ZenKimchi http://zenkimchi.com Exploring Korean food since 2004 Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:01:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Dos Mas http://zenkimchi.com/featured/dos-mas/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/dos-mas/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:44:42 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44037 Location: Chain
Cuisine: Mexican
Price: $
Reservations: No
Suggested Items: Burrito

This little Mexican joint lets you build your own burrito. Choose your set, meat, level of spice, and extras. They assemble it and grill it. I ordered a mixed meat one, spicy, jumbo size with added beans. It looked great when it came out. First bite, though, and I found it was very Koreanized–not in a Kogi Taco Truck way but in a Lotte Department Store kebab way. My mouth was full of shredded cabbage, rice, and what I swear was Thousand Island dressing. Eventually some meat poked through. The most alarming part was the beans. I was expecting some refried beans or even some canned pinto or black beans. I think the beans in this one were the cheap baked beans that are put in budae jjigae. Despite this, after a few more bites, this burrito started to grow on me. Then I came to my senses. I don’t think I’ll return.

Reviewer Rating


Diner Rating Please vote ONLY if you have eaten here.

Other Amenities: Some English on the menu

Website: http://www.dosmas.co.kr/

2014-04-10 14.20.43 2014-04-10 14.08.452014-04-10 14.08.562014-04-10 14.13.07

* Please help complete this review by adding information in the comments

http://zenkimchi.com/featured/dos-mas/feed/ 0
Protected: Lex’s Final Night http://zenkimchi.com/diary/lexs-final-night/ http://zenkimchi.com/diary/lexs-final-night/#comments Sun, 06 Apr 2014 07:58:08 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44017

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

http://zenkimchi.com/diary/lexs-final-night/feed/ 5
The Rise of the Sandwich… and Ghosts? http://zenkimchi.com/featured/the-rise-of-the-sandwich-and-ghosts/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/the-rise-of-the-sandwich-and-ghosts/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 07:17:05 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44006 Groove_cover

The cover story in the April issue of Groove is about the rise of sandwiches in Seoul (p. 36). Any expat here has experienced that odd creature that is the Korean sandwich. It’s where sandwich art goes to die. Ham, cheese, and strawberries. BLT with tartar sauce. Today, I saw at Paris Croissant a new fish sandwich that had a fried fish fillet, lettuce, tartar sauce, and… sweet bulgogi sauce. It’s like Korean sandwich makers get 60-80% of the sandwich just right and think, “Now, how can I totally fuck this up?”

We even have a Facebook group called Sandwich Lovers Seoul to track down good sandwiches and to poke fun at Bob Kienzle’s photography.


There is a piece on ghosts in Seoul that highlights our Dark Side of Seoul Tour (p. 48). It’s a good read that gives a handful of stories that won’t make you look at the city the same way again. If you want to take the Dark Side of Seoul Tour, click here to RSVP.


You can listen to an interview about the Dark Side tour on Groove’s podcast at this link.

Can’t view it? Click here.

http://zenkimchi.com/featured/the-rise-of-the-sandwich-and-ghosts/feed/ 0
Wine Down Wednesday. April 23rd. Mario’s Kitchen in Garosu-gil. http://zenkimchi.com/featured/wine-down-wednesday-april-23rd-marios-kitchen-in-garosu-gil/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/wine-down-wednesday-april-23rd-marios-kitchen-in-garosu-gil/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 06:17:51 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=43985


Toast spring with the Most Interesting Crowd in Seoul™!

This month we head on over to swanky Garosu-gil in south Seoul to wine and dine at Mario’s Kitchen, an American-style barbecue grill joint.

As always, there will be unlimited wines and raffle prizes.

