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Hanjeongsik, a full-course Korean meal

H
anjeongsik is a full-course Korean food with an array of savory side dishes. The most lavish hanjeongsik traditions originated with the banquets served in the royal palaces or homes of aristocrats. In such lavish cuisine, side dishes are prepared and arranged strictly according to the Asian philosophy of eumyang ohaeng (yin and yang and the five primary elements), a system in which the harmony of five tastes and five colors (red, blue, green, white and black) are highly valued. Therefore, the tables include dishes cooked in various ways with a variety of ingredients.

Usually, the course starts with a cold appetizer and gruel, and the main dishes include dishes mixed with seasonings either grilled, boiled, steamed, fried, or salted. Hotpots are served as well, after the meal, traditional punches such as sikhye (sweet rice drink) or sujeonggwa (cinnamon-persimmon punch) and other desserts may be served. Actually, the types of dishes served in the hanjeongsik vary greatly according to the season or region. Another decisive element, of course, is the taste and skill of the hostess preparing the hanjeongsik table.

One useful tip for beginners: never eat too much at one serving or of any particular dish. Take a bite of each and enjoy. Otherwise, your stomach will be too full to savor the many courses yet to come.

Tour2Korea.com introduces several of the main dishes of hanjeongsik, and recommends hanjeongsik restaurants.

Main dishes served on a hangjeongsik table
Pajeon (green onion pancakes); twigim (fried dishes); galbijjim (short rib stew); pyeonchae; jangeogui (broiled eel); gejang (shelled crabs salted in soy sauce); hoe (sashimi, raw fish sliced and served with soy sauce or hot pepper sauce mixed with vinegar and sugar); patbap (rice, red beans, black beans, chestnuts and ginko nuts cooked over a low heat in a large iron pot); doenjangjjigae (soybean paste stew); jogaetang (clam soup); dongchimi (watery radish kimchi); hobakjuk (squash porridge); gujeolpan (strips of cooked meat and vegetables including mushrooms, ginseng, cucumbers, unripe hot peppers, bamboo shoots, radishes and cooked eggs are arranged in a large nine-sectioned dish with a stack of Korean pancakes in the center -the fillings are wrapped in the pancakes and eaten); sinseollo (beef, fillet fish, sliced onions, mushrooms, hot peppers, cooked eggs, ginkgo nuts, dried jujubes, and persimmons cooked at your table in a specially designed pot).

Korea House
Korea House was established in 1957 by the Foundation for Preservation of Cultural Properties of Korea, aimed at introducing Korean culture and traditions to foreigners. Its architectural design as well as interior decoration is in strict accordance with traditional style. Traditional Korean folk music, mask dramas and court dances are performed by nationally renowned performers, including Cultural Property Artisans. Shows take place inside Korea House twice daily, at 7:20 p.m. and 8:50 p.m., and last about one hour. Admission is 29,000 won per person.

Visitors may also enjoy either of two savory Korean meals: the lavish full-course Korean meal and the buffet. The full-course meal costs from 45,100 won to 71,500 won, while the lunch buffet is 28,600 won and the dinner buffet 30,800 won. Prior reservations are recommended for the meal and/or the performance.

Korea House is open from noon to 2 p.m. and from 5:30 p.m. to 9:50 p.m. every day. At the Cultural Product Exhibition Hall located in the entrance area, open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., there are exhibits of traditional art and handicrafts, which may also be purchased.

Nearby tourist attractions include the Namsan Hanok (traditional Korean house) Village, where traditional Korean homes of both aristocrats and commoners have been restored. There are also spacious gardens, a traditional arts and crafts hall and a plaza where a time capsule lies buried, scheduled to be opened in 2394.

Information :Tel: 82-2-2266-9101 Fax: 82-2-2278-1776 How to get there : Get off at Chungmuro Station on Subway Line 3 or 4, take exit 7. Korea House is with in 5 minutes' walking distance of the station.

Pulhyanggi
If you are a weight-watcher, you can fill your stomach at Pulhyanggi Restaurant in Sinsadong, Seoul, without worrying about gaining a pound. As the name Pulhyanggi (fragrance of greens) indicates, the restaurant offers only dishes made of wild greens collected from mountainous areas. It is easy to understand why so many of the loyal customers here are weight-conscious women. A particularly popular dish is the Pulhyanggi Jeongsik, at 15,000 won, which includes 16 types of greens plain and mixed with a variety of seasonings, fresh, boiled and steamed. The Pulhyanggi Jeongsik is served on a large plate and accompanied by several typical side dishes such as doenjangjjigae (soybean paste stew) and oisobagi (cucumber kimchi).

A combination of both bland and mild flavors will please every palate. The restaurant is open from noon to 8 pm., and is closed on every first and third Monday.

Information : Tel: 82-2-545-0415~6
How to get there : Get off Apgujeong Station on Subway Line 3. The restaurant is about a 15-minute walk.

Goryeojeong
Goryeojeong is a large Korean restaurant in Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam-gu in Seoul. Situated in a five-story building, it accommodates up to 600 people. The mouth-watering fare served here includes especially generous amounts of seafood. Goryeojeong serves only full course meals, whose prices vary according to the type and number of side dishes.

The lunch menu includes Goryeosang (19,800 won), Oboksang (28,500 won), and Suboksang (33,500 won), and the dinner menu includes Suboksang (33,500 won), Sujeongsang (45,000 won), Mansumugangsang (55,000 won) and Surasang (70,000 won). Evening is a particularly good time to visit the restaurant since there are exquisite traditional dance performances and about ten other folk performances. They begin at 7:30 p.m., and last about 40 minutes. The restaurant is open from noon to 2 pm., and from 5:30 p.m., to 8:30 p.m., throughout the year.

Information : Tel: 82-2-518-0161 Fax: 82-2-518-1521
How to get there : Get off Apgujeong Station on Subway Line 3, and take exit 2, or get off at Seolleung Station on Subway Line 2, and take exit 5. Take a taxi to Gwansecheong Sageori (Customs Office Rotary).


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