Eatery near Bulguksa: Feast Under a Cherry Tree
If you're going to Bulguksa temple, pop by the small eateries located near the carpark for lunch. There is one restaurant there with an enormous cherry tree so it makes al fresco dining really fun.
Favorite Dish: Everything from the restaurant is good and cheap. I had rice cooked with wild mountain vegetables and kimchee toufu soup in a claypot. Yummy.
Esmerelda Coffee Shop: Great atmosphere for a cup of coffee
We found this little shop downtown in Gyongju. We were looking for somewhere to chill while we waited for our train to leave!
Esmerelda's is a nice little place: warm, smells great, good music (not too loud), and acceptably comfortable chairs. The coffee's good too!
Favorite Dish: Jesse had a caramel cappuccino that was to die for. Jesse wants to go back just to have another one! Instead of adding the caramel as a garnish, the barristas add the caramel to the milk before they steam it, which makes the milk caramel flavoured. Very delicious!
Ho Ban Jang: Lunch on the Lake
We found this place while we were exploring the Bomun Lake area. The restaurant is right down on the water, and it has a nice patio outside. It was fall, so we didn't sit outside, but it looked as if it would be really nice in the summertime.
Inside, the restaurant was huge, although very very empty (not tourist season). There was a stage and it looked as though the restaurant would put on shows or music for the dinner guests.
The food is traditional Korean fare, bugolgi, bibimbap, galbi, and the like. It is quite pricey, but the quality was good, and the service was excellent.
Favorite Dish: Jesse and I tried the bugolgi, which is beef BBQ. It was very good - quality meat, not a lot of fat, well flavoured. The server was at our table cooking it up for us the whole time. The side dishes were good quality, although nothing we were in to.
One neat thing that we almost missed out on is that you are served pumpkin (maybe seasonal) sweet tea after your meal. Our tea was delicious. It tasted like sweet squash and brown sugar. Yum.
Nolboo stew restaurant: Yummy food, grouchy servers
For anybody who likes "chigae," Korean soup or stew, this is THE restaurant chain to visit. Nolboo makes Boodae Chigae, or "Soldiers Stew." (Email me if you want to know the story behind the name) The restaurant in Gyongju is part of a chain that you can find all over Korea.
We have a favorite Nolboo place in Busan, so we were looking forward to trying this one out. Unfortunately, the servers were particularly grouchy, and I don't think that foreigners were a regular sight in their restaurant. The food took longer than normal to arrive, and there was no smile with the service! Jesse finally got a smile when he accidentally knocked a server's tray over and her dishes went all over the floor. Is Korean apologees made her giggle.
Despite the service, the food was still top notch!
Ipongnyo Guri Ssambap Restaurant: More than 30 dishes
Gyeongju cuisine is characterised by two things: bread and ssambap. The row of ssambap restaurants between tumuli Park and Wolseong Park, is Gyeongju's culinary hotspot and where most local coach parties and tour groups go to eat. Iponngnyo Guri is considered to be the best ssambap restaurant in town and it is always packed with families and parties of Korean schoolchildren.
Ssambap consists of more than 30 dishes, including rice, fried fish, pork, kimchi and soup, accompanied by a pile of salad leaves in which to wrap the meat.
There is simply too much food and you will probably find that you can eat no more than half of it.
- Food and Dining
- Road Trip
Hwangnam Bbang: Bbang Bang! Hwangnam Bbang!
Gyeongju is really only famous for one kind of food: Hwangnam bread. This pastry consists of sweet red bean past surrounded by a pastry crust and stamped with a distinctive sunburst design. Even people who don't have much of a desire to eat beanpaste treats usually warm to this stuff - it's delicious, especially if you can get it warm from the oven. There are lots of similar pastries available all over town, usually under the name of "Kyungju/Gyeongju Bbang" but only the stuff from the Hwangnam Bakery is considered the "real deal" by most Koreans, and the Hwangnam bread does taste superior to the other stuff around town.
Favorite Dish: Eat your hwangnam bread warm with milk or tea . . .mmmmmmm, delicious! The bread is available in three different sized boxes, ranging in price from 10,000 won to 25,000 won for a box big enough to feed an army.
- Food and Dining
Galibi Haemul: Simple, yummy, traditional
We enjoyed seafood pajeon and haemul galgaksu - homemade noodles with seafood. Was very nice. If you have arthritic knees and can't sit on the floor, then you may need to give this one a miss.
