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Garosu-gil Street’s Tree-lined Romance: Part 1

July 29, 2010

Garosu-gil, which literally means “tree-lined street” is the perfect setting for an romantic Sunday walk on a temperate day in search of brunch, lunch, coffee — or the affections of whoever you might wish to share those with.

Crammed with excellent eateries and cafes, it also serves up cuisine, coffee and confectioneries at prices far more reasonable than the nearby area of Apgujeong, which you can check out here here and here

Searching for lunch and brunch along Garosu-gil is a treat for the sheer variety you’ll find along one easy, strolling path. No need to search in vain over a whole neighborhood district with winding streets and identical-looking landmarks — here’ll you find that everything is easily laid out for your eating pleasure.

So let’s take a look at some of the many options you have here:

Navi 74 is a classy Chinese restaurant with good looking food, stylish preparation and a loungy, casual interior. (They also serve wine and coffee. You’ll find that EVERYWHERE along Garosu-gil serves wine and coffee, so this isn’t really as special as the sign makes it out to be):

Schoolfood is the closest thing you will find to gourmet riffs on the classical Korean cuisine of kimbap, tteokboki and various other Korean foods:

The variety is fantastic and above all cheap. Mari, which seem to be like kimbap rolls with a lot more variety, are their main draw, while also offering tteoboki, soups, noodle dishes and others. The prices are uniformly around 6,000-8,000 for a main dish:

And if you are looking for a hip, swinging lunch, School Food’s interior is as reminiscent of a Hongdae club as you are going to find in an affordable restaurant. The interior has flashy decorations, pumping dance music and, thankfully, enough restraint to make sure that all this doesn’t prevent you from having conversation with your dinner/lunch partner. As with many places in Garosu-gil, you can also eat al fresco near the front windows.

In case all this doesn’t leave you with enough Asian cuisine choices, check out Oriental Spoon, which boosts Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Japanese and Chinese. Quite the resume, eh? And, if that isn’t fusion-y enough for you, check out the name of the restaurant right next to it, on the left.

O’taco Burger — now if that isn’t the ultimate fusion, I am not sure what is. O’taco Burger, predictably, serves Tacos and Burgers, as well as other kindred fast food like sandwiches and and fries.

Many of the above places are open for brunch and have some brunch options. But if you want a real, full-blown Apgujeong-style brunch, this is the place for you — Le Brunchie. Though I am no expert, I am reasonably sure this means “The Brunch” in either French or Korench (what an awful coinage… sorry…). And that is, indeed, what it serves. As any good snobbish French brunch place ought, Le Brunchie takes the classic brunch menu and makes it haughtier-than-thou with a little special touch. For example, the eggs benedict with pumpkin compote, or the pancakes with figs (which is as glorious as it sounds). All the major brunch items are represented — French Toast, actual Belgian waffles, quiche, and so on.

On the opposite extreme of the scale of culinary refinement is King Kong steaks, where you can get some big, hulking, kick ass steaks, just as the name suggests. These steaks will scale skyscrapers, swat down planes, and capture helpless maidens. Keep a close eye on your date here:

Sognare, a Italian restaurant with your standard fare of Italian food, rounds out Garosu-gil with just about every ethnic food typically represented on eclectic multi-national streets such as these. Can you think of anything else?

…German food! Down a side street several blocks up from the Sinsa Station, Deli Heinzberg pops up out of nowhere, beckoning you into its German deli sanctums with its meats and cheeses and all sorts of greasy hedonistic delights so rarely experienced out here in Korea:

The restaurant itself looks exactly as if a typical, modern German deli filled with olive oils, breads, cheeses, and meats had been taken over by an alien superpower populated entirely by segmented steel sphere creatures whose brains emitted light and who enjoyed hanging from ceilings without moving.

Right… And they also sell cheese! And meat! Treat yourself — cuz you probably don’t even know what cheddar tastes like any more out here, do you?

And as for lunch and brunch offerings, look at all the possibilities! Panini’s, pizza’s, bratwurst, hamburgers, meatballs, salads, desserts, crepes!

This was the restaurant of choice for this tour — it was impossible to pass up such an irresistible menu full of so many things that can only be dreamed of while abroad. I was tempted at first to opt for the most extravagantly debaucherous item on the menu just to get my fill while I could. That’s right, The Frankenstein, Triple Decker:

“Will you rise above, or will you crumble before its Succulency?” I eventually decided that I would, indeed, probably crumble before its Succulency, and instead decided I was “ready to rumble” with the Dracula:

And what a delicious rumbling I was in for! The burger was packed with cheese, nicely cooked meat, great fresh buns and onions and crispy bacon with a spicy, tangy relish sauce and a bit of a dijon mayonnaise sauce that all-in-all turned out incredible, especially for the cheap price of 8,500 won.

The restaurant boasts plenty of delicious options, all of which were said to be amazing — included here are the “Lord of the Onion Rings” burger and a bratwurst panini with cheddar and pepperoni. Oooohhh….

How to get there:

1.) Go to Sinsa Station, Line 3, and get out at exit 8

2.) Walk down 3 blocks and take a left. You will see a pedestrian street with many restaurants and cafes on it.

3.) Most of the places in this review can be found just by walking down this main street. The map below will help you to find most of them (forgive my scrawled notes on the paper). As you notice, King Kong Steak is several blocks up from the station, on a street on the right. You can get to Deli Heinzburg (not on the map) by turning left on the street after Mug for Rabbit, Cork for Turtle (4 blocks from the station, see map) then going one block down. It’s on the left corner.

(Special thanks to Seoul Selection for granting me use of their excellent maps)

In the next post, I look for desserts and cafes in the area, finding some excellent tarts, cupcakes, and a random man riding a horse down the center of the road!

This post was originally published at Painting the Passports Brown.

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