Raffle prizes include:

Dress Shirt (women & men) gift certificate from Well Dressed

Picnic Pack of Sausages and French Delights from France Gourmet

Bottle of Premium Liqueur from Big Shot Imports

Tickets for the Dark Side of Seoul Tour


532-2 Sinsa-dong
Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Pre-pay W45,000 ($45)
At the door W60,000
Group ticket (4 or more) $39.99
You can pay by credit card or bank transfer.
강태안 플렌이엘

Kookmin Bank


http://zenkimchi.com/featured/wine-down-wednesday-april-23rd-marios-kitchen-in-garosu-gil/feed/ 0
Avengers Cancels Seoul Shoot. Moves to Japan. http://zenkimchi.com/news-media/avengers-cancels-seoul-shoot-moves-to-japan/ http://zenkimchi.com/news-media/avengers-cancels-seoul-shoot-moves-to-japan/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 21:01:30 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=43977 AprilFoolAvengers

This was our April Fool’s joke for 2014

It’s over, so don’t take it seriously.

After local complaints that letting “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” film in Seoul did not entitle citizens to find out plot spoilers, and after finding a dead body floating under the bridge where they were filming, director Joss Whedon has decided to pack up and move the production to Japan.

“Um, this wasn’t quite what we expected,” said a slightly sheepish but annoyed Whedon, “But we look forward to working with the Japanese government in making up the funds we lost in Seoul. They also suggested we add a scene on an island, Takeshima? Is that how you pronounce it? Well, expect an epic battle off the Sea of Japan.”








































April Fools!

http://zenkimchi.com/news-media/avengers-cancels-seoul-shoot-moves-to-japan/feed/ 5
Premium Kimbap? http://zenkimchi.com/featured/premium-kimbap/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/premium-kimbap/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 04:41:24 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=43967 Food trends in Seoul these days tend to center around foreign cuisine. I was happy to find that we are finding new innovations with Korean food in the humble kimbap. This one is long overdue. Kimbap is almost but not quite like a sushi maki roll but filled with meats, pickled radishes, and fresh vegetables. The choices for kimbap have been limited in most places, generally regular, cheese, canned tuna, kimchi, and beef. Sometimes you find dried anchovy kimbap.

On the blogs, I’ve been recently been reading about new types of “premium” kimbap shops opening. One leading the charge is a place in Apgujeong I still haven’t gone to that puts camembert and Dutch edam cheeses in its rolls. The one I want to highlight here is Bapuri, which has a few franchises around Korea, including the one we went to in Hongdae, right next to the park.

2014-03-27 11.46.00

They don’t have a premium price, at W2,500 to W4,000 per roll. The flavors include donkkaseu (pork cutlet), barbecued pork (regular and spicy), fiery pork and chilies, double cheese, fried shrimp, canned tuna with fresh wasabi, spicy tuna, barbecue gochujang, and chicken & broccoli.

2014-03-27 11.38.52

Wasabi tuna kimbap

Wasabi tuna kimbap

Barbecued pork kimbap

Barbecued pork kimbap

We tried the basic barbecued pork (숯불 김밥 sutbul kimbap) and the tuna wasabi (생와사비 참차 김밥 saeng wasabi kimbap). The pork was a basic smoky pork like you’d find in a triangle kimbap in a convenience store–but fresher. We really enjoyed the wasabi tuna. It was like a tuna fish sandwich with just enough nose sting from the wasabi–enough to get a kick without being overwhelming.

I’m starting to see and hear of other stores selling upgraded kimbap. Have you tried any?

http://zenkimchi.com/featured/premium-kimbap/feed/ 2
Today’s Seoul Restaurant Buzz: Ramen, BBQ, and a GOOD Burger http://zenkimchi.com/featured/todays-seoul-restaurant-buzz-ramen-bbq-and-a-good-burger/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/todays-seoul-restaurant-buzz-ramen-bbq-and-a-good-burger/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 03:20:06 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=43963 Here are some of the latest posts on our Facebook group Restaurant Buzz Seoul:

GOOD Burger Pop-up @Bulldogs

So, British pub Bulldogs is going to do a burger pop-up. And the word on the street is excited.

Looks interesting. It’ll be Friday, April 4th starting at 6 p.m. Details here.

Star Chef Returns

A few years ago, the restaurant foreigners and Koreans raved about was a hard-to-find bistro in non-descript Dogok-dong. The chef-owner moved to America for his daughter’s education at the height of its popularity. Well, he has now returned with the re-opening of Star Chef. This time it’s new Olympic Park in Jamsil.

