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[Gourmet] Sinil restaurant in Insa-dong, Seoul

Posted January. 19, 2001 19:37,   


Most Koreans can eat a bowl of rice with only "kochujang¡¯¡¯ (hot pepper paste) as a side dish, if the kochujang tastes good. Really outstanding kochujang is available at a restaurant located in the narrow back alley in "Mary¡¯s Alley¡¯¡¯ of Insa-dong, downtown Seoul. It is Sinil Restaurant.

A daughter of the owner of Ujong Restaurant in Sunchang, North Cholla Province, famous for over three decades for its kochujang, married a Seoul man and opened Sinil. Sunchang is the home of kochujang production.

Cooks from the Ujong Restaurant, which is renowned for making "kochujang jangachi¡¯¡¯ or dried slices of radish seasoned with kochujang, made kochujang for Sinil in the "Kuchujang Complex¡¯¡¯ in Sunchang.

Besides kochujang, Sinil boasts various kinds of kochujang jangachi of radish, garlic, persimmon, kulbi or dried croaker and dodok (codonopsis lanceolata), pickled fresh water shrimp, hair-tail, clams and gizzard shad as its side dishes.

There are only nine tables in the restaurant, but the menu lists a diverse range of dishes.

"Doenjang (bean paste) cchigae (6,000 won), recommended as lunch, is served with grilled hair-tail, jangachi, boiled sliced pork served with Korean cabbage, "baechu,¡¯¡¯ pickled seafoods, seasoned vegetables, kimchi and kochujang.

The 10,000 won-table d¡¯hote includes the doenjang cchigae menu with the addition of an assortment of grilled foods, seasoned skate, steamed egg, kulbi and lettuce and other leaves for wrapping rice.

The 20,000 won-table d¡¯hote needs prior notice because "samhap¡¯¡¯ (the combination of a slice of skate, a slice of bacon and kimchi), raw beef and crabs preserved in soybean sauce are served together.

Other dishes recommended include "kongnamul (bean sprout) soup boiled with stale kimchi that maintains its original taste for three years because it is made with boiled beef bone soup and seasoned with pickled shrimps (7,000 won), hard-boiled hair-tail table d¡¯hote (10,000 won), pork grilled on a stone plate (7,000 won) and blue crabs preserved in soybean sauce (18,000 won).

As side dishes for soju or other liquors, there is mixed "pulgogi¡¯¡¯ of pork and small squids (20,000 won), broiled seasoned Korean beef tenderloin (20,000 won) and raw beef seasoned with kochujang (30,000 won). Sinil opens from 11 a.m. through 10 p.m. everyday. You may have to wait to be seated because it has only nine tables. For further information call 02-739-5548.

Kim Jae-Chan, dentist