It is known that Korean food culture is a group phenomenon: Koreans eat their meals with family, friends and colleagues, Korean food restaurants are tailored for groups and menus are customized with “sets” for 2+. Times change, and in rapidly globalized South Korea there is a place for new trends – honbap/혼밥 – eating alone, followed by honsul/혼술 – drinking alcohol on your own.
If you are living in Korea, you probably have your own favourite spots to honbap. If you are traveling in Korea on your own/have a day on your own – forget about ramyun and kimbap from convenience store – go explore your neighbourhood for honbap eateries!
So, where to eat alone in Seoul? Here are some of my favourite places to eat in Hongdae and Gangnam:
Honbap in Hongdae
#1 그동네 떡볶이 Geudongnae Ttokbeokki
I am a big fan of ttokbeokki: spicy or mild, with seafood, cheese or just from the street food stand – always yummy! When I was craving cheese ttokbeokki, I found this place on Naver blog (blog on Korean popular search engine) here.
So, I arrived alone to the restaurant during afternoon. Staff gave me menu in English right away, which is nice, but I also can read in Korean ㅋㅋ Also, they asked if I want to take out, so it is an option.
You can see line 1인(1 person) and 2인 (2 persons) for ttokbeokki on the menu. I ordered 치즈폭포떡볶이 (Cheese Pockpo Ttokbeokki) for 1 person (6.000₩) and 튀김 (fried food) – 새우 네마리 (4 shrimps tempura) for 3.000₩. There are many other types of ttokbeokki in this restaurant, but the one I ordered is their signature dish.
The place is small with several square tables. Side dishes are self-served: you can pick soup and pickles near the counter. The shrimps arrived first, and ttokbeokki after 10 minutes – oh how delicious it was! So much cheeese!
With these 2 dishes for 9.000₩ (around 9$) I was very full and happy! My number one favourite place for honbap!
#2 미분당 Mibundang
After Friday night or 불금 / bulgeum (slang word meaning ‘Fire Friday’) in Hongdae, me and my friend were pretty hungover and hungry.
She brought me to pho restaurant – Vietnamese soups are very popular here and called 쌀국수. Pho is served non-spicy, but there are spicy sauces on the side to flavour to your taste (and cure hangover like Korean😅). Although I came here with my friend, I include it in this list as it is definitely a honbap place.
You should first pay for your order at the vending machine near the entrance. Then, handle the ticket to staff and take a seat in front of the small kitchen.
I ordered soup #2 양지쌀국수 for 8.000₩. It was tasty and portion was huge, I couldn’t finish all. Side dishes are unlimited as usual, and if you want more, then put small plate on the counter, so staff can fill it.
Honbap in Gangnam
#3 고메 스시 Gourmet Sushi
Japanese traditional food is always a good choice for solo-meal. There are so many great sushi places in Korea! I haven’t been to Japan yet, that’s why sushi I tried in Korea are the best so far.
Gourmet sushi serves lunch set on weekdays from 11 am to 15 pm for 9.000₩. Set includes 10 sushi, 2 rolls, mini-udon (noodle soup) and salmon salad, plus unlimited pickled reddish.
Perfect lunch to enjoy on a busy day in crowded Gangnam~ Here are some mouthwatering close-ups:
#4 마루가메제면 Marukame Jaemyun
This is Japanese restaurant again, but it specializes in udon noodles. So, basically, it serves different types of udon plus some fried food, which is very delicious here!
You can check the menu in front of restaurant and decide what you will eat, because when you enter the door, you appear in a line (like in buffet, and you should order, pick and pay for your food before seating).
I ate here twice and I tried 돈코츠우동 / Donkocheu Udon (7.200₩) and 니꾸타마붓가케 / Meat Egg Udon (7.300), plus shrimp tempura / 튀김 (700₩ for one) and rice ball 주먹밥 (1000₩ for one).
They also gave me a card for collecting stamps – if you eat here 10 times you can get something for free, but I didn’t check what. Definitely wanna come again and try other noodles!
So, these are four of my favourite honbap places in Seoul. You can find them by copying restaurant name in Korean to Naver maps/Kakao maps.
If you are planning to eat alone in Seongsu, Seoul, check out my first post, in which I tell about a wonderful Michelin-starred restaurant where you can have lunch just for 8.000₩! It is a great option for honbap!