Last night we went to a raw fish restaurant: 회, hwae. They offer regular sashimi but also 회무침 hwae muchim – slices of raw fish mixed with salad vegetables in a spicy chilli sauce, which is eaten by wrapping a small amount of fish and veg in a sesame leaf. It has a very Korean flavour and I love the whole process of wrapping food in a leaf before I eat it
We had a set menu which included the hwae muchim and also some 물회 mul hwae – slices of raw fish and vegetables in a spicy, icy soup! (Sounds weird but tastes good!) Then there was a dish of plain raw fish – halibut – which we had with soy sauce and wasabi. Then came salmon and abalone and prawn tempura. This was followed by 매운탕 maeuntang, a spicy hot stew. Lots of little side dishes too including miokguk seaweed soup, spicy burdock, and deep fried squid. By this point there was so much food on the table I didn’t know which to eat first.
This restaurant is part of a chain called Kangleungjip – we usually go to the one near the express bus terminal in Seoul. (update 2015: this one has now closed down ) There are restaurants all around Seoul and we have now been to three different ones. Although they are a chain, each restaurant is slightly different. In one restaurant the vegetables were more thickly cut in the hwae muchim, so I didn’t like it as much – the thickly cut cabbage became overpowering. But on the other hand there was more sashimi. I think the food varies depending on the chef of course but also on the location of the restaurant. The side dishes are slightly different too. But the main idea is the same!
It was fairly quiet when we arrived. I put that down to the weather as some people say you shouldn’t eat hwae on a rainy day. But by the time we left the place was pretty busy.
above: white fish sashimi
above: salmon (left) abalone (right)
above: maeuntang, a spicy hot stew heated at the table