The burritos, burgers and chilli bowls of Gyeongnidan’s Cali Kitchen have been a vital source of sustenance for many of us for a couple of years now; come rain or shine, owner Chuck Chun has been serving up a taste of California since mid-2015.
Having outgrown the original space behind Maloney’s pub, Chuck closed down operations during the spring of 2017 in order to bring his new concept to reality. It’s been an agonising wait for some of us, but with the partial help of a Kickstarter campaign to help them over the line, to which I contributed a small amount (does that make me an investor? are royalty cheques about to come flooding in? I can dream…), the newly rebranded California Kitchen and Craft Pub officially opens today after a short soft opening, and I’m pleased to say that it’s a winner.
I’ve never really “got” chicken wings. Yes, I like chicken and I guess I enjoy eating the wings, and they certainly go well with a cold beer, but I can’t really imagine going to a place specifically to eat them. “Wing nites” leave me cold. They are a quintessentially American food; I was once driven an hour and a half across Pennsylvania to eat chicken wings, and I thought (and still think) that the nice people who drove me there were also a little crazy.
Even on the sunniest of summer Seoul days, it isn’t exactly easy to close your eyes and imagine yourself on a Jamaican beach with the sand between your toes. At Trenchtown, a new Caribbean rum bar and restaurant in Itaewon, they’re doing their best to help you try.
I probably spend as much time drinking as I do eating, but as this blog focuses mostly on restaurants I don’t tend to blog (or Instagram) my boozy exploits very much. (Also, I have a public image to uphold!) It would be remiss of me, though, not to comment on a great little bar that opened up in the last weeks of 2016 in the back streets of Itaewon.
I recently realized that to my genuine surprise I’d never written about one of my favourite places in the city, and certainly my favourite place to get a cocktail, the mighty Mix&Malt. Anyone who follows my Instagram knows that I spend far too much time and money there, but for those who don’t and are somehow still out of the loop, here are my top five reasons to hop a bus, subway or taxi up to Hyehwa.
Here it is, the most eagerly awaited post of the year; the second annual Soju Sunrise Food Awards, showcasing the best foreign food that I think Seoul has to offer. No doubt squadrons of restaurateurs are reading this with fear in their souls, whole chains poised to collapse if they aren’t mentioned in my year-end review. What can I say? With great power comes great responsibility.
As with last year’s favourites – quite a few of whom return this year – I don’t present this list as a definitive “best of” but rather a compilation of my favourites, the places I return to again and again, the places that made 2016 worth persevering with. No doubt in each category there are better places around, and you should feel free to set me right in the comments – but these are the places that pop up again and again on my Instagram feed.
Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and see you all in 2017!