Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jeonju's Famous Cuisine and Too Much Makkoli

After going to the hanok village that I talked about in my first Jeonju post, we headed over to Makkoli Street (막걸리 골목) to find the famed makkoli restaurants that serve makkoli in kettles and provide an abundance of side dishes (안주) for each round of makkoli you order.

There is one very famous makkoli place around here, and we went there first, but because of the size of our group, we would have had to wait too long, so we decided to try the unknown instead.

Makkoli in Jeonju is a bit different from the Seoul type, we had two options; 맑은 막걸리 clear makkoli, or normal makkoli. Here on Makkoli Street, it's served three bottles at a time in kettles for about 12,000 won. Sound steep? Well, wait til you see all the side dishes that come along with the single order of Makkoli. I wouldn't suggest eating before you go (unless you really hate traditional Korean food, and I'm not talking kimbap cheonguk style, in which case fill up before you go because you might be disappointed with your options for food).

Our first makkoli joint turned out pretty good, but after two kettles, we decided to head out and check out another place. A sudden downpour made us pick a restaurant quick, but again, no disappointments. Their menu was similar but they sent out some of those strange Korean dishes that should be on every foreigner's checklist to try before leaving: silkworm larvae, live octopus and fermented sashimi among others. I'll post about that later..

We had an early start, so we had a pretty early finish heading out around 11:30 to find a hotel to stay the night. Now, in Jeonju, if you want to stay at a nice place, like a hanok, you need to make reservations far in advance, BUT, if you want to stay in the cheapest possible place, then the (not so) little love motel area right behind the bus terminal is the place for you. We couldn't get a room at the first place we stopped at, but the second one was just perfect. 40,000 for the night with a jacuzzi. Despite bad connotations with love motels in other countries, love motels are not (very) sketchy and are generally fairly clean considering the price. Definitely an option for budget travelers here.

In the morning, we awoke with pretty bad hangovers and decided to find a restaurant to try the famous Jeonju 콩나물국밥 (beansprout soup and rice) which is, well, soup with beansprouts, rice and topped with an egg. Despite sounding bland and a little unappetizing, with a little red pepper powder added it was quite enjoyable.

Dinner on Sunday was the famous Jeonju Bibimbap. Now, I don't know if I went to the wrong restaurant or what, but... this looks like regular old bibimbap to me. Delicious, but perfectly normal and unexotic. Does anyone know what's supposed to be special about Jeonju Bibimbap?

Anyway, Jeonju is well known for it's cuisine and if you ask any Korean they'll be able to list of things like bibimbap, bean sprout soup and makkoli as famous menu items here. While Jeonju may not be the most interesting place in Korea, it's cheap and interesting for a weekend getaway. Expect one more post from the trip soon!


  1. There are several distinguishings characteristics of 전주빕빔밥 . . . one is the inclusion of 황포묵 (also called 노랑목), a yellow jelly made from mung beans and colored with gardenia blossoms. Some people associate it with using 육회 (raw beef), although this is more specific to 진주 빕빔밥, or cooking the rice in beef broth. Others point to the use of local (usually 임실) bean sprouts, and having bean sprout soup as accompanyment, or say that the local style is traceable to court foods and has royal antecedants. In any case, 전주 비빔밥 has come to be the dominant style served nationwide.

  2. Aha! This is great info! There was a little side of bean sprout soup, now that you mentioned it. I didn't realize it was something special, so I didn't mention it. The one I tried didn't have any sort of mung beans, but it did have bean sprouts.