I love Korean food, especially traditional style meals. One of my favourite parts of eating a good traditional Korean meal is all the banchan (반찬). Banchan refers to all the delicious side dishes that are typically served along with rice, soup and the main dish. Most of the side dishes consist of vegetables but they can also contain seafood, noodles and sometimes meat. Unfortunately, while banchan is super tasty, it is rarely the star of the show. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride I suppose.
Located off the main street in Itaewon, lies what looks like a small out of place hanok (한옥) style restaurant called Sigol Bapsang. The interior, like the exterior, is cozy and traditional like the inside of someone’s home. Adding to the warm inviting ambiance, the space is filled with an interesting assortment of old Korean knickknacks and antiques. Although the the inside is a bit snug, there is still both floor and table seating. I personally prefer the floor seating because it’s a bit more spacious and it really adds to the traditional dining experience.
What makes Sigol Bapsang truly unique is its menu. It’s what I’d like to call banchan heaven. They specialize in these tasty side dishes and offer a wide variety, which change on a day to day or seasonal basis. For ₩8,000 you get about 28 side dishes with unlimited refills. One of my favourites is the jeon (전), which is a Korean style pancake. Occasionally they will serve one or two of the same dish, but that’s still 26 DIFFERENT side dishes… which is all sorts of awesomeness.
Of course you can’t fill up on side dishes alone, so they offer a modest menu of fish, stews and other dishes that go well with the feast of banchan. Having been there a few times since my first visit, I highly recommend their 계란찜 (steamed egg) and 불고기 (bulgogi). Just about any two dishes along with the banchan are more than enough to comfortably feed 3~4 people.
Overall, this is a great place to grab a filling traditional Korean lunch. If you’re visiting Korea or have friends/ family visiting, it’s the perfect way to get immersed in the culture. I just recently took my friend who was visiting from California and she absolutely loved it! The food is good, the ambiance is great and it’s definitely an experience to be had.
- 용산구 한남동 738-17
- 738-17, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul