For serious cravings of Gomtang, wander off to a busy Myeongdong side street and look for Ha Dong Kwan 하동관.
Recognized as the leading Gomtang house in Korea, Ha Dong Kwan earned the Bib Gourmand distinction in the Michelin Guide.
Ha Dong Kwan is a 15 minutes’ walk from Exit 5 of Euljiro 1-ga Station or Exits 7 & 8 of Myeong-dong Station. Plan your visit as they are closed every 1st and 3rd Sundays throughout the year.
Gomtang 곰탕? This is a traditional Korean beef bone soup served with sliced meats and rice, which was consumed by the noble class in the past due to its nutritious value.
The soup is cooked by using various parts of the beef – usually brisket, along with radish to boil.
Ha Dong Kwan has been in business since 1935 and has remained simple and old-fashioned throughout the years.
This family-owned eatery uses quality ingredients, consistently sourcing its beef from the same supplier for decades.
That rich, pure beef broth with a mild sweetness is a result of long and slow hours of boiling of beef parts and radish.
Freshness is key here, since they never use artificial flavours nor leftover soup.
There are four type of bowls to choose from, which includes Normal Beef Soup, Special Beef Soup, Special Plus Beef Soup, and Ultimate Beef Soup.
The regular normal version has 4 slices of meat, while the more expensive has added tripe.
Dishes are priced from 12,000 to 25,000 Won (SGD14 to SGD29), not the cheapest around though.
Served in traditional brass bowls, the Gomtang already holds some rice soaked in it.
If you are the type who loves your food rich and flavourful, you may just find this bowl on the other extreme end.
The soup is clear and actually quite bland.
I chose not to add any seasoning for half the bowl as I wanted to appreciate the nuances – it was quite a warm and comforting meal for the early morning. But I think not everyone would like this.
Most Koreans I observed would season with salt (some A LOT), add chopped green onions for added flavour, and include some kimchi and mix into the soup for tangy-spiciness.
It is best to drink some barley tea after finishing your bowl of Gomtang.
The shop opens at 7am, perfect for early birds. However, don’t arrive too late – they close doors once soup in the pot runs out; or during lunch time when it would be crowded with Koreans working in the vicinity.
Ha Dong Kwan
10-4 Myeong-dong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea
Tel: +82 2 776 5656
Opening Hours: 7am – 4:30pm (Mon – Sun), Closed 1st and 3rd Sun of the month
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