Seoul, Myeongdong district, Chungmuro 2(i)-ga
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Rice in a brass bowl with toppings and sides galore
In the Korean capital's Myeongdong district, you're not limited to 'Seoul-food;' you can also taste distinctive dishes from Jeonju city, in the country's fertile Southwest. Go to "Go-gung" (pronounce: goh-goong) restaurant. The restaurant's signature dish is "Jeon-ju bi-bim-bap"--in a brass bowl, steamed rice is topped with beef, radish, pumpkin, cucumber, spinach, bellflower root (huh?), bracken-fern (a.k.a. 'fiddleheads'), jujubes (Chinese dates), pine nuts, walnuts, mung-bean-'jelly,' gingko nuts, chestnuts, chili-paste, and a raw egg which gets cooked as you stir everything into the hot rice. Along with the main course come the obligatory 'bahn-chahn' accompaniments, including soy-bean-sprout soup, mild cabbage kimchi, red napa kimchi, and 'bin-deh-tteok': mung-bean-and-vegetable 'pancake.' To wash it down--what looks like a glass of iced latte is in fact 'moju,' a rustic country-style cinnamon-spiked rice-wine; don't let the cloudy color scare you!
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