bibimbap, you’re served a small appetizer of cooked pork, onions and garlic to be eaten bossam style with a variety of leafy greens and a homemade 쌈장 sauce.  There is also a small spicy salad (think fresh lettuce kimche) and a side of acorn jelly.  Sounds simple, but it was damn tasty.

The bibimbap comes out just about when you’ve finished these snacks.  It arrives as a stacked combo; the heavy dolsot bowl/rice on the bottom and a large brass bowl filled with your bibimbap selection on top.  Another large brass plate with homemade kimches.  A+ for presentation for sure.

If you’re off the beaten path far enough to end up in a place like this, you probably already know to scoop your rice out of the dolsot bowl and into the brass bowl.  The kettle on the table is used to fill up your dolsot bowl and should be set aside while you eat.  This will make “rice porridge” and is typically what you eat last (it’ll be piping hot so you don’t have much of a choice).  Depending on which type of bibimbab you order you will either mix in gochujang or a soy based sauce.

At 9,000won I’d actually consider this place cheap considering both how much you get and the quality of what you get.  I’ve been back a couple of times in the last two weeks just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke (we were famished during our initial return visit) and I can assure you everything on the menu is delicious…choosing a favorite would be tough!!

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

TDH Updates: April 2015 – Artist Chung Park

 Photo by: Diaz

Seoul based artist Chung Park has left his mark on Jeollanam-Do, both literally and figuratively.  Having two exhibits under his belt at the new up-and-coming Salt Art Gallery located in Gwangju, he’s no stranger to the area.  We were happy to snag the “Beacon” piece at the first show and have it proudly on display in the entrance way of the house; it’s the first thing you see when you enter.

My increasing obsession with sotdae (솟대) is directly proportional to the amount of time I’ve spent in the countryside over the last couple of years.  They’re easy to write off as “ducks on a stick”, but like most things in Asian culture have a much deeper meaning and significance.  Disney, unfortunately, has done no favors for these sacred migratory birds in western culture.  In contrast, here’s an example of one of many quotes on the Wikipedia page for sotdae, “It was believed that ducks travel to the world beyond the Earth and act as a messenger between the physical world and the realm of the spirits.”  Damn. 

It’s no secret Chung is a friend of The Damyang House, so convincing him to bring his talents back down to Jeolla-Do once more for a mural at the house was an easy sell.  Finding time was another story.  Alas, the planets aligned and it all came together this past weekend.  Sotdae now guard both entrances of the house and add a splash of color to an otherwise empty outside wall space.  

It was an action packed weekend at the house and we’re happy to share all the gory details.  Special thanks to Jay Diaz for helping to both participate in, and document the madness.  

Day 1 – Chung gets started:

The wall
The sketch

 
 Not as easy at it looks. Photo by: Diaz

Chung working; Diaz documenting
 Photo by: Diaz

 
Photo by: Diaz

Johan (Salt Art Gallery) looks in.  Photo by: Diaz
 
 Photo by: Diaz

 Photo by: Diaz



 
 Photo by: Diaz
Day 2 – We went for a hike and left Chung to his work. 
Photo by: Diaz

Photo by: Diaz

Dinner!

The artist sleeps! Photo by: Diaz

Day 3 – Finished work.

Photo by: Diaz

Chung eats a well deserved kimche jiggae at 왕가녜.

Well deserved thank you’s to Chung Park for the mural, Jay Diaz for the photos and Riser for hosting…and the whole crew for putting up with me for the weekend. Boom!

Restaurant Review: 황가네 (Eco-Park Restaurant)

 


I’ve spent a lot of time at this restaurant over the years so it goes without saying I’m a bit biased and probably couldn’t give an objective review even if I wanted to.  However, judging by the reaction of family and friends I think I’m justified in giving this no-frills restaurant an enthusiastic two thumbs up.This place is well known amongst locals, mostly due to the cheap prices and pungent flavors (seriously the kimche at this place is beyond “fermented”!), but also has it’s fair share of signatures on the wall from visiting local/national celebrities.  Famous or not, this place is packed with customers during mealtimes, mostly ordering the star of the show:  the kimchee jiggae.  The kimchee jiggae (see photo above) is made with the aforementioned “funky” kimchee, but is also chocked full of pork and homemade green tea tofu.  Best 6,000 you’ll ever spend!


The green tea tofu can be ordered on it’s own (comes with dipping sauce) and will usually be served with the ban-chan before your main dish arrives.  It’s fresh.  It’s delicious.  Order some to-go on your way out!


Speaking of ban-chan, the six pictured above are usually what you get…the portions are certainly representative of Jeolla-Do (read: large) and refills often happen whether you ask or not.  The ban-chan (and food for that matter) is definitely on the salty side, but most good Korean food is.  The menu has a few different options, all of which you would expect to find in a place like this, but honestly I never venture far from the kimchee jiggae.  They are accommodating for vegetarians as well, but make sure you ask (everything except the tofu itself has meat and/or seafood in it).

Kimchee Jiggae, Ban-Chan and Green Tea Tofu

 

순두부 지께

Getting there from the house is easy.  Head towards the Eco-Park (take a right on the main road and a left at the gas station) and continuing walking past the park entrance (it should be on your right) for another few minutes.  The restaurant will be on your right and looks like this:

Stop by next time you’re in the area…you won’t regret it!
Looking for something else?  Plenty of other restaurant recommendations can be found here.