If you are craving a delicious bowl of gomtang (beef soup), then head over to Hadongkwan in Myeongdong which has been in business for over 70 years. Since the 1930s, Hadongkwan has served only two items: gomtang and suyuk (boiled beef soup).
If you are familiar with the area of Myeongdong, then you know that there are hundreds of restaurants, many which are expensive or touristy. They lack quality you expect for the price.
So what’s Hadongkwan’s secret to success? It’s simple, they use quality ingredients which ensures the same great taste year after year.
For those unfamiliar, gomtang is a traditional Korean beef soup with rice. The broth is made by boiling beef and radish for many hours which results in a light, but rich and clean broth. Hadongkwan uses no artificial flavors and has been using the same Korean beef provider for over 60 years.
The taste of the soup has remained the same since the opening of the restaurant over 70 years ago. For over 40 years, owner Mrs. H. Y. Kim has stood by the pot ensuring a quality product. Almost all the employees have been working in the restaurant for decades. The gomtang here is never reheated and leftovers are never used. When they run out of the dish, the restaurant closes no matter what time of the day.
When you sit down at your table to order, your choices are limited. You can order the regular gomtang, with beef and rice, the special gomtang with intestines, or the suyuk with boiled beef. After ordering, you pay immediately to the server. Only a few minutes after ordering, your soup arrives at your table in a traditional brass bowl.
Only a few simple ingredients are used to make the gomatang at Hadongkwan. A simple broth, slightly chewy beef, and more rice than you can probably eat.
There is really no right or wrong way to eat gomatang. On the table, you have access to freshly cut green onions and a small bowl of salt. Most people added a handful of green onions and a little pinch of salt to the broth before eating. For more flavor, grab some of the famous radish kimchi with your chopsticks and dunk it into the soup. Don’t forget to drink some of the refreshing barley tea after you finish your gomtang, or after each bite like I do.
The star of the dish, the homemade broth, is rich but neutral in flavor without any unpleasant tastes or odors. Adding salt to the warm soup helps improve the overall flavor of the otherwise simple and light broth. The best addition to the soup is the sliced green onion which adds a great contrast in texture to the otherwise chewy and soft sliced beef and soft rice.
At the bottom of the bowl, you will find more rice than you can probably eat. The rice is quite flavorful as it soaks up all the delicious flavors of the broth, beef, onions, and salt.
If you run out of broth and still have rice in your bowl, just ask for a free refill of broth.