[Seoul] As Korean superstar Gong Yoo puts on his maroon-coloured apron, stirs the rice porridge and smiles, you can’t help but want to eat that Juk he is having.
I am talking about an ad of course, but it is not difficult to find a Gong Yoo-fronted shopfront selling rice porridge in Seoul, especially when there are a thousand over such partner stores in South Korea.
Bonjuk (본죽 or 本粥) is known for serving Juk which is Korean rice porridge.
While Juk is typically consumed as a breakfast item, or served to the elderly, sick and babies in Korea, chain stores like Bonjuk managed to transform this to quite a ‘hip’ food you can have at any time of the day.
At any season, not just winter.
The focus of Bonjuk is on wellness, health and nutrition, slow-cooked using fresh ingredients like how a mother would prepare porridge for the family.
While the signature here are the Abalone, Beef and Korean Ginseng porridge, you get more fanciful choices such as Hot Seafood and Vegetable, Octopus Kimchi, Clam Rice with Dried Radish, and Red Crabmeat Porridge.
There are also sweeter choices such as Sweet Pumpkin, Red Bean, Mung Bean, Black Sesame and Pine Nut Porridge.
A bowl is about 8000 to 10000 Korean Won (SGD9.35 – 11.70), though it can reach much higher if you pick the premium bowls.
I ordered an Abalone Porridge (11,000 Won, SGD12.90) and could understand its appeal – it was creamy, moderately savoury and nutritious-tasting.
During the colder weathers, this would be quite comforting and belly-warming to have.
However, compared to some of other restaurants that I visited, this version would be considered plain and perhaps bland (aka ‘healthier’) in terms of flavours.
The Beef Porridge with Pine Mushrooms had a luscious-thick consistency, though I also wished it would be tastier.
Perhaps I should have ordered a Seafood or Kimchi Porridge the next time.
There are several outlets within central Seoul itself, from Myeongdong to Hongdae. Just look out for Gong Yoo in an apron?
Do note that the stores can get quite crowded, and thus service (to tourists) may not be as ultra-friend as expected. At least there is an English menu for easier ordering.
(Above pic taken from Hongdae outlet)
Myeongdong outlet: Bonjuk 6 Myeongdong 8ga-gil, Chungmuro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening Hours: 9am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
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