Chuncheon, the home of dakgalbi
On our quest to eat the best we often find ourselves travelling to the homeland of a particular dish. I took a combined 4 hour journey to discover South Korea's best bibimbap, so a 1 hour journey from Seoul for dakgalbi seemed like a walk in the park.
Dakgalbi is delicious, and if done right can be warming, spicy, and the epitome of comfort food. It surfaced in the 1960's as a food to accompany drinking, as many famous Korean dishes do. It originally sprung up as an alternative to pork ribs which had become scarce due to a pork shortage. In the early days chicken was grilled atop a small grill on the table as is the custom with samgipsal (BBQ) and this is still available today, if you chose this option.
In the 1970's the bull pan was brought in, as were vegetables, tteok (that delicious soft and chewy rice cake) and hot pepper paste.
Today you can enjoy the meal covered in cheese if your wish. And no serving of dakgalbi is complete without bokeumbap, steamed rice with dried seaweed mixed together with the left overs of the dakgalbi. It is said that instead of a dessert stomach, Korean's have a bokeumbap stomach. I would believe it. At some places you can even get cheese bokeumbap.
What sets Chuncheon dakgalbi aside from the rest is the freshness and the harmony of flavour, after all they have been serving it up for a long time.
Where to find the best:
It's no surprise that the best dakgalbi, in our opinions, is in Chuncheon. Go to Myeongdong Dakgalbi street, Chuncheon - there you will find a plethora of dakgalbi shops.
Price will differ on location, type and inclusions. But you should expect to pay around W13,000 - W15,000 per person, and an additional W2,000 per person for bokembap. Cheese will always cost extra.
How to get to Chuncehon:
Take the metro, or ITX from Yongsan station. Get off at Chuncheon station and you can easily walk to dakgalbi street. A ticket on the ITX will cost W7,400 and will take around an hour.