July 30, 2015
Guise. Whoa. Guise. This was a totally epic Food Adventure Program For Awesome People. A magical meal made from the heart and served with love and detail. As we mentioned in the video, Korean Royal Cuisine is not your normal meal. It’s pretty hard to find a legit location that is made by a real chef rather than just a tourist trap that is meant to be more entertaining than delicious. But we searched for a while for a highly recommended and legitimate location for this video, and we found 지화자 Jihwaja in North Jeolla.
This was also somewhat close to Jeollabuk-do, which is the same province in the southwest that we went to for our millions of side dishes video, which also was an epic eating experience. I’m telling you, man: Korean food outside of Seoul is pretty epic. If you love Korean food, you need to eat it outside of Seoul. FACT! Get on a bus now if you’re in Seoul!
For this place, though, you can’t just hop on a bus and eat at this place. The restaurant’s name is 지화자 (Jeehwaja), and it requires reservations in advance due to the lengthy nature of making the food, and also due to the size of the restaurant. Eating there takes well over an hour. It’s like you’re eating a Thanksgiving Day feast, and cooking that much food requires lots of prep.
Also, this was a tiny place with maybe four tables. The chef Han Bokryeo 한복려 is super famous in Korea because she is the only remaining official holder for Korean royal court cuisine. She was taught how to prepare this food by her family and she is called on to supervise the presentation of Joseon Dynasty food in historical movies and TV shows. If any of you have seen “Jewel in the Palace” (대장금) she supervised and prepared all the food to make sure it was done accurately. I sure as hell hope the people on set ate all of that food and didn’t use it just as props and tossed it away! They must have eaten it all, right?
Still, despite the chef being so awesome and one of the few remaining holders of amazingly rare food history information, she was very humble and just excited to see us enjoy her food so happily. She never left the table’s side, she was always serving the food and preparing one perfect bite for each of us of to consume. Besides the incredibly unique nature of the food, the service was an incredible enough experience. Also, she’s very used to foreigners coming to the restaurant. We asked her! I mean, it’s a lot more common to see foreigners in Seoul than it is out here at her restaurant, but a lot of people know about it and go out of their way to eat at her place. Supposedly it’s big in the Japanese blogosphere, because there’s an ultra healthy food movement going on over there? I don’t know. I’m just relaying what I was told. Also a lot of foreign diplomats go there to eat. People a lot more important than the four of us in matching hoodies and a stickered car. They must have gotten the 12 side dishes while we just got the nine. Ha!
Otherwise, there is simply no way I’ll be able to explain all the food because frankly, we didn’t even know what we were eating. We had a basic idea of if it was meat or not-meat, but I don’t know what to call it in Korean. Soo Zee wasn’t much help either because this was something that she never ate before. I’d like to call everything “yummy dish 1” and “yummy dish 2.”
Interestingly, though, there’s one dish that really didn’t do it for us. I mean, it was good, but we didn’t love it. It was the final dish: a giant fish soup. Leigh and Soo Zee went nuts over it. It was the best soup they ever had. It was, according to Soo Zee, an old Korean man’s perfect soup. They’d dream about this. For us though, it was alright. Korean fish soup isn’t really our thing. It’s good sometimes but I don’t gush over it like I do for a clam chowder, you know? But the two of them talk about it even to this day. Like “hey, remember that fish soup?” they say to each other, and then their eyes drift off into the distance as they remember it’s….something. Something special it had I don’t know.
Still: even if this meal didn’t come with the soup I’d still call this one of the best meals we ever had in Korea. We never had anything like it before, and haven’t had anything like it since. If you want to check it out, this is the address: 전라북도 군산시 부곡 1길 6, which is the new address. If your GPS system is old, then maybe 전라북도 군산시 나운동 870-10 would work, since that’s its old address. And by old and new address, I don’t mean different locations. They’re the same locations. Korea is just changing it’s address system. Confusing, I know.
Also, as some of you might have noticed that this was filmed in Korea and we’re not in Korea now. We’re actually in Houston at the moment! On our way to Busan and Jeju for our EYK Roadtrip we planned on stopping by this place, so yes we filmed this ages ago. We planned on having videos for when we were on our US Road Trip, which we’re on now. This is gonna be the last of our Korea videos for a while now until we get back to Korea end of August, but we’ve already filmed a bunch of US stuff, so that’s coming soon!
Otherwise, we’ve got some extra scenes, too, if you feel like seeing a bit more. Check em out below!