Hakata Ramen in Yangjae

“Noodle Princess” Jian and I stumbled upon this Japanese ramen shop, Ramen Maru, by Yangjae Citizens Forest Station, across from the aT Center. I have been hunting for Hakata ramen like I had in Fukuoka years ago, and this is the closest I’ve come. Creamy pork broth with a hint of shrimp. Eggy noodles. Perfectly cooked egg. The full meal set was enough for both of us at W8,000.

I’ve also been hearing good things about Hakada Bunko in Hongdae.

UPDATE: There is at least one other location in Seoul. This one is in Hyehwa.

Austin BBQ in Hongdae

Speaking of Hongdae, I was testing out our new Hongdae food tour last week, when I saw this building. Austin: The Smokehouse. Are we going to get some Austin-style smoked brisket in Seoul soon?

http://zenkimchi.com/featured/todays-seoul-restaurant-buzz-ramen-bbq-and-a-good-burger/feed/ 0
SPOILER ALERT: The Avengers at Kimbap Cheonguk http://zenkimchi.com/featured/spoiler-alert-the-avengers-at-kimbap-cheonguk/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/spoiler-alert-the-avengers-at-kimbap-cheonguk/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 03:49:50 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=43928 “Good job, guys. Let’s just not come in tomorrow. Let’s just take a day. Have you ever tried kimbap? There’s a kimbap joint about two blocks from here. I don’t know what it is, but I wanna try it.”


Seoul is going nuts over the Avengers 2 shooting that’s happening for the next few weeks. Kinda like a small town excited to have a Hollywood movie shooting there—SQUEEEE!!!

Photoshops are appearing on the Facebooks.



Avengers 6 Avengers4 Avengers5

If you can read the Korean notice below, they’re looking for extras to play injured Seoulites.



Alas, all these photos are fake. Even the call for extras.

HT to Ron Chang

http://zenkimchi.com/featured/spoiler-alert-the-avengers-at-kimbap-cheonguk/feed/ 0
Cheesy NYT Bulgogi Ad is Cheesy http://zenkimchi.com/featured/cheesy-nyt-bulgogi-ad-is-cheesy/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/cheesy-nyt-bulgogi-ad-is-cheesy/#comments Thu, 13 Mar 2014 05:14:14 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=43908 Bulgogi Ad

[HT @Virginialicious]

Our favorite silly ad warriors are at it again. And they haven’t learned one thing from all their embarrassing ads from the past. Again, they think that the New York Times is the most effective place to promote Korean food. For you advertising students out there, let’s break this ad down and point out what’s so wrong with it.

Benchmarking Copying the Got Milk? ad campaign


Thought that headline looked familiar, huh? The Got Milk? campaign from 20 years ago was a big hit–20 years ago.  It’s since been retired. That campaign pretty much cornered the market on short headlines followed by question marks. There’s this crutch Korean culture marketers have of making every headline a question (“Do you know?”). To me, it also has a slight air of condescension. “Oh, we’re sure you don’t know what bulgogi is, so we’re going to teach you about it.”

Celebrity Endorsement

Another crutch Korean ad agencies lean on is celebrity endorsement. Extremely so. Celebrity endorsement is the least creative and least effective form of advertising.


On top of that, celebrity endorsements really don’t work when the public really doesn’t know your celebrity. We saw this with the CNBLUE campaign and the bibimbap one with the actress from Dae Jang Geum. Hardcore fans know who they are, but most don’t. Why is a baseball player from the Texas Rangers advertising in a New York newspaper? Yankees? Mets? I’m pretty sure New Yorkers could care less about the Rangers. And the ad copy actually has to take up valuable space explaining who he is! Celebrity endorsement FAIL.

Bulgogi is Magic?

The copy then says that he only got through spring training through the power of BULGOGI. No, he didn’t hit a bunch of home runs or pitch a no hitter. He got through training. You know, because most major league baseball players don’t make it through training without bulgogi. It’s almost as if the ad copy is talking to children about the powerful properties Body Buddies cereal has to make them run faster. (I actually believed that, and I’m still pissed.)

