Food + Soju + Good Times
Ox bone soup or seol-leong-tang (설렁탕) is a mainstay of Korean cuisine. Seolleongtang (SLT) is a soup, Koreans need some kind of broth with every meal. It has noodles, Korean love noodles. And its eaten with rice and kimchi, self-explanatory. I personally love SLT because it can be eaten any time of the day, its hot, its cheap, and SLT restaurants don’t get all freaked out if you come to eat by yourself. I probably eat SLT for dinner 3 times a week, so I know a good SLT when I see one!
Ha-dong-kwan is the most famous SLT restaurant in Korea and by most accounts also the best. This restaurant even has a website in Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese, that’s pretty bad ass! But because it’s so popular, it has become more of a tourist attraction than a restaurant.
Since there is usually a line out the door and so much customer turnover, you have to pay before you sit down. Finding a seat is survival of the fittest or fastest and once you sit down at the small tables, you are literally bumping elbows with strangers. Also the interior is dimly lit and badly in need of renovation.
Everyone gets a mini plate of kimchi, doesn’t it just screams customer service! You can probably ask for more but good luck finding a worker that is not busy. It was pretty good though, haha!
They have a regular SLT for KRW 10,000 but I ordered the “special” for KRW 12,000, which is like super sizing your value meal. The first thing I noticed is the tripe, the ugly black strips, because I have never seen tripe used in SLT. I’m not a big fan of tripe, so I wish I had known you can ask to substitute tripe for more beef.
Maybe it was the tripe because the flavor of the broth was so amazingly good! Aside from the broth everything else was blase. The beef strips were too thin and had no bite. Again, I’m not a big fan of tripe but I still ate all mine. I thought they were a little stingy with the amount of rice. After the meal, I did not feel full even though I had paid 2 extra bucks to super size my SLT.
On your way out this is where you can grab a cup of water, remember to place the used cups to the right. It really made me feel like a valued customer!
I want to reiterate that this is a tourist attraction and not a restaurant. Like most tourist attractions you should come here one time but there’s no need to visit twice. Their broth is truly something special but that’s the only thing going for this place.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (only because the broth was that good)
Hadongkwan: in Myeong-dong