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’s with 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.

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

Restaurant NameFood Type
Gaeseong Mandu Gung 개성만두 궁Mandu (dumplings)
Gubok Mandu 구복만두Mandu
Neungrado 능라도Naengmyeon (chilled buckwheat noodles)
Daeseong Jip 대성집Doganitang (Beef knee cartilage soup)
Mandu Jip 만두집Mandu
Manjok Ohyang Jokbal 만족 오향 족발Jokbal (pig trotters)
Myeongdong Gyoja 명동 교자Kalguksu (hand-cut noodle soup)
Mokcheon Jip (Aengkol Kalguksu) 목천집 (앵콜칼국수)Kalguksu
Baek Nyeon Ok 백년옥Tofu
Bongpiyang 봉피양Naengmyeon
Busan Sikdang 부산식당Saengtaetang (fish soup)
Bu-a 부아Thai
Buchon Yukhwe 부촌육회 (in Gwangjang Market)Yukhwe (Korean beef tartare)
Bukmakgol 북막골Korean
Subaru 스바루Japanese soba
Arirang 아리랑Korean
Yeokjeon Hwegwan 역전회관Bulgogi
Oga-ne Jokbal 오가네 족발Jokbal
Ogeun-ne Dalkgalbi 오근내 닭갈비Spicy Korean barbecued chicken
Ojang-dong Hamheung Naengmyeon 오장동 함흥냉면Naengmyeon
Otongyeong 오통영Korean
Yong Geum Ok 용금옥Chueotang (loach soup)
Yongsusan 용수산Korean
Imun Seollongtang 이문 설농탕Seollongtang (beef bone soup)
Italy Jae 이태리재Italian
Imbyeongju San-dong Kalguksu 임병주 산동 칼국수Kalguksu
Jaha Son Mandu 자하 손만두Mandu
Jeongin Myeon Ok 정인면옥Naengmyeon
Chanyang Jip 찬양집Kalguksu
Chungmuro Jjukkuml Bulgogi 충무로 쭈꾸미 불고기Barbecued tiny octopus
Tuk Tuk Noodle Thai 툭툭 누들 타이Thai
Piyangkong Halmeoni 피양콩 할마니Tofu
Pil-dong Myeon Ok 필동면옥Naengmyeon
Hanilgwan 한일관Korean
Halmae Jip 할매집Jokbal
Hwangsaengga Kalguksu 황생가 칼국수Kalguksu

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