Here is part 2 of the Gyeondian Groove article
Just a bit further from Geo’s, around the corner and to the left, you’ll come to Hwang To. Judging by the tables full of couples and groups of friends it’s a popular place. So popular that getting a table wasn’t doable. Instead, just across the street, The Library beckoned with a 6 to 8 pm happy hour that couldn’t be passed up.
Inside The Library it’s all red and black table tops, exposed pipes, and a deconstructed disco ball on the back wall, giving the place an industrial feel.
The service was spot on, though being the only customers most likely helped. They make sure you’re taken care of and don’t hover. The Library offers wireless internet and will even take your ipod and hook it up to their sound system. There’s also a big screen TV for premier sports league games.
The menu offers standard bar snacks with a few appetizers. You can order up a Caesar salad, nachos or yellow peaches. Prices vary from 5,000Won to 10,000won. A free coffee comes with every order, but if you need something stronger. The bar has beer, wine, liqueurs, and whisky stocked.
The Library’s motto is “stay as long as you could.” So, if you do have to go then cross the street and check out Hattori Kitchen. First, right off, the space is small to the point of being cramped but from that first step inside you know it’s not your momma’s izakaya. Eighties Korean music plays in the background. Traditional Japanese masks adorn the walls along with random Polaroid pictures, calligraphy, and an array of international currencies. Hattori Kitchen definitely has an artsy vibe going on which culminates in the kinetic ball of charm and whimsy of the owner, Jiyung Sohn.
She bounces behind the long wooden sushi style bar, wide eyed and smiling, chatting away with customers while chopping vegetables and preparing dishes. After studying in Japan, she returned to Korea inspired to open her own unique izakaya. She ran into a maze of obstacles until finally securing a bank loan. Hattori Kitchen opened its doors in July of 2008 and has been welcoming customers ever since. The crowd during the week tends to be chic couples in their fifties and sixties. On the weekends twenty and thirty somethings take over.
Miss Sohn has a trendy spot perfect for an evening with friends or a date. The lively mood matches the innovative menu. Every night, except for two signature dishes, she changes the menu. On Monday you may find yourself dining on salmon herb yaki only to be sitting down to deep fried tortillas or whole steamed octopus on Tuesday. She keeps her customers surprised and, if her ever changing kaleidoscopes of dishes are as tasty as her mainstays, eager to return. The udong salad combines perfectly cooked udong noodles, shrimp, and a medley of fresh vegetables all in a sesame dressing. It’s a light, cool dish suitable for a hot summer night. The sea bream belly teriyaki makes a great accompaniment. The caramelized glaze adds just the right amount of sweetness to the moist cuts of fish. Even if you aren’t the adventurous type Hattori Kitchen’s signature dishes will leave you craving for whet your appetite to explore the more exotic dishes. Though, you’re wallet may not love you afterwards your stomach certainly will.
On Gyeondian Street fabulous restaurants await not only your first arrival but also your return visit, because one taste just isn’t enough. From simple tasty lunches to sumptuous savory dishes it’s all there for the choosing.
Itaewon Dong (Kyung-Lidan)
Geo’s Phillys Cheese Steak
Hattori Kitchen, 225-94 Itaewong, Youngsan Gu; 011-82-02-792-1975