[Seoul] Ilhochic 일호식

Having read about this new restaurant that serves healthy and hearty meals, I definitely had to check it out so made a reservation for dinner one evening with friends (I recommend to make a reservation beforehand especially during dinner time).

Ilhochic is located in tucked behind a main street in Hannam-dong and the nearest metro station is Hannam Station. The restaurant is on the ground floor of a four storey building and the entrance is very simplistic with just its sign on a square wood block.

We were ushered to our table which was facing the bar table so you could see the kitchen area. The atmosphere was relaxing and all the tables by the windows were already taken up by mature men and women. This is definitely not a place for the young and hip but rather for those who are into their healthy food from time to time (me!).

The menu was simple and consisted of single dishes and the Prix Fixe – the fixed price set meals which is inclusive of the side dishes. The five of us went for a set meal each and our choices included brown rice with beef and soft boiled egg, grilled mackerel with brown rice and a Korean style omelette to share.

The food was fresh and hearty and I thoroughly enjoyed every dish laid out in front of me! The price is probably a bit overpriced compared to similar restaurants but it was comfortable and cosy. Next time I would come back here and try the dinner menu and other delicacies on the menu such as the braised kimchi with pork belly and the fish cake stew. If you are looking for something healthy and hearty and tasty then give Ilhochic a try.

For those of you who don’t know, Ilhochic actually means 一好食 in Chinese. This loosely translates to Number One Tasty and the way its pronounced in Cantonese is very similar to the Korean pronunciation. Coincidence? I think not.

[Hong Kong] Butao Ramen

As many people may know already, a few years ago, the ramen wave started in Hong Kong. These ramen places have popped up all over the place in Hong Kong with Ichiran becoming one of the most popular ramen places with constant queues. I was not a big ramen fan before but I was intrigued as to what makes people go crazy over these bowls of noodles in pork broth.

I have passed Butao Ramen on Wellington Street in Central for countless times and have only made my first ever visit last Friday. We got there just before 6:30pm and there were still seats available as I did expect there to be some queuing since it was reaching peak dinner time. We were seated at the bar table just in front of the open kitchen and could hear the chefs tending to the orders left and right.

We were given a glass of water and the menus with two order forms. As I flicked through the menu, I was immediately taken with the ‘Black King’. It contains black sauce made primarily from black garlic and squid ink are immersