Is it sad to say that we had been in South Korea for over a week and a half and never stayed out past 9pm? I’m serious! We wake us early (at first because of the jet lag) and just get tired relatively early every night. With only a couple days left in Seoul, we were determined to stay out.
We finally made our way to the Hongdae area at night! Hongdae is short for HongIk DaeHak (University), and the area around the University is known for its night life (which is much more casual compared to Gangnam).
Where (Phone Number and Address):
서울특별시 마포구 동교동 163-7
Seoul Mapo-gu Donggyo 163-7
Click here for a Map and directions
Three hungry (and tired) girls went in search for something soupy for dinner. We walked right into an Udon shop (yes, it is Japanese and not Korean but it’s close enough). After walking in, we realized that the menu was posted on above the counter (there was no English, but luckily with pictures). The waiter dude probably saw that we were a little (maybe a lot) confused and handed us a smaller menu to look at. It is basically a self serve Udon shop or to me it’s like going to a cafeteria (but a lot cuter) where you just get in line with a tray and start ordering (or grabbing) your food off the counter and then pay at the end. We could barely really figure out what we were ordering much less figure out how this worked, but here is how I think it works.
1. Order you Udon
After staring at the pictures on the menu, I picked out a beef udon with a poached egg. Of course there were more options and the cook asked us: big or small (small), hot or cold (cold). As I waited for my udon, he suddenly asked if I could wait a couple more minutes. That was when I realized that the udon noodles were freshly made right there (that’s awesome, it’s not the pre packaged stuff I’ve always had). Yunti and V each got a bowl of pork udon.
He boiled up the noodles right there, placed it in my bowl (let it cool down a little bit), poured soup over my udon noodles, added beef, cracked a poached egg over my udon noodles, and placed my bowl on my tray.
2. Pick up some Tempura and Onigiri
The cook motioned to my left where I saw various types of tempura and rice balls (onigiri). I had to remind myself that it was not a buffet (the little price tags helped) as I walked down the way staring at each item. I picked out some to just try. I got a couple Inari (rice wrapped in a fried bean curd skin), and sweet potato tempura.
For three bowls of udon and sides (2 pieces of inari and 1 sweet potato tempura we paid 24,500KRW.
We made one more stop before finally sitting down to eat. That is to add (all for free) seasoning or toppings to our bowl of udon noodles and dipping sauce for our tempura or onigiri. I topped my bowl with a little bit of green onions and tempura crumbs. And being in Korea, they had some pickled radish as a side.
5. Find a Table and EAT!
I really don’t know if I was just hungry, but that udon was amazing. The fresh udon was just slippery enough for me to slurp up and perfectly al dente. The broth was flavorful, with plenty of meat, and my poached egg was cooked just right (it was fun seeing them crack that egg in my bowl right in front of me).
I did a little bit of research about Marugame Udon afterwards, and found that this place is a chain of Udon restaurants in Japan (and they have restaurants in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hawaii, and Russia). They’re known to be a good budget udon shop.