The cheapest coffee you can get at Starbucks is a small Americano for 4,100 won. For less than that you can get two bowls of Haejangguk at Somunnanjip Gukbap in Jongno. It's been open for over seventy years, its ownership passed down generations. The restaurant sells a single dish, haejangguk (cabbage leaves boiled in beef bone broth), with a side of rice and kimchi for the incredibly cheap price of 2,000 won. It's been featured on television multiple times and sells hundreds of bowls of haejangguk each day, but because of how cheap it is, the owner, Kwon Young-Hee, doesn't make much profit. This was a conscious decision by its owner, who explained that "The majority of the customers in this restaurant are elderly people who’ve worked hard for the growth of Korea. I just want to serve them a hot bowl of soup in return." In a country where nearly half of all elderly people live in poverty, this is incredibly important.
Kwon's mother opened the restaurant not long after the end of the Korean War after fleeing from Pyongyang. It has gone through many changes over the years, first serving naengmyeon, which her hometown is famous for, then Korean-style Chinese food, then chueotang, before finally settling on the current menu of haejangguk in 1980. Price increases have been minimal since then. The tables are carved out of lumber, giving the interior a very classic look. Half bottles of soju are also offered for the elderly who can't afford or handle a full bottle. For a different experience, or if you're traveling on a budget, make sure to check Somunnanjip Gukbap.
|Company Name||Somunnanjip Gukbap (소문난집 국밥)|
|Category||Food, Drink & Nightlife|
|Opening Hours||04:30 - 22:00|
131 Supyo-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea 131
Take Lines 1, 3, or 5 to Jongno 3-ga Station and go out Exit 5. -> Walk straight 35 meters to the next street. Somunnanjip Gukbap will be in front of you.