During our recent trip to Seoul, we visited The Dam (더담) a modern Korean fusion restaurant in Hongdae. It is a restaurant that serves Hanjeongsik (한정식), traditional Korean course meals with a modern twist. Since 2013, the restaurant has been listed in Blue Ribbon Survey, South Korea’s first and premier restaurant guidebook.
While we thought it would be expensive to dine here, it turns out that the food was delicious and the price point is very affordable! I liked their Sirloin-wrapped Rice Cakes, as well as the Bossam, a boiled pork belly dish served with fresh veggie wraps and pickles!
The Hanjeongsik Course Meal
Hanjeongsik is a full-course traditional Korean meal served with an array of dishes from the appetizer, main dishes, and savoury side dishes and dessert. In ancient times, Hanjeongsik is enjoyed in the royal palaces and the homes of aristocrats. The dishes are usually prepared with seasonal fruits and vegetables, and the style and dishes would change following the season.
While in the olden days, all Hanjeongsik dishes were presented all at once on the table, most restaurants nowadays would serve the courses separately. At The Dam, they serve a variety of lunch and dinner course menus.
Lunch courses range from KRW 20,000 to 35,000 per pax, and dinner courses range from KRW 38,000 to 200,000 per pax. We had Lunch Course No.1 (런치 1 코스) which comprises a salad, 3 meat dishes, a siksa (식사, which usually includes rice, soup and 7 side dishes) and a dessert – that makes up a sumptuous lunch!
Lunch Course No.1 also consists of The Dam’s Signature dishes: Octopus Salad, Sirloin-wrapped Rice Cakes, Bossam (Boiled Pork Wraps) and Charcoal Grilled Pork with Ginseng which is a good introduction to the restaurant offerings.
The first dish was a complimentary appetizer – Grilled Rice Cake with Osmanthus Honey. Compared to Yaki Mochi, its Japanese grilled rice cake counterpart, the Korean grilled Garae-tteok has a lighter and fluffier texture, which makes it a pleasant appetizer when paired up with the osmanthus honey.
Next up was the Octopus Salad 문어 냉채. The octopus was tender and buttery soft, and the sweet, sharp and savoury yuzu salad dressing makes the dish so zesty, light, and refreshing!
The Meat Dishes
Sirloin-wrapped Rice Cakes 등심마늘쫑말이
I was particularly impressed with the sirloin-wrapped rice cakes! It is the chef’s rendition of ddeokgalbi (떡갈비) but with real rice cake added to the dish. The sirloin meat was finely minced and pounded, then marinated in a sweet and savoury sauce. The meat was attached to a chewy rice cake before grilling over charcoal.
The meat was nicely marinated and the chewy ddeok (rice cake), together with the juicy grilled pineapple and crispy lotus roots added a different texture to the dish. The medley of flavours and textures in this dish was addictive and makes me want to come back for more.
Another dish that I absolutely love here is the Bossam. It is traditionally a boiled pork belly dish served with some spicy radish salad as sides. Here at The Dam, they changed the belly to the more premium pork shoulder and boiled it with spices, and grilled it again before serving. The chef also switched out fresh garlic with fried garlic chips, and serve it with their radish salad made in-house, ssamjang and wasabi sauce.
This is a melt-in-your-mouth, umami flavour bomb of a boiled pork neck. It was so soft that the meat just dissolve in my mouth, blossoming into a flavour profile of sweet, salty and spicy — from the fatty meat and that refreshingly addictive in-house radish salad! How I wished we had ordered another plate of this amazingly delicious goodness!
Charcoal Grilled Pork 인삼 숯불 돼지장작구이
Next up was a chargrilled pork dish with ginseng gochujang sauce. Perhaps it was because the previous 2 meat dishes were very spectacular, this dish somehow did not manage to captivate my taste buds. While it isn’t a star dish compared to the previous two, it is a nice dish to compliment the rice nonetheless.
It was served together with the siksa, which comprises a Korean 5-grain rice, seaweed soup and 7 other banchan dishes.
Siksa – Rice, Soup & Banchans
The siksa (식사) comes with a bowl of rice, a seaweed soup and 7 banchan dishes (반찬). The banchans comprise dishes of different colours, prepared and cooked in different ways, including pickled, boiled, steamed and fried.
Dessert was a classic Korean dessert pairing of Korean Mixed Nuts Florentines 견과강정 with Korean Cinnamon Punch 수정과. The chilled punch or Sujeonggwa is a non-alcoholic Korean digestif made of ginger, cinnamon and sugar, and has a nicely spiced, aromatic taste that is usually served as a pick-me-up after a big meal.
Writer’s Note: Compared to other Hanjeongsik restaurants that take place in a traditional Hanok setting, The Dam offers a modern and casual Korean course meal atmosphere. I like it for its affordability, and that the food served is of great quality. It is a perfect and inexpensive way to discover the variety of Korean cuisine!
The course meals are strictly for a minimum of 2 diners and above. For solo travellers, you may opt for their ala-carte dishes!
The Dam 더담
44 Wausan-ro 29-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 마포구 와우산로29길 44
Tel.+82 2335 0066
12PM – 3PM | 5PM – 9PM
SAT – SUN:
12PM – 10PM