As we approach the colder days in Korea, you’d definitely crave a stomach-warming bowl of soupy stuff during your trip in Seoul. How about a lip-smacking good, deeply-flavoured kimchi soup, with soft, fall-of-the-bone pork ribs?
Located in Bukchon area and hidden in one of the quaint golmok (alleyways) filled with old shophouses and hanoks is a Matjib (맛집) called Bukchon Kimchi-jae 북촌김치재. It is a humble restaurant that offers delicious Braised Pork Ribs with Aged Kimchi, Mugeunji Galbi-Jjim (목은지 갈비찜). The restaurant rises to stardom after appearing at South Korea’s ever-popular gourmet variety show ‘Wednesday Food Talk’ (수요미식회).
If you frequent Samcheong-dong and Bukchon area, you’d know that it is a cafe and foodie paradise. However, if you are craving the real Matjibs or authentic restaurants that the locals frequent, you’ll have to do some research on Naver.
If you are the more intuitive traveller, a general tip to enjoy authentic Korean food places in Korea is simply to look for banners that have the logo of TV variety shows “수요미식회” or “맛있는 녀석들”. These are the two reputable foodie shows that produce great food content in South Korea.
Similar to most popular and authentic Korean food restaurants, they have a rather simple menu too! For aged kimchi stew, you can choose from a variety of different pork cuts: Galbi-Jjim (braised pork ribs), Samgyupsal (pork belly), and Duruchigi (pork brisket). If prefer fish, there is also Godeung-o-Jjim (braised mackerel fish) or Galchi Jorim (hairtail fish stew). The minimum order is 2 pax per dish.
They do offer very basic, complimentary banchan but if you wished to order something special to go with your meal, there are Cheese Kimchi Pancakes (치즈 김치전) and Cheese Egg Rolls (치즈계란말이) too!
We ordered the Aged Kimchi Braised Pork Ribs or Mugeunji Galbi-Jjim (묵은지 갈비찜) for two which cost KRW 10,000 per pax. The dish came quickly in a mini gas stove.
For the uninitiated, Mugeunji (aged kimchi) Galbi-Jjim is slightly different from the usual Kimchi-Jjim. You’ll have to use aged kimchi that is well fermented for that acidic and pungent kimchi flavour in the stew. Hence, the kimchi used in this particular dish has to be kimchi that has aged over at least 6-months.
Fret not, the soup doesn’t smell like the Taiwanese smelly tofu. The aged kimchi gives off that deep flavour in the soup that new kimchi would otherwise, be unable to achieve such deliciously concentrated flavour. Each order comes with 1 serving of ramyeon noodles. As we prefer the soup to thicken up, we throw the ramyeon in when the soup is about to boil.
The pork ribs are really tender with almost-fell-off-the-bone meat. Each piece of the ribs has fully soaked up that richly flavoured, mildly-firey soup that is so addictive! And the aged kimchi is braised tender-soft for hours, biting into the braised kimchi would release that juicy, sour and sweet taste that is soul-warming and comforting, you’d definitely down a bowl of rice in no time.
Writer’s Note: This is the place to go if you are around Bukchon or Samcheong-dong area when you are craving spicy kimchi soup. I love the taste of the soup and the tender soft ribs! We didn’t order the Kimchi Cheese Pancakes but we saw other tables ordered it and it looked super delicious with that thick and gooey Mozzarella cheese oozing out from the pancake!
While the dishes are delicious, the banchan were rather simple and therefore a little disappointing. That said, the meal costs KRW 10,000 per pax and given that the restaurant is located at a prime, touristy location, considering the quality and the quantity I would say it is value for money! A great place to warm your stomach in winter!
Bukchon Kimchi-jae 북촌김치재
8 Bukchon-ro 2-gil, Jae-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 종로구 재동 북촌로2길 8
Tel. +82 2 3673 0011
Operating Hours: 11 am – 9 pm