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By Way of Korea

South Korea   |   New York

A Korean food blog and travelogue inspired by

an epicurious New Yorker's journey around South Korea


By Way of Korea: Grilled Pork (Bulkkoji) & Mackerel in the "Grilled Fish Alley" (Dongdaemun, Seoul)

Updated: May 15, 2019

Setting out for Yongsan Station to catch the next train to Jeonju, we walked right into the unmistakable smell of the Grilled Fish Alley. Dak-hanmari and Grilled Fish Alley mostly overlap and can be called by either name interchangeably depending on what you're there to eat.

Each time I make a trip down this alley for some good fish-fry or chicken, I see the sajangnim of Songjeong Sikdang quietly practicing his craft outside his restaurant. And as anticipated, he was there today. Flanked by piles of grilled mackerel and containers of pork, the sajangnim stood at his grilling station flipping a gridiron full of meat over a charcoal fire. The restaurant is as famous for its smokey bul-kko-ji (불꼬지/charcoal grilled pork bulgogi) as it is for its grilled geodeungeo (mackerel) and samchi (Spanish mackerel). The restaurant uses the term 'cho-beol-gui' (초벌구이) to describe how the bulkkoji is grilled before it is finished over a charcoal fire to give it its beloved smokey flavor.

Nothing on the menu exceeds 8,000 won (about $7.00), including the bulkkoji baekban which generously comes with a plate of the smokey pork, a fried egg, kimchi, soondubu jjigae, a bowl of rice, and shredded radish, lettuce, ssamjang, and raw garlic for ssam. Another popular dish is the kimchi-odeng bokkeum.

Seating is very limited at Songjeong Sikdang (four, two-person tables on the ground floor and a few more squeezed into the attic), so you might have to wait on line if you go during peak lunch hours. The turnover is pretty quick though.



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"If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel - as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them - wherever you go."

Anthony Bourdain's unmatched relish for adventure and humble approach to food, cultures, and humanity left an indelible impression on my younger self. Imparting on me the courage to veer into the unknown, he inspired me to embrace my vulnerabilities and seek adventures and growth beyond the comforts of home.


In July of 2017, I boarded a one-way flight to Seoul, South Korea. Within the first week of arrival, I signed a lease for an apartment and by the end of August, I had accepted a job offer that relocated me to Pyeongchang and Gangneung, where the Winter Olympics were soon to be held. From there, I had the rare opportunity to explore much of the greater Gangwon Province's beautiful mountainous and coastal regions and their distinctive foods. Once or twice a month, I'd return to Seoul or travel to an unfamiliar region to poke around alleyways, markets, and mountains in search of more good eats and adventures.


By Way of Korea is a storytelling project inspired by the food, places, and faces I encountered throughout Korea. By sharing my fondest memories, notes, and images of Korea, I simply hope to play a small part in piquing greater curiosity about Korean food and culture in my readers.  My content will heavily spotlight, but not be limited to Korean food and culture. 

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