Majangdong Beef Market & Sogyeokdong Kitchen
Written by Daniel Gray
Photographed by Daniel Gray & Ryu Seunghoo
Majang-dong Ushijang: Beef Market
One of the wonderful aspects about Korean markets is that you can not only shop for food there but also take your food to restaurants and dine there. If you are shopping at the market, you can be sure that the food is the freshest possible. This is the case at the famous Noryangjin Fish Market and at Majangdong Beef Market. The beef market is large and expansive, and if you decide to take a walk of the market, you’ll see butchers cutting up beef and pork. It is not for the faint of heart, for all cuts are on display, from skulls and tongues to tails and brains. But if you are looking for top-quality Korean Hanwoo beef at a decent price, then this is the place to go. For a large platter of Hanwoo A++ grade beef, it would cost about KRW 50,000 a platter (about 800 grams). If you were to get the same grade of meat at a restaurant, it would cost about KRW 150,000 or more, and you wouldn’t get the selection you get at the beef market. After you pick up your meat, you should go to a restaurant to sit and cook the meat. There is a sitting fee of KRW 5,000 a person and drinks are extra, but overall, you could have a great beef barbecue dinner for about KRW 70,000. Although the restaurants are not as luxurious as many of the top restaurants, the meat is of comparable quality. You often have to get your own refills of side dishes, sauces, garlic, and leaves for wrapping. Also, keep an eye on your fire. If it starts spitting grease, it means that you need to call a waiter, as you could have a grease fire on your hands. Sure it is a bit rustic (and slightly dangerous), but it is an experience that you can only have in Korea.
[box_info]Recommended restaurant at Majang-dong: Dongbu Chuksan | 동부축산[/box_info]
Price: Cost of meat plus KRW 5,000 per person plus drinks
(509-5 Majang-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul | 서울시 성동구 마장동 509-5)
Yongdu Station 용두역 (Line 2), Exit 4 or Majang Station 마장역 (Line 5), Exit 1
Sogyeokdong Kitchen | 소격동부엌
For those looking for a local experience, I would recommend this Korean restaurant hidden in the alleys of Samcheongdong. The little restaurant is in a quaint Korean house and was designed by artists that wanted to offer homestyle Korean food on antique servingware with a good selection of traditional alcohol. Note, the place is small and sits about 15 people in total, and you’ll have to be comfortable sitting on the floor. The atmosphere of the Korean house is the main draw, but the food keeps up with the theme. It is a local eatery that only the hip and discerning know about. The menu is seasonal and simple. On cold days, you can order a mackerel kimchi stew or a dumpling stew served in a stone pot. In warmer days, bibimbap, a mixed rice dish, is available. For those looking to have some cool refreshing rice beer, makgeolli, they offer pan-fried delicacies called jeon with the drink. They have North Korean beer; Cheonju, a Korean liquor; sake; and Akyang Makgeolli, which is a specialty of the Sangju region in Gyeongsangbuk-do. This makgeolli is considered by many to be the best in flavor and freshness and has a light, effervescent flavor. All of their dishes come served with homemade side dishes like kimchi, vegetables, and battered and fried spam (a delicacy in Korea). The waitstaff are friendly, and the atmosphere is sublime. Sitting in this ancient house away from the busy world is a bit of necessary peace.
[box_info]Sogyeokdong Kitchen | 소격동부엌[/box_info]
Hours: 11:30–3pm, 5pm–12pm
Price: KRW 7,000 for lunch, KRW 15,000 and up for bar food
(102-2 Sogyeok-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울시 종로구 소격동 102-2)
Anguk Station 안국역 (Line 3), Exit 1