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Leaders in Korean government and corporations have for years been trying to lure the Michelin Red Guide to Seoul. Just consider it another gold star for their sticker charts in their neverending quest for status, along with international sporting events, ads in Times Square, and putting hanboks on foreign celebrities.

The first list of “Bib Gourmand” restaurants has been announced, which are supposed to be known for “exceptional food at moderate prices.” As predicted, it’s quite ego stroking. A lot of old school restaurants (anything ending in “-Ok”), some touristy ones (Myeongdong Gyoja), and a few surprises. The only non-Korean ones are a few Thai and a Japanese place and an Italian joint in Bukchon. Tuk-Tuk made it, and it’s a favorite amongst the Restaurant Buzz crowd. Noodle and mandu places dominate the list.

As for exceptional food at moderate prices–this is truly from an outsider with an above moderate budget or a tight circle of Korean food bloggers and newspaper reviewers trying to showcase what they think should be showcased. What makes me think this is the high number of Kalguksu places on here. I like Kalguksu just fine, but it’s kinda like highlighting the best mashed potato restaurants in Boise. Jokbal (pigs trotters) places also made a surprisingly strong showing. I just had jokbal this weekend for Halloween. It’s fine, but it’s not on my top ten list. Doganitang (knee cartilage soup) and Chueotang (loach soup)–at this point, I think whoever is in charge of this list is genuflecting and kissing some restaurant godfather’s ring. Neither of those dishes are honestly any good, unless you grew up with them. Unless you like bouncy chewy knee cartilage and slimy mudfish. There are some excellent ones on this list, but some others sound like something put together by a government agency.

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Here is a list of the restaurants with links to their locations.

Restaurant Name Food Type
Gaeseong Mandu Gung 개성만두 궁 Mandu (dumplings)
Gubok Mandu 구복만두 Mandu
Neungrado 능라도 Naengmyeon (chilled buckwheat noodles)
Daeseong Jip 대성집 Doganitang (Beef knee cartilage soup)
Mandu Jip 만두집 Mandu
Manjok Ohyang Jokbal 만족 오향 족발 Jokbal (pig trotters)
Myeongdong Gyoja 명동 교자 Kalguksu (hand-cut noodle soup)
Mokcheon Jip (Aengkol Kalguksu) 목천집 (앵콜칼국수) Kalguksu
Baek Nyeon Ok 백년옥 Tofu
Bongpiyang 봉피양 Naengmyeon
Busan Sikdang 부산식당 Saengtaetang (fish soup)
Bu-a 부아 Thai
Buchon Yukhwe 부촌육회 (in Gwangjang Market) Yukhwe (Korean beef tartare)
Bukmakgol 북막골 Korean
Subaru 스바루 Japanese soba
Arirang 아리랑 Korean
Yeokjeon Hwegwan 역전회관 Bulgogi
Oga-ne Jokbal 오가네 족발 Jokbal
Ogeun-ne Dalkgalbi 오근내 닭갈비 Spicy Korean barbecued chicken
Ojang-dong Hamheung Naengmyeon 오장동 함흥냉면 Naengmyeon
Otongyeong 오통영 Korean
Yong Geum Ok 용금옥 Chueotang (loach soup)
Yongsusan 용수산 Korean
Imun Seollongtang 이문 설농탕 Seollongtang (beef bone soup)
Italy Jae 이태리재 Italian
Imbyeongju San-dong Kalguksu 임병주 산동 칼국수 Kalguksu
Jaha Son Mandu 자하 손만두 Mandu
Jeongin Myeon Ok 정인면옥 Naengmyeon
Chanyang Jip 찬양집 Kalguksu
Chungmuro Jjukkuml Bulgogi 충무로 쭈꾸미 불고기 Barbecued tiny octopus
Tuk Tuk Noodle Thai 툭툭 누들 타이 Thai
Piyangkong Halmeoni 피양콩 할마니 Tofu
Pil-dong Myeon Ok 필동면옥 Naengmyeon
Hanilgwan 한일관 Korean
Halmae Jip 할매집 Jokbal
Hwangsaengga Kalguksu 황생가 칼국수 Kalguksu
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