Small Technical Nitpicks

I’ve already read some comments that the bulgogi in the picture looks a little stiff and unrealistic. Yeah, I guess you could say that. The overall look of the photo looks outdated. They also broke one of the big cardinal sins of video and photography–don’t wear clothes with tight lines and patterns. See how the shirt shimmers unnaturally? It has stripes that are too fine and close together, which causes this effect. It’s about as big of a snafu as a meteorologist wearing green.

So guys, again you’ve wasted your donors’ funds to create another goofy awkward ad in the NYT. I’m sure the Korean media will all go ga-ga over it, which really is the purpose of these ad campaigns. They’re not made to promote Korean food to foreigners. They’re a type of cultural masturbation to make Koreans at home think these guys have hit a homerun.


http://zenkimchi.com/featured/cheesy-nyt-bulgogi-ad-is-cheesy/feed/ 6
Critic Burns Trendy Itaewon Restaurant via Epic Email http://zenkimchi.com/featured/critic-burns-trendy-itaewon-restaurant-via-epic-email/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/critic-burns-trendy-itaewon-restaurant-via-epic-email/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 13:26:49 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=43878 Grumpy Cat

Background on this. An Itaewon restaurant wanted a local magazine to review it. After eating there, the reviewer sent this email in reply. I was given permission to re-post this. Names have been redacted.

 Hi XXXX, how are you?

I’m writing concerning the status of the article about your restaurant. Let me preface it by saying thank you for the samples you provided and for your time. 

Essentially, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will not be able to write a review of your establishment for the magazine. Well, to be clear, I could write it, but you would not like what I have to say, as it would include more negatives than positives, and that’s not beneficial for your business. 

While I enjoyed the chicken and the pasta, they weren’t inherently special in anyway to differentiate themselves from the broad array of options n Itaewon. I thought this about the whole menu as well, especially at what I feel are inflated prices, there should be something really to make it stand out from the crowd. 

I feel that is a good way to sum up my feelings about the establishment in general. I went in there thinking it was a rustic establishment catering to whiskey fans. That would’ve been something worth writing about. Besides your lack of knowledge about whiskies/bourbons/and Scotch in general, we were quickly informed it used to be mostly wines….then whiskies, but now you feel craft beers are big so you want to introduce those. Likewise for the menu, you said it was Americana, then specifically steak, but bringing in pastas and Asian influences. Also there was talk of becoming more of a brunch place, and having outdoor cooking, and some buffets, where people paid per dish – once they had purchased X amount of alcohol. 

In essence, there was no focus or main thrust whatsoever. I feel you want people to come spend money at the restaurant, but have no cohesive vision of what your restaurant should be. The interior and atmosphere you were very clear about, wanting everything to be “high-end and high-class, in a completely casual atmosphere,” which to me sounds confused and contradictory as well. 

You even mentioned that trends change in Korea very quickly, and you’re trying to keep up. That, in my opinion, is what is wrong with many of the new establishments in Itaewon, most of which will be gone in a couple of years once the public has moved onto the newest thing. 

Most of the real successful long-term business popular among expats have a very clear and defined sense of identity, with unique menu options, and those are what most of our readership prefer and expect to be honestly informed about. I could not in good conscience recommend XXXXX to any of my friends, and so most certainly could not put my reputation as a writer on the line doing so to the broader public. 

I have copied the general content editor and the food editor at Groove on this, as I want it to be in the open why I am declining this piece. I should mention that there are advertisements and advertorials available in our magazine and other English language publications as well, for a price of course, and the content would be completely up to you to decide. 

However, I feel something more drastic will have to be done to give your restaurant the kind of repeat, long-term customer base all food establishments need to thrive. 

I hope you understand, I am just trying to be perfectly honest. I wish you, and XXXXX, the best of luck.

- Ian Henderson


 UPDATE: By request, the magazine’s name and author’s name have been un-redacted.

http://zenkimchi.com/featured/critic-burns-trendy-itaewon-restaurant-via-epic-email/feed/ 3