A Village of Traditional Houses
Bukchon Hanok Village is another popular tourist destination in central Seoul. The word “bukchon” literally translates to “village up north”. It includes the area between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces. This was the northern part of old Seoul when it was the capital city of Joseon Dynasty.
Bukchon is famous for its traditional hanok houses. Once you climb up the winding stairs you get to look down at stunning view of the village covered with old roofs. The maze-like alleyways keep hidden shops and eateries that are waiting to be found.
One of these joints is Kkangtong Mandu, a homemade dumpling place that has been in business since 1988. The restaurant had been operating in Itaewon for over twenty years before relocation. It is not easy to find the restaurant without the GPS.
The back-alley eatery usually has people lining up outside. Especially after its appearance on popular television food show. Avoiding lunch hour and break time is your best bet to grab a seat without waiting.
Noodle Soup with Homemade Dumplings
The three different kinds of handmade dumplings are what made the restaurant famous. A bowl of dumpling & noodle soup contains three dumplings with different fillings: kimchi, seafood, and meat.
Seafood dumpling actually has a whole, decent-sized prawn in it. Kimchi dumpling is easy to tell as the orange-coloured filling can be seen through the wrapper. The dumplings taste quite like the ones my family and I made during holiday times. They are not extremely flavourful but light and healthy. With the minimum amount of spice, you can taste different ingredients in the dumpling.
The dumpling itself could be bland so dipping sauce and side dishes are crucial. Kkangtong’s cabbage kimchi and chive kimchi are made fresh in house. They greatly accompany the simplicity of dumplings.
The soy sauce with chopped chili is cherry on top. The pungent kick is exactly what these dumplings needed. I added some chili in the noodle soup as well for a balanced flavour.
The amount of noodles was just enough for me and I could not finish all three dumplings that are size of billiard balls. The employees were on their break and having late lunch at the table across from me. I asked if I could take the leftover to go, and the host behind the counter reacted very kindly and helped me pack my dumpling.
Kkangtong Mandu lived up to its reputation. Its food is clean, healthy, and handmade. The staffs are friendly and they seem happy to work there. Another great find in the alleyways of old Seoul.
Kkangtong Mandu 깡통만두
5-6 Bukchon-ro 2-gil, Gahoe-dong
11:30am-9:30pm, breaktime 3-5pm, closed on Sundays