A 75-Year-Old Dumpling Restaurant

Koong is a restaurant hidden in back alley of busy Insadong Culture Street. However, the place almost always has people lined up in front for their famous handmade dumplings. The restaurant was listed on 2017 Michelin Guide Korea’s Bib Gourmand and it is already well-known among tourists.

Traditional Hanok restaurant in Insadong

The family joint was founded by current owner’s late grandmother, who was born in city of Gaesung in present-day North Korea. After marrying grandfather, grandma started to make traditional Gaesung-style dumplings according to her mother’s recipe. The business first began in Yeongdeungpo, but later moved to Insadong where their hanok home was located.

The current restaurant building is the family’s old home, renovated to host patrons  from all over the world. I visited at around 3pm on a Tuesday. There was no line-up but there were only a few empty tables inside. Several foreign visitors were visible as well. The host, a middle-aged gentleman, has mistaken me for a foreigner and greeted me in English. “English menu?” He said fluently. I replied that Korean is fine. He seemed delighted.

Joraengi Rice Cake Soup – A Gaesung Favourite

 Rice cake & dumplings soup is the signature menu. The restaurant uses special rice cake called joraengi. The tiny snowman-shaped rice cakes is a specialty of Gaesung region. A wooden knife is used to shape out the dough and create cute little rice cakes.

The dumpling is simple and light–almost a little bland. They are very much alike the dumplings my family made at home during holiday seasons. Homemade dumplings with very little seasoning. At Koong, they make dumplings from scratch every day to provide freshest products. You can also purchase uncooked dumplings to go.

Gaesung Mandu – Koong  개성만두 궁
30-11, Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul