[Seoul, South Korea] Hit Korean drama Hotel del Luna starring IU and Yeo Jin-goo has stirred quite a wave, and made several restaurants and food items famous – from Pizza Alvolo, Hangover Soup, Rice Cakes, Red Bean Porridge to Steamed Buns.
One eatery which caught the attention of many is the popular dumpling restaurant Chang Hwa Dang 창화당.
Featured in the drama’s episode 1, the lead character Jang Man-wol (played by IU) takes Ku Chan-Seong (Yeo Jin-goo) to her favourite mandu place which is the Daehakro Branch of Chang Hwa Dang (창화당 대학로점, 서울 종로구 창경궁로26길 39 1층).
It is a place one must go to at least once in this lifetime.”, and that particular outlet is quite flooded with fans.
There are more than 10 branches of Chan Hwa Dang in Seoul such as Hannam, Seocho, Yangjae, Yeonnam, Yeongdeungpo, and Bongcheon; and I chose to visit the Ikseondong branch.
That is because another filming location – a pink café called “Hotel Seine” found just next to the dumpling store, is also featured in the drama. Kill two birds with one stone.
Ikseondong is a very charming place, a revamped old neighbourhood full of vintage charm and indie and shops. Not difficult to find unique restaurants and cafes as well.
Chan Hwa Dang is known for its Korean dumplings, serving up Mandu in different flavours such as Fried Truffle, Fried Shrimp, Fried Galbi, Fried Pork, Steamed Pork and Kimchi Mandu.
A plate of 6 pieces would cost about 6,500 to 8,000 Won (SGD7.60 to SGD9.40).
I would recommend getting the Mixed Mandu Plate (10,000 Won, SGD11.70) which contained a mixture of 8 pieces of pork, kimchi, galbi, truffle, shrimp and green chilli mandu.
A scissors would be provided for you to cut the fried dumplings up.
For diners not familiar with Korean food culture, you may think that Mandu are just pan-fried dumplings with the usual fillings such as pork and vegetable. Chan Hwa Dang managed to create quite a variety, with filings that were interesting and full of flavours.
The dumplings were nicely crisp with a thin skin. While every piece was glistening, they were also not as greasy as imagined, and the paper below remained quite oil-free.
The succulent shrimp and ‘fragrant’ truffle turned out to be my favourites.
If you need a more filling meal, also available are Mandu Soup (7,500 Won), Shrimp Wonton Noodles Soup (10,000 Won), Black Tteok-bokki (7,500 Won), Spicy Cold Noodles (7,500 Won) and Kimchi Fried Rice (8,000 Won) are available.
The eatery is also known for its Tteok-bokki (7,000 Won) – rice cakes that are conveniently served in an individual portion.
Topped with sesame leaves, boiled egg and fried flour for some crunch, the spicy Korean sauce was delightfully balanced in terms of sweetness and spiciness, with chewy soft rice cakes.
Take note that Chang Hwa Dang is popular among the youths and couples due to its vintage décor and affordable pricing, so do be prepared to wait.
Go during slightly off peak hours, write your name on the clip board and take a quick stroll around the charismatic Ikseon-dong to pass time.
Chang Hwa Dang 창화당
23 Supyo-ro 28-gil, Ikseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 9pm (Mon – Sun) (Break time 2:30pm – 4pm)
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