Taste of Home Near SNU (Seoul National University)

When studying abroad, especially in Korea, finding good food is not hard at all! Specifically, around Seoul National University campus and SNU Station, there are hundreds, if not thousands of businesses, half of which are restaurants. The challenge arises though when you begin to feel a bit homesick and crave food from home. As a Chinese American, home means more than simply a location, home is heritage, and home is where my roots are. Being raised in Philadelphia, home to multiple cultures, diverse food is something I am very used to. Chinese-style cooking, Italian dishes on special occasions, a greasy yet delicious comfort meal, or even a mixed salad with fresh ingredients from Aldi are what I would call “home”.

Growing up on home-cooked Chinese foods, I was so relieved to have found a restaurant, 충칭마라훠궈(Chong Qing Ma La Huo Guo, which is literally translated to “Mala Hotpot from Chongqing”). Stumbling upon this restaurant was quite an accident, and the dish I first tried was nothing related to Ma or La (In Chinese, 麻 ‘Má’ = Numbing, 辣 ‘là’ = Spicy). What I ordered was simple Tomatoes and eggs over rice, an extremely common dish I used to cook in the U.S.  Granted that Korea is much closer to China than America is, the Chinese food was quite authentic.

After finishing my meal, I proceeded to ask the 사장님 (Owner) whether she was Chinese or spoke any Mandarin, as my language proficiency in Mandarin far exceeded that of my Korean. That night I learned the history of the Korean-Japanese War from the perspective of the granddaughter of a Korean soldier who retreated into China from Korea while defending his country. Apparently, descendants of those Korean soldiers are given South Korean citizenship rights! From that day on, the restaurant was my go-to restaurant whenever I felt homesick or wanted to take a break from reciting my Korean food ordering vocabulary. At the time of writing this blog, I’ve been here at least seven times mostly eating things that were Ma La.

As Korea is extremely hilly and mountainous, and walking is so prevalent, an average of 15,000 steps a day is well expected. Though this may seem like the perfect scenario to lose weight, the amount of delicious food you can find around completely counteracts all the calories burned from walking. One restaurant that caught my eye on my first day in Korea for the wrong reason was 어메이징디 (Amazing D) An amazing diet dish is their selling point, but what kept me going back was the beautiful presentation and delicious combinations of the food. If you are looking for a delicious salad while abroad in Korea, check out Amazing D!

One notable place to eat that would fill your pasta cravings would be 문득 (Mun Deuk), where you would find a fusion of Korean and Italian cuisine. I would consider this restaurant as a tiny powerhouse, where they only seat around 10 people at a time… yet would have a long queue during dinner hours. A notable chain restaurant where you could fill a burger craving would be Frank Burger, right next door to Amazing D! The burgers here are quite succulent and most similar to a burger you could get at Shake Shack compared to any other burger place near SNU.

All in all, if you are craving meals of your specific ethnicity, you can most definitely find them here in Korea. There are many options near SNU, however, Itaewon would be the best place to go… if you are willing to take a train for 40+ minutes. So for those gloomy homesick days, feel free to go to any of the places I listed above!

Bonus! Korean words of the week: (Parenthesis is how I spell out the pronunciation and is subjective.)

사장님 (Sah – Jang – Neem) = Boss or Store Owner

물 (Moo-rle) = Water

So, if I say, 사장님 물 주세요, that would mean, “Hey Boss! Could I have some water please?”

주세요 = Please (Covered in my first blog Linked Here☺️)

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