It’s one of the oldest conundrums there is; can you replicate the success of a much-loved local food landmark on a national, even global, scale? The owners of Starbuck’s Coffee in the Pike Place Market in Seattle found that you could; the experience of Bennigan’s in Korea, though, suggests that it is fraught with risks. We’re about to get another experiment played out in real time on the streets of Seoul. Read on…
Readers occasionally complain that I don’t write about enough places outside the Itaewon “bubble” – a bit unfair (as a quick look at my Seoul food map page will demonstrate), though I do see their point. Well, today I am reviewing a restaurant so far out of the city that I won’t even attempt to put it on the map; the mighty Sweet Oak in far-flung Wonju.
El Pino is a well-known landmark in East Los Angeles, and despite being open for just a couple of weeks, its namesake El Pino 323 is already well on the way to becoming an equally notable landmark of the Seoul food scene. Opening officially last weekend, hidden in a basement near a little-frequented subway station on line 5, this takeaway-turned-restaurant is dishing up some of the most authentic and certainly best, Cali-Mex food that you’ll find anywhere outside the 323 L.A. area code.
[UPDATE, JULY 2017: This location has now closed, with El Pino reopening near Noksapyeong Station. Please see my new review for details.]
The humble Philly cheesesteak takes two of my favourite things – steak and cheese – and puts them into a sandwich for easy consumption. What’s not to like?
Up till now my go-to place for Philly cheesesteak has usually been Rye Post in Itaewon, which does a more than serviceable version. American Mood may be better.
It’s been very busy in the real world of Soju Sunrise, but things are quietening down so hopefully I’ll be posting some more reviews and notes on Seoul eateries very soon. In the meantime, here are some of the things I’ve been eating over the last few weeks. (You can see most of these pics, as well as many more, on my Instagram feed at instagram.com/sojusunrise.)