October 25, 2017

A Gem in Hongdae

Perhaps I should set expectations first before diving into this post. 

Yangkyu and I don't gravitate toward fancy luxury restaurants, whether we are away on travel or frankly when we are even home - even on special occasions. It's a bit stuffy and uncomfortable for us. 

When traveling, we like to try street food, hole in the wall restaurants and those gems that not lot of tourists know about but is a favorite among locals. 

If you are like us and if you are ever in Hongdae for dinner then perhaps Ma Po So Gum Goo Ee (마포 소금구이) is the place for you. 

One of the days while we were in Korea, we met up with a couple who we got to know through Instagram. It was the mutual love for our cocker spaniels that first drew us communicate with each other. Win, their cocker, also crossed the rainbow bridge just shortly after Piri crossed. Win was battling a heart condition.

It was touching when they reached out after finding out that Yangkyu and I would be in Korea and said they would really like to meet us if our schedule permitted. I normally shy away from these kinds of meetings (severe introvert here) but with Win's family it only felt right to meet in person as we had shared so many correspondences to help carry each other during times of sadness, happiness and eventually the heartbreaking parting with our best friends. 

And so on a warm evening we met them near Dongdaemun Design Plaza where they picked us up, and after showing us around to different places and neighborhoods we danced that tricky dance of figuring out what each other's tastes were in terms of eating.

What were we in the mood for? What do we like? Do we want something fancy? What about the ambiance? Quiet? Upbeat? Outdoors? Indoors? Yangkyu and I kept saying, "Anything is ok with us," which probably is the worst answer you can give a person trying to pick a restaurant to eat for the entire group.

Normally it's so hard to give my opinion on something because I don't want to limit options for everyone, but because I felt comfortable being around them despite it being our first meeting, I said, "Yangkyu and I don't necessarily like fancy places. We like the kind of bbq style over charcoal on metal tables and where it just feels like everyday."

It turned out it was exactly their style as well.

And so they took us to a place they go regularly, where they are friends with the owners and where they grab their own coke and soju bottles and call out to the owners, "We took one more coke bottle!" and they would call back, "Ok!" It was just the right mood and place to be in. 

You can see more of the interior of the place here (the link takes you to a Korean language blog post). 

Parking is a bit difficult and it may be easier to get to if you know someone who lives in Korea who can take you there, but may be an adventure on its own to find it.

It's near the old Hongdae Train Track, where many people like to picnic and pass time outdoors. The exact address of the restaurants is -- Seoul Mapo-gu Suh Gyo Dong 9-1 (서울 마포구 서교동 9-1) and the name is Mapo So Gum Goo Ee (마포 소금구이). 


  1. That's my type of places as well. My partner and I love finding local spots when we travel. We literally stalk a place and look outside the window to see who is eating inside. If it's all tourists then we don't go in, lol.

    I don't even care if they have any English menu. I'd rather point or look at photos to order.

  2. Sounds like the perfect place to eat and I totally understand not wanting to limit people but you handled it perfectly :) I love win win situations!

  3. My family are not fancy eaters either. In fact, most of the places we eat at are what people consider "hole in the wall" but I find these are the best places to find great food. Thanks for the heads up about this place, Jane. And how sweet was that that you met an online IRL. I'm like you...am extremely an introvert that I don't think I can ever do meet ups, but yay when you meet someone who really click with:)

    1. Thanks for the link to that blog, Jane! OMG!


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