I just spent one week in Seoul on my own, indulging in my usual activities of eating, shopping, cafe-hopping and watching musicals. I was not feeling too great during the trip because a pinched nerve in my lower back has been troubling me for a while. So I had to take it easy and very slow this time, and sadly, did not manage to cover half of the items on my carefully researched food itinerary.
While I did not manage to tick off most of the items on my food itinerary, I discovered one or two little gems quite by accident on this trip, and Yeosu Handurae at Gyeongbokgung is one of them. I was looking for a nyaengmyeon place on my food itinerary along Hyoja-ro at Gyeongbokgung. It had started to drizzle. To my utter disappointment, the nyaengmyeon shop was not opened for business. I have no idea if it has moved to another location, has closed permanently, or just closed for the day. By this time, the light drizzle had become a light rain which threatened to turn into a downpour. I needed to find shelter, so I ducked into an eatery – which I learnt later was called Yeosu Handurae – that I saw earlier walking up Hyoja-ro.
Opening the menu (which came with English descriptions – lucky me), I was happy to see the item ‘eel soup’ (because I love eels) and ordered it immediately. The owner gave me a thumbs-up for my choice, and told me in English that this soup (which he refers to in Korean as ‘jangeo tang‘; ‘jangeo‘ is freshwater eel) is a good summer food for the body.
The spicy eel soup was SO good. The broth was very spicy (not for the faint-hearted; I sweated profusely throughout the meal) yet refreshing, and it contained a generous assortment of ingredients – gosari, leeks, onions, bean sprouts, and small pieces of eel. This giant bowl of soup came with a bowl of rice and seven side dishes. All of this for KRW10,000 (about USD10). Incredible value for a delicious and nutritious meal. This restaurant is definitely going into my ‘repeat visit’ list. Besides spicy eel soup, Yeosu Handurae also serves Yeosu-style sashimi (I have no idea what that is, but sounds like something that I will like) and gaejang (marinated raw crabs which I love).
I know many people feel that Korean food all taste the same – spicy, spicy and more spicy. I beg to defer. This spicy bowl of jangeo tang tastes so different from the other spicy soups that I enjoy, such as kimchi jigae, yukgaejang, and soondubu jigae. I am looking forward to eating this again.
Yeosu Handurae (여수한두래)
Address: 5, Hyoja-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울시 총로구 통의동 35-84번지 1층)
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11:30 am – 2 pm / 6 pm – 10 pm
(Photo courtesy of Visit Seoul
Leave Gyeongbokgung Place subway station by Exit 3. Once you are at the top of the staircase leading out of Exit 3, turn backwards and you will see the palace walls of the National Palace Museum. Walk about 50m towards the wall until you come to a street in front of you – this is Hyoja-ro. Turn left and walk along Hyoja-ro; the palace walls should be on your right. You will arrive at a small street known as Jajamun-ro-2 gil, and Yeosu Handurae is right in front of you.