Located in Mannyeon-dong, behind the popular buffet Vesta, is Daenamoo Korea Restaurant. Famous for their hanjeongsik, the Korean table d’hote, the restaurant specializes in steamed bamboo rice and lotus leaf rice. The KAIST Herald visited the restaurant for a flavorful meal.
The restaurant is on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building. Its classic, spacious interior greets visitors as they step into the restaurant, and offers both floor and chair seats. The woody floors and tables match well with their bamboo theme, and the unique decorations have a classic Korean touch. The ambience of the restaurant was calm and warm at the same time, formal enough for a meal with a professor while relaxing enough to have a wholesome meal with friends. The main hanjeongsik menu consists of the standard bamboo/lotus leaf jeongsik at 15,000 KRW, ddeokgalbi (marinated minced beef patty) jeongsik at 18,000 KRW, smoked duck jeongsik at 20,000 KRW and sanjuk special jeonsik at 25,000 KRW. Minimum order is two portions, and all jeongsik menus are inclusive of the bamboo/lotus leaf rice. Other than the set menus, smoked duck, ddeokgalbi, sashimi salad, bamboo steamed pork, and cold noodles are offered as a la carte.
The menu we ordered was the ddeokgalbi jeongsik, which serves the Korean style beef patty on top of the standard bamboo/lotus leaf jeongsik menu. We were first served with small black sesame porridge as an appetizer, and out came the swarm of main dishes by the time we were finished with the porridge. Excluding the porridge and the ddeokgalbi itself, a total of 15 dishes were served. The main ingredients of the dishes served were very balanced, and we were able to taste not only unique vegetable dishes but also meat and seafood dishes. All dishes were well seasoned and delicious, and many added a different touch compared to other Korean restaurants. The most memorable dishes were sashimi salad/wrap and steamed skate. The former dish had sashimi tossed in sour and spicy sauce, along with crunchy vegetables that gave a contrasting texture to the sashimi. Sesame leaf and fish roe were served along with it so that the dish can be eaten in a wrap-style as well. The latter dish, which was very similar to steamed stingray, was extremely moist and soft. It was very easy to eat and the spicy sauce that was served on top of the fish gave it just the right amount of weight and flavor to accommodate the taste of the fish.
The never-ending main dishes stopped when the main dish, the ddeokgalbi, was served. The Korean style marinated beef patty was grilled just enough without losing much moisture, and was served with grilled onions and enoki mushroom. It was marinated just enough to give the extra flavor to the meat, and the taste was not too overpowering to eat with other dishes. Just about when the dishes are finished, the second part of the meal is served. The second part consists of five side dishes, a soup, and the rice of your choice between bamboo and lotus leaf. It was served on a weaved tray that gave it a very home-style feel. The bamboo rice was cooked with dates, chestnut, glutinous rice, black rice as well as pine leaves, and these ingredients harmoniously blended with the bamboo to give the rice a very pleasant fragrance. Eating out of the bamboo stalk proved to be an unique experience. The side dishes that came with the rice were a good variety to enjoy with the rice, and not too salty to eat alone as well.
Overall, it was easy to see why the restaurant became famous for their hanjeongsik. With a wide variety of delicious dishes served, the meal was a great value for the price we paid, and the restaurant’s great ambience was the cherry on the cake. The restaurant’s formality and the standard of menus served make it a place that can be visited with anyone. Daenamoo Korea Restaurant is five bus stops away from KAIST. It takes approximately 15 minutes after boarding bus 604 from the east gate.