Note from Andy: for some time now, I’ve been interested in the idea of chatting with chefs and owners around Seoul to see what makes them tick, what their backstory is, and where they want to go with their food in the future. A recent assignment for Groove magazine on the newly-opened Morococo Café in Haebangchon gave me the impetus to do this interview, an abridged version of which will appear in the April issue. I hope to run more such interviews in the future.
Wahid Naciri was born and brought up in Rabat, the capital of Morocco. He has two restaurants in Haebangchon – the long-established Casablanca Sandwicherie and the newly opened Morococo Café – serving a mixture of spicy sandwiches, shakshukas, tagines and the like.
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!
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.)
One of things I miss about living in the leafy West End of Glasgow is the idea of a neighborhood bistro – somewhere near your house that you can drop in for a good, reasonably priced meal, usually Italian or French. Now, perhaps I’m biased because it’s 90 seconds from my front door (it used to be 60 seconds, but the crabby old halmoni next door has locked her gate to stop us using the alleyway outside her house as a short cut). But La Marmite, a new French restaurant in Haebangchon, looks like it might be able to fill that role. It comes at a price, as we’ll see, but it’s well worth your time.
The cafe opposite Bonny’s Pizza has undergone more changes than David Bowie in his pomp. For a long time it was the home of the late lamented Indigo, a veritable Haebangchon institution. More recently it morphed into Good to Go, briefly housed the popular Italian restaurant Il Gattino, and then became Fat Cat, before adding a very shortlived “food truck” counter serving up sandwiches and subs to the late-night crowd.
Such is the pace of change in Haebangchon, the little favela I have called home for nearly five years, that I’m a bit jaded by the plethora of new places around here and Gyeongnidan that open up, serve mediocre or baffling food, and then close a year or so later. So when a small restaurant pops up that’s selling good-quality, honest and non-bullshitty food, it’s worth giving it a little love.