Situated between the Han River and the popular areas of Hongdae and Hapjeong, Mangwon is a neat little area that is less artsy but full of liveliness and energy. It offers a real insight into the day-to-day life of people in this area, with a sizeable traditional market stretched across. If you ever decide to visit Mangwon, here are some of our favourite spots that not many have heard of yet.
Hidden in a basement that may not stand out to many is Bistro Le Mere, serving clean eats with a classy, modern twist. From an avocado salmon rice bowl to a classic tomato-based beef stew, the menu of Bistro Le Mere experiments with various flavour palates. To keep diners interested, seasonal dishes are added to the menu, such as fresh yellowtail sashimi in the winter. As the “Save Water, Drink Wine” neon sign in the restaurant suggests, the crème-de-la-crème of Bistro Le Mere is its impressive, but non-intimidating wine list. Coming from a sommelier background, the owner of this quirky little bistro is a major wine enthusiast. Don’t hesitate to ask for suggestions; the owner is helpful, kind, and more than happy to share his knowledge of wine. We suggest trying out one of the organic wines on Bistro Le Mere’s list.
On a side note, if you are someone who loves “Instagrammable” places, this restaurant will not disappoint you. With earthy neutral tones, leafy vines and gold hardware table settings, Bistro Le Mere has a very “Garden of Eden meets modernity” vibe to it.
두블르베, or “W” in French, is a 8-seater mini bar just off the centre of the busy Mangwon Market area. The dimmed lighting inside this little drinking spot makes it not very easy to spot for passers by. If you are someone not very fond of drinking in a noisy setting or a big fan of drinking alone, this is a neat spot for you. The menu mostly consists of wine and other alcohol options such as whisky and beer. Side plates or 안주s are available, as well as a few pasta options. The ambiance is quiet and moody, which also makes Dublave a very appropriate date spot. To our fellow lady readers, if you are looking for a cozy little spot to hang with your girlfriends over a bottle of wine and a delicious cheese plate, this is definitely the place to be.
This Hawaiian-themed eatery could easily be anyone’s favourite, especially if you are into healthy eating. Located in a small alleyway off the main roads of Mangwon, Ola Shack serves healthy and delicious food that is simple yet tasty. From smoothie bowls and open sandwiches to cleansing juice and coconut water, this is definitely a great place for someone who’s on a diet and wants decent, guilt-free food. The décor is what one might call “Aloha Minimalism”, with clean wooden furnishings, leafy plants and plumeria flowers on every table. Half of the bar seats are located outside, so this little shack feels very inviting to anyone passing by. Wine by the glass and beers are also on the menu, so feel free to get a little buzzed over Sunday brunch. Why not?
Located in a not-so populated area of Mangwon, Le Glacier Des toiles (빙하의별) serves comfort French cuisine and world famous soft-serve ice cream and sorbet. Decked out in pink, neon lights and stainless steel, this unique little 10-seater restaurant mimics the imagery of the infamous movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Even the rounded tables and plastic coasters are in shades of pink! As for food, the restaurant only serves a soup-of-the-day, meatball with onion sauce, a half chicken with orange or whisky sauce and soft-serve ice cream. We would suggest ordering the set menu to taste all 3 courses, with your choice of the two main dishes. Even though the menu is quite small and doesn’t change over time, each dish lives up to French standards. The meatball is rich in flavour and the half chicken is juicy, succulent, and pairs very well with either of the sauces. Be sure to check this place out if you are looking for some delicious French comfort food in Seoul.
Easily mistaken as a café, Sumussu (스믓스) serves a variety of rice porridge (죽) in a Hanok-style house. We can all agree that porridge heals the soul for someone who is fighting a cold. So if you are ill or simply enjoy eating delicious porridge, this is a place you definitely cannot miss. Unlike other traditional Korean-styled porridges, Sumussu fancies up the menu with meatball porridge, spicy shrimp porridge and other flavourful options that you can’t really find elsewhere. What makes this place extra homey is that it also serves freshly made fruit sweet rice drink (식혜). Nothing beats a bowl of hot porridge with a side of kiwi 식혜 on a cold winter’s night. Sumussu is definitely a favourite for some Korean comfort food this winter.