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Korean Royal Cuisine

July 30, 2015

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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!

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  1. So I was doing a lot of snooping/internet P.I. trying to find out more information about this place.
    If you look up Jihwaja you get to this one http://eng.jihwajafood.co.kr/astore/store01.php
    Which was opened by Hwang Hae-sung but I don’t think that’s the one you guys went to cause it’s located in Seoul.

    I ended up finding a restaurant called 지미원 (Jimiwon?) which matches the address you guys gave. (http://korean.visitkorea.or.kr/kor/bz15/where/where_main_search.jsp?cid=134448&chk7=0&areaCode=37,2&recommFid=)

    which look like where you guys went to cause I found a blog post by someone who went there and the food they had looks a lot like yours (http://blog.daum.net/_blog/BlogTypeView.do?blogid=0S6ff&articleno=1482&categoryId=9&regdt=20110603212635)

    My question is can you guys confirm that for me? Cause in all the articles I’ve read about Han Bokryeo it said that her two restaurants are Jihwaja and Gungyeon.

    1 year ago
  2. Are you sure that that is perssimon juice? It looked red and clear but perssimon said are orange. I think it looks more like pomagranet juice.

    2 years ago
  3. You guys hit the nail on the head about Seoul food. It’s a gross representation of Korean food. It’s all fast, cheap and drinking orientated. Food outside of Seoul is so much better, especially in 전라도!!! However I do recommend an amazing restaurant in Seoul that serves traditional and very refined Korean food in a fine dining setting – La Yeon at the Shilla hotel. Might be a little expensive for some but definitely worthwhile and sn experience you will never forget! It’s a set menu that changes by the season and they also have special 100 year old me us some days.

    2 years ago
  4. As always this made me so so hungry! And your appreciation of it just made me want it even more. There is something magical about Korean Food that even if it is something I don’t like (spicy food and shellfish) seeing it being eaten just makes my mouth water.

    I really want to try this.

    What was the price like for this experience?

    2 years ago
  5. That looked so amazing….

    2 years ago
  6. I can’t even watch this because it makes me make a pouty face and go “hnnnnnnnnnnnghhhhhhhhh I wanna go to Koreaaaaaaaa…..”. We don’t even have Korean restaurants where I live, so I get really jealous watching your F.A.P.F.A.Ps… *sigh*

    2 years ago
  7. I guess name of the restaurant is wrong. It’s 지미원 not 지화자. 지화자 is run by 한복려 as you posted. However, this restaurant is totally unrelated to 한복려. Still, I think this restaurant look so epic. Thanks for your amazing videos always :D

    2 years ago
  8. Okay, so this is really random and completely unrelated to this video, but if you make an eyk account, is it possible to delete it and if so how would you do that?

    2 years ago
  9. That looks SOOOO amazing :D

    2 years ago
  10. ^^’ sorry for double comments.

    2 years ago
  11. So how much did it cost to eat that?

    2 years ago
  12. Hey Simon and Martina just was wondering if you guys have ever heard of Maangchi? Shes a YouTuber that makes cooking videos about her authentic Korean recipes and I think it would be so awesome if you did a collab with her when you visit New York.

    2 years ago
    • Guise please please PLEASE get in touch with Maangchi. That would be the best collab ever.

      2 years ago
  13. are the ones in seoul worth going to?

    2 years ago
  14. Thanks, guise. I didn’t know about this particularly Korean cuisine style. And, no k-pop quizz test for Leigh? Noooo. The tradicional must live on! hahahaha

    Wait, what? Only $50, wow! Amazing deal.

    2 years ago
    • Ha! If we quizzed her for every part we’d spend an hour trying to get through everything. We drove for so long to get here that we figured we’d just eat :D

      2 years ago
  15. Martina, that ‘shake that brass’ joke was something I’d expect from Simon. You know, not that I’m uh…implying anything.

    It was so much fun meeting all of you in L.A. If it had occurred to me that I could secure Soo Zee and Leigh by bribing King Simon, I would have come to the event appropriately prepared. Also, I enjoyed the playlist you used. Can I convince you to post it to the website?

    Tips for those attending the upcoming tour destinations:
    1) Have Leigh define some film terminology. HOT.
    2) Prepare some poses to use in pictures.

    I’m looking forward to seeing pictures of Simon wearing chaps and spurs around Texas.

    2 years ago
    • WE TRIED TO FIND CHAPS! I don’t know where to look :(

      2 years ago
      • Oh my god! I failed to offer to take you all to a gun range. And now you’re in Texas. TEXAS. Everyone knows there are no guns in Texas. (Leigh, if they go for this idea, don’t let them hurt themselves.)

        2 years ago
  16. I’m So Hungry!!! I miss you guys so much! I hope y’all are having fun on your road trip!

    2 years ago
  17. Yesss! So excited you guys finally went! : D Also according to every Korean historical drama I’ve seen, ever, the king is NOT supposed to eat all the food- he should eat enough to show he enjoys it/until full and send the rest away. Then the kitchen staff get to enjoy the leftovers of what they made.

    Any Korean history majors that can confirm this for us? : O

    2 years ago
  18. Wow! This looks amazing! I’d love to take my mom there when we visit family at the end of the year. Is there a website or phone number to make reservations? My internet search is coming up with 지화자 in Insadong Seoul so it’s not the right one. TIA!

    2 years ago
  19. Amazing! Questions: how soon did you reserve your table? How is the pricing set up? Per event or per person? Thanks for the awesome vids!

    2 years ago
    • We booked this a couple of months in advance. Soo Zee found it on the Korean internets and called them up. Per person we paid $50 :D

      2 years ago