[SEOUL] While the streets of Myeong Dong are still generally quiet with the absence of street hawkers for street food, thankfully there are still bunsik restaurant that managed to withstand the test of pandemic.

So what constitutes to a Bunsik restaurant?

While commonly termed as a restaurant, it is more of a casual cafeteria-like setting and usually serves up inexpensive fast food made from flour such as Gimbap (Rice rolls), Tteokbokki (Rice cakes) and Ramyun (instant noodles).

Around for decades since 1980s, Myeong Hwa Dang is such a place which my Korean friend recommended for Gimbap and Tteokbokki, as he used to patronize the place with his mum when he was kid.

Ah, the flavours of nostalgia.

There are 2 Gimbap (KRW 4000, SGD$4.50) flavours on the menu – Signature & Chamchi (Tuna).

Their signature Myeong Hwa Dang Gimbap came rolled with ham, omelette, cucumber, carrot and pickles.

For those who are unfamiliar, the key component of Korean gimbap is the rice; it is mixed with sesame oil and topped with sesame seeds for the rich earthy and nutty fragrance.

Coupled with all the ingredients to give a myriad of flavours and crunchy texture bursting in every mouthful.

On the other hand, the Chamchi gimbap uses white rice mixed in vinegar, rolled with tuna mayonnaise, cucumber, carrot, pickles and perilla leaves which imbues a fresh breath of mint.

What I love about their gimbap is that they are generously rolled with ingredients, a full roll can already serve as a fulfilling meal on its own. Very satisfying.

While I am not exactly a fan of rice cakes, their version ticks the check box of an excellent plate of Tteokbokki (KRW 4000, SGD$4.50).

The rice cake was tender soft and chewy, probably cooked over slow heat to derive that perfect bite texture.

Swimming in a pool of mildly-spiced, thickened gochujang sauce to soak up the flavours for a sweet-savoury finish.

Other than snacking food, they also serve an array of mains such as Bibimbap (Mixed Vegetable Rice) (KRW 7500, SGD$8.30), Bibim Naeng Myun (Mixed Cold Noodles) (KRW 6000, SGD$6.70), and Gogi Mandu (Meat Dumplings) (KRW 6500, SGD$7.20).

I was particularly interested in their Donkkaseu (KRW 7000, SGD$7.80), Korean version of deep-fried pork cutlet.

Breaded with breadcrumbs and deep-fried till golden brown, further blanketed with their house concoction of tomato-based sauce which provided a sweet-tangy contrast to the crispy pork cutlet savoury flavour.

Interestingly, traditional Korean donkkaseu are always served with accompanying tomato-based sauce and it’s the default flavour recognized by many.

Since Myeong Hwa Dang its not located on ground floor and could be easily missed, do look out for its bright yellow orange sunflower staircase signage which leads to the restaurant located on level 2.

Myeong Hwa Dang 명화당
30 Myeongdong 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening Hours: 9am – 10.30pm (Mon – Sun)

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* Written by Lewis Tan @juicyfingers, a self-proclaimed coffee addict. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.

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