678찜 (압구정로데오점) (678-jjim)
Reviewed by Annie Namba on April 25, 2011 / Updated July 14, 2011
Last Sunday, we stopped by 678찜 (yuk-chil-pal-jjim) at their 압구정로데오점 (Apgujeong Rodeo Drive location) for dinner. (Alas, it is not quite on Rodeo Drive.) As is often the case in Korea, this restaurant specializes in just one thing, which in this case is 갈비찜 (braised beef ribs).
Happily, unlike many single-dish restaurants, this one offers lots of options. You can choose from several toppings: 버섯사리 (mushrooms), 떡사리 (Korean rice cake), or 당면사리 (long rice noodles). A cheese topping is also available. The dish comes in three levels of spiciness: 악간매운맛 (mild), 매운맛 (spicy) and 진짜매운맛 (seriously spicy).
We ended up going with the 당면사리, and despite the recommendation by our server that we stick with the "mild" option, we selected the middle option. This came out to 45000원. As they happened to have our favorite 막걸리 (Korean rice wine), 우국생 (short for 우리 햅쌀로 빚은 국순당 생막걸리) we asked for a bottle of that as well (5000원).
Shortly afterward, a few simple 반찬 (side dishes) were served: 동치미 (cold kimchi soup), salted cabbage kimchee, sliced cucumber with wasabi dressing, and 김 (dried seaweed, aka nori) with a soy dipping sauce. They also served a small 돌솥 (hot stone bowl) with steamed egg, along with a lettuce salad with crushed black sesame seed dressing which Aaron especially liked.
The serving dishes, spoons and even the tips of the chopsticks were made of brass, which, while rather heavy, oozed class and tradition.
At last, the signature dish arrived. But one taste and we knew we had made a mistake.
We had been warned by the server about the spiciness of the regular "spicy," but well, we like spicy, so we went for it. In this case, though, I can't think of anyone who would truly enjoy this amount of spice in their 갈비찜. On scale of 1-10, we would rate this about 9. At this level, both of us need to take breaks, and Aaron turns red and begins sweating profusely.
Overall, despite the spicy overload, the flavor was excellent. To take a break from the 갈비찜, we decided to order some 만두튀김 (fried mandu), as this appeared to be one of their most popular dishes (we spotted a plateful at every other table). It comes as three giant 만두, each stuffed full of meat and chives. We really enjoyed this one.
Toward the end of the meal, we ordered 볶음밥 (fried rice) to finish off the sauce at the bottom of the kalbi pot. Each table sported an induction cooktop, which browned the bottom of the rice in a cast iron pot lined with stone inside. It was good, but having eaten so much already, we weren't able to finish all the rice.
Next time, it would probably be good idea to get cheese topping to counteract some of the spiciness. And we will probably just order the mild version anyway, as 갈비찜 is not a dish that needs to be spicy to be enjoyable.
- Food: 4/5 – Some of the meat was on the tougher side but the flavor of the sauce was good. Fried mandoo was fresh with lots of filling.
- Atmosphere: 3/5 – Casual and clean
- Service: 5/5 – Servers came and cut all the meat off of the bones for us.