We ate here before venturing on a hike in Namsan.
Favorite Dish: pajeon and haemul galgaksu - homemade noodles with seafood. It was tasty and extremely filling. Very generous serves. I love the way Koreans serve their food. It's so attractive
- Budget Travel
Cafe Lakeside (in the Hilton): Great Buffet (& serves German during Oktoberfest!)
The Hilton Hotel in Gyeongju has several rather high quality restaurants. The Lakeside Cafe is the Hilton's answer to the all-you-can eat buffet.
The chefs are a mix of Korean and foreign westerners, so the quality of ethnic foods will be truer to the original than you may find outside of Seoul.
During the Spring, Lakeside Cafe serves an all you can eat Italian style buffet.
During the Summer, Lakeside Cafe serves an all you can eat, Hawaiian style buffet.
During the Fall (October), Lakeside cafe serves mostly German cuisine in tribute to Oktoberfest.
Sundays and mid-week are best since the crowds we be less. This offers the staff the possibility of making more difficult selections that they cannot easily offer to the high demand on other days.
Favorite Dish: All dishes are great! There is a mix of Korean foods for those who absolutely cannot live without their rice and kimchi dishes.
But most foreigners will take the opportunity to stuff themselves on the western foods. There are always roasts being served on the cutting block. There are fresh salads of multiple varieties, smoke salmon and other appetizers. Particularly for the Oktoberfest presentation, there is sauerkraut, bratwurst & mustard, wienerschnitzel, apfelstrudel, and many other things!
- Business Travel
Silla Tourist Restaurant: Not attractive Name but...
Turn right as you exit the Tumuli Park, past the Gyeonju Bread shop and souvenir shop and you'll find yourself outside the Silla Tourist Restaurant. The name sounds like a rip off but it's not.
Firstly, there are food displays outside the restaurant (what a saviour) when most other restaurants in Gyeongju only have menus in Korean, and no food displays. When you enter, you get this tingling sensation that you may be ripped off because there are these banners in Japanese words for seafood and what not.
But, I had a bibimbap with raw egg, plus full array of side dishes plus one bottle of local beer and everything cost me W9,000. Not too bad. The price is quite standard for restaurants in Gyeonju I suppose because another evening I had something similar for about the same price in another family owned restaurant.
Food tastes ok to me - I'm not a fussy eater.
Neungpo Tawon: Tea Time
Neugnpo is a delightful traditional teahouse downtown. Housed in an old, traditional style building, the inside is a mix of traditional furniture and modern art, most of which was painted by the owner's husband. What makes this teahouse stand out from the other traditional teahouses is the beautiful art, and the wonderfully friendly owner. This is the perfect place to relax in a traditional and elegant atmosphere. People who come here have a hard time dragging themselves back to the world outside . . .
Favorite Dish: All of the teas available here are excellent, but the owner is infatuated with Chinese tea, so there's always excellent boi cha to be had. If you order any of the Chinese teas you will be treated to a scaled down version of a Chinese tea ceremony. Whatever you order, she'll make sure it's brewed perfectly, and provide plenty of hot water to keep the tea flowing as long as you like. The rice cakes here are also delicious.
- Food and Dining
Asaga Tawon: Tea Time II
An extremely elegant teahouse hidden away, Asaga is a refined sort of place to spend time chatting and sipping tea. Everything will seem more witty and charming in a place like this. Set in a traditional house with a small courtyard outside, and amazing ink paintings on the papered walls inside. The owner is a well known tea ceremony practicioner in Gyeongu.
Favorite Dish: All the teas here are excellent, but the green teas here are especially delicate. Wonderful side dishes like rice cakes and walnuts will come out with your tea, as well. It's tucked away on a side street, so you'll have to look hard to find it, but you'll be rewarded with peace and quiet.
- Food and Dining
I can't recall the name of the restaurant: Extreme Cuisine, Eating Blood Sausages
The surprising thing about this cuisine is that it's called Sundae but of course, it tastes nothing like it.
So what the heck is it??
Well, the small and large intestines of pigs are salted and stuffed with a mixture of pig's blood, rice, green onions, garlic, minced pork, and vermicelli before being steamed. The sausage is sliced when served and some steamed lung and liver slices usually accompany it. It is apparently Gyeongju's specialty as there are two big restaurants in town that serve this. Located a stone's throw from the train station.
Use a toothpick or chopsticks to eat, dabbing each piece in salt to taste.
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