Gwangjang market in Jongno, Seoul is already well-known for various types of Korean food vendors. There is a designated place in the market where you can try Korean foods like Bindaeddeok (빈대떡; Korean pancake), Kimbap (김밥; Korean sushi roll), Bibimbap (비빔밥; rice topped with veggies), and Patjuk (팥죽; red bean soup).
The most popular among those is Yukhoe (육회; Korean steak tartare). When Koreans think of Gwangjang market, they automatically think of Yukhoe. It’s that popular. I would say that Yukhoe is the representative food of Gwangjang.
Yukhoe restaurants are located side by side together as you see it in the picture above. The Yukhoe street is near the place where many food vendors are. If you can’t find the street, you can ask people around you by saying “Yukhoe Golmok (육회골묵).”
You got here but now you don’t know where to go? Well, I didn’t know either so I asked an old lady who was selling vegetables near the street where we should go. She told me that all were pretty similar, so just follow where your feet lead.
So I did. I ended up going to a Yukhoe restaurant called Changshin Yukhoe (창신육회).
It was full of people even though I went there on a weekday at 3pm. (Since it is business hours, most restaurants don’t have customers at that time.) A server brought us side dishes and bowls of beef soup. Of course you can ask for more for free
Here is the Yukhoe we ordered. It is the basic one which costs 12,000 KRW. I shared it with my friend. Some places give you frozen Yukhoe which is cold and hard, but Yukhoe here was fresh, tender, and chewy. The best Yukhoe in my life!
If they use poor quality beef, they must have put lots of seasoning to hide the smell and the bad quality. However, this place did not use much seasoning, which shows their confidence in the quality. The meat itself was so delicious that you don’t need much seasoning.
At the bottom, there is sliced pear. One of the reasons that Yukhoe comes with pear is that pear helps with digesting beef. Another reason would be to add a sweet flavor. How to eat it? Super easy. Just mix them all together with chopsticks and eat the meat and pear together. It is savory and a little sweet.
Yukhoe is considered an Anju (안주; food that you eat with alcohol) and Koreans drink Soju (소주; a type of Korean alcohol) when they eat it. It might be good to try Yukhoe with Soju to fully experience the Korean food culture.
Here is a short clip showing how to mix Yukhoe with chopsticks