[Seoul, South Korea] Founded by an elderly Gaeseong native, Gaeseong Mandu Koong is a dumpling speciality store which has been operating since 1970, now managed by their third generation.
Like the store name suggests, they specialize in Gaeseong-style dumpling which are handmade daily to shape like a crescent moon and filled with generous amount of ingredients.
Just like how the owner’s late grandmother used to do it with love, dedication and commitment to taste quality. Accordingly, the founders fled south during the Korean War, and ran this restaurant subsequently.
Some of their loyal fans even endorse that their dumplings taste exactly the same as how it was since the olden days.
They are also awarded with Michelin Bib Gourmand for offering high-quality meals at wallet-friendly price point.
Located in one of the inconspicuous alleys along Insadong Shopping Street, I had a hard time locating the place.
Thankfully for the ahjumma who was skillfully wrapping dumplings at the entrance which caught my attention and led me to the store.
Nested in a Korean Hanok, the rustic charm from the traditional architecture complements the food with its own heritage.
While the place was not exactly spacious and filled with people, the dining experience was pretty chill and there was hardly any loud conversation from neighbouring diners.
There are a few ways to enjoy Gaeseong mandu.
One can choose from having it cooked in sharing hotpot, eaten together with rice cake soup, or just simply have it steamed.
I started with a bowl of Choraengi Rice Cake Soup with Dumplings (KRW12,000, SGD13.90) and was served with four dumplings of half my palm size topped with petite rice cakes shaped like our usual tang yuan.
The plump, juicy mandu was generously stuffed with fillings such as pork, napa cabbage, leek and tofu.
While the dish looks plain on its own, it was hearty and packed with flavours coming from the beef soup, pork meat and assorted vegetables.
The Dumplings with Bossam Set (KRW 18,000, SGD20.80) came with slices of braised steamed pork, seasoned radish and pickled cabbage.
Wrap the ingredients together and have it with a mouthful of mandu will create another set of bursting flavour that can please any taste buds.
Being an avid fan of mandu, I decided to also order the Steamed Kimchi Dumplings (KRW13,000, SGD15.00) which has kimchi mixed into the pork fillings.
Contrary to the original, this has a slight sourish and spicy kick which would probably cater to those who prefer stronger flavour.
They also serve a range of Jeon (Pancakes) with options such as Seafood & Green Onion, Kimchi, Pepper & Chives, Mung Bean Jeon and Potato.
For those who cannot make up their mind on which to choose, there is a Jeon Platter (KRW27,000, SGD31.20) which serves a miniature version of each flavour.
There were a few hits and misses, I find their Jeon slightly starchy to my liking as I prefer Korean pancakes with crispy exterior.
Overall, I was quite impressed with the consistency of their food quality despite they are all being handmade.
The flavours of the food, while not exceptionally mind-blowing at first, resonated well like gentle ripples on water and left a lasting impression of its mellow delicate flavour.
For those who love the mandu from Myeongdong Kyoja, this would be a mandu variation you wouldn’t want to miss.
Gaeseong Mandu Koong 개성만두 궁
11-3 Insadong 10-gil, Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울 종로구 인사동 10길 11-3
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 9.30pm (Mon – Sat), 11.30am – 8pm (Sun)
Google Maps – Gaeseong Mandu Koong
Other Related Entries
Myeongdong Kyoja (Myeongdong, Seoul)
Korea Samgyetang (Jung-gu, Seoul)
MiGaBon 味加本 (Myeongdong, Seoul)
Grandmother’s Recipe (Seongsu-dong, Seoul)
Yukjeon Hoekwan 역전회관 (Mapo-gu, Seoul)
* Written by Lewis Tan @juicyfingers, a self-proclaimed coffee addict. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.