Originally reviewed on May 7, 2020
|한글 🇰🇷||ENGLISH 🇺🇸|
|이태리부대찌개 낙성대점||Italy [style] Army Stew, Naksongdae Main Office|
|Korean Won 🇰🇷||United States Dollar 🇺🇸|
Price is a rough average per head, excluding drinks.
There is a daily break time from 4:00PM-5:00PM. The restaurant closes and prepares for dinner service during this time, as the menu varies slightly.
This place is unlisted on Google Maps due recently opening; it is at the above marker.
Seoul Seek Recommendations
- 👑 Signature
- ✅ Counting Calories
- 🌶️ Spicy
|한글 🇰🇷||English 🇺🇸||Price 💵|
|부대전골 (2인분)||Army Stew (for 2) 👑🌶️||₩18,000|
|우삼겹사리||5-layer-fat Pork Brisket||₩8,000|
|파인애플맛 환타||Pineapple Fanta||₩2,000|
There are many variations of the stew, but just go with the OG. The brisket is a luxury, and isn't needed. The dumplings are measured by the handful, not count.
The goal of this chain is to combine so-called Italian flavors into a timeless Korean staple, army stew. Appealing to the ear at first, you'll find out that it literally just means they use purple rice and offer butter packets.
It may sound satirical, but it works. Whether it's truly blending Italian flavors is another argument, but it's neither here nor there.
This is a great chain; very clean, reliable staff, and high quality product offer a great stress reliever if you're wanting to indulge once in a while. This is a high calorie meal, and is essentially a fancy take on what is very much an everything in the fridge and the kitchen sink, too type stew.
The claim that this was eaten all the time in military camps may have been valid 30 years ago, but not so much these days; it has been replaced by the standard MRE-type meal, although for nostalgia and past-time purposes, it is still commonplace. Due to gochujang (Korean chili paste) being a base, it is classified as a stew instead of a soup.
We've eaten at this chain twice during our journey, and this is the more remote Naksongdae (Gwanak) location which we visited just as they opened. Expect a related review of the Jamsil location we visited beforehand, which is more friendly, both for visitors and by location.
You should be fine using the Google Maps location above; there's no secret passages you need to take to get here. Simply watch the map and look for a spot with the following banner outside (year-round).
You'll notice some plastic rainbow arches; that signifies that a restaurant has recently opened. Out of sight are grand-opening wishes which are traditionally a large floral-like arrangement with ribbons wishing good luck to the owners or staff, sent in by family and friends.
Didn't include interior pics; was packed and didn't want to capture random people peacefully eating.
Cooking the Food
The simmering of this soup is a point that is oft-overlooked by other people who review Korean food or attempt to make this at home. It is critical that you let this simmer for a minimum of 5-7 minutes past the point that you see in the picture above. Why? The flavors need time to settle and penetrate both the meat and the dumplings.
A large part of why this meal is so savory and doesn't necessarily need side dishes (although they are offered) is because the stew becomes incredibly thick the longer you simmer it, almost a thin porridge if done correctly, and it is divine.
Perhaps gross or nasty to those who have never considered putting these traditionally sandwich-only meats into a stew before, the Korean army stew (with an Italian flare) is something that everyone must try once, bias aside.
It is very hearty, and these places are extremely casual. Popular amongst both high school and college kids for a quick go-to during a night out, whether it's after a few drinks or just to gather, it has remained one of the iconic dishes of Korean cuisine for more than three decades.
In a way, it is a dish of pride. A product that was born out of poverty has, like many Korean dishes, become a common answer to what's for dinner. You'll find that the more you research Korean cuisine, the more you'll find older folks resonating with this sense of pride, which influences trends within the space. It may not apply so much to the younger crowd, though.
This is our favorite chain for army stew, and it is in part due to the butter on the rice. As much as it appeared to be an eye-roll approach to fusing two cuisines, it works, and it works well.
The several times we've gone to this chain, it has been very chill and calm. The interiors are spacious and you are not knee-to-knee like in many similar stew spots.
This soup is spicy, but nothing you couldn't handle if you're a pepper head or like spicy foods. Even if it is a bit too spicy for you, simply cut it with the rice and butter.
Just make sure to limit the butter packs; we're all on a "diet"... right?