Andong Gwan: Food for all palates
Andong Gwan ("Andong Place") is one of many restaurants on Restaurant Road / Food Street. It has a large variety of Korean dishes, going from mild rice dishes to spicy meats. Menus are provided with English translations.
Favorite Dish: The Yeongbang bibimbab was good, as was the udon noodles.
Chaesik Sarang: Pure Vegetarian in Andong!
This is a small but clean and friendly restaurant serving tasty pure vegetarian meals. The food is generally Korean, but there are also veggie burgers and steaks available. Being the only such restaurant in the province, there is a small but loyal clientele, who are all too happy to meet foreigners.
Favorite Dish: The mushroom stew (peosot jeongul) is delicious and hearty. It is a spicy stew loaded with mushrooms, vegetables, dumplings, rice cakes and more. It comes in three sizes, with the small easily feeding 3 people.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Keumgangsan: Where's the beef? Right here!
This is the place where you take people to impress them . . .it is very upscale, with prices to match. Not only do they claim only to serve beef only from Korea, it's all from Andong. Since the beef from Andong is fairly reknowned in Korea, that's quite something. Like most kalbi places in Korea, you'll do the grilling yourself over a charcoal grill set into the table as you enjoy the best beef on offer in Korea.
Favorite Dish: All the cuts of beef on offer here are excellent. Personally, I found the raw beef mixed with asian pear wonderful, along with the sweet rice drink served after the meal concluded (not shikhye, swore all my companions, but very similar)
Heot Jesa Bap: Fake Rice for Dead People ...
Many Koreans all over the country hold traditional confucian memorial services (jesa) for their ancestors. As part of the ceremony, a large variety of foods are "served" to the dead, and afterwards to the living participants. Obviously this means that few visitors to Korea get a chance to sample this particular cuisine . . .
However, visitors to Andong can take advantage of what is the only place in the country that serves this food.
Favorite Dish: Heotjesabap (literally "fake ancestral ceremony rice") is a combination of fried and steamed vegetables, meat, and fish, along with bibimbap (mixed rice) sans the gochujang (red pepper sauce - but for chiliheads who can't manage without it, there is some provided on request). The whole affair is served on brassware like that used by many Koreans in jesa.
Andong Kankodeungo: Salted Mackeral, Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!
Another local specialty in Andong is the salted mackeral (andong kankodeungo). It sounds strange, but it's really very tasty! You can cook it several different ways, but the most common are pan fried or in a spicy soup. Mmmmm, delicious! Give it a try . . .there are restaurants all over town, including one on the food/culture street (look for the big fish, you can't miss it!) and a very good place by Andong Dam.
Favorite Dish: I'm partial to the pan-fried mackeral . . .the outside gets crispy, while the inside is moist. It tastes salty, but it's a pleasant saltiness and doesn't overwhelm your tastebuds. The soup version is fantastic but spicy enough to make most weigook eyes water.
- Food and Dining
Agio: No salted mackeral tonight, honey . . .
Agio is a small "Italian" pasta restaurant/ coffee shop that has a modest selection of pastas, side dishes, and drinks. The food is decent and the ambiance nice, and there aren't many options in Andong for non-Korean food. In addition to pasta, pizza, and doria (the holy trinity ^^) there's also a small selection of Korean side dishes ("dried squid with your lasagna, miss?") . There's bottled and draft beer, and a modest selection of wine. Avoid the house wines though - the white was like vinegar and the red like fruit punch that's been in the fridge a bit too long. Main dishes come with salad and coffee or tea.
Favorite Dish: Spaghetti Carbonara isn't really what it says, but it *is* a lovely cream sauce with bacon and cracked pepper. Very rich and lovely! The tea selection is excellent, and everything is brewed from loose leaf, not from a bag. They have several kinds, including English Breakfast, Ceylong, Assam, etc. making a refreshing change from weak and silly Korean coffees.
- Study Abroad
- Budget Travel
Andong Soju: Local Firewater
You can find soju, a clear distilled bellyrot similar to vodka, everywhere in Korea. Andong has it's own special version of the drink though that's substantially different from what you'll get everywhere else. First, it has roughly twice the alcohol, between 80-90 proof. Second, it has a distinctive sour taste. It may take a while to get used to it, but I now like it much more than regular soju. You can pick up a bottle for as little as 4,000 won (about $3.50) but the best stuff is the "folk Andong soju" sold in the white narrow-necked bottles for about 20,000-30,000 won per bottle. It makes a great present for Koreans outside of the Andong area, if you need to bring something to your friends. If you're really excited about soju, you can visit the Soju Museum on the far side of the river from downtown.
Mammoth Bakery: If Kimchi for Breakfast Doesn't Suit You . . .
Mammoth is a huge bakery off the main square downtown, featuring a staggering number of pastries, breads, and baked goods. You'll find more real bread here and less of the super-sweet Korean concoctions (although you can get your patbbang here also) than at most bakeries in Korea. Their cakes in particular deserve notice for being MUCH better than average. As if this weren't enough, they have a small cafeteria with very decent sandwiches (REAL cheese!), coffee and juice, and chocolates. Unlike most bakeries, there's also seating, and an outdoor patio. Most prices here are slightly above average, but merit the difference.
Favorite Dish: The baked goods here are generally a cut above other Korean bakeries, but the cakes (available by the slice) are much better than the norm. Sandwiches are often reasonable fascimilies of what you would eat in America if you ignore the sweet pickles. Coffee is mostly average, but the expresso and cappuccino are quite decent. The juice is excellent. Chocolates here are amazing compared to what's normally available in Korea.
Andong's two culinary claims to fame are salted mackerel, and a spicy chicken dish called jjimdak . . .now, which sounds better to you? There are jjimdak restaurants all over Korea, but this is where it originated. It consists of chicken, cellophane noodles, onions, rice cake, sweet potatoes, and a sweet and spicy soy based sauce.
Favorite Dish: There are lots of restaurants where you can get jjimdak, but the best ones are on the west side of the downtown area, in the market area. Just look for any place with chicken corpses and large iron pots out front. They're mostly sketchy looking joints, but the food is perfectly safe and VERY delicious. Jjimdak is almost universally priced between 10,000 and 15,000 won ($8-10) and will feed two to four people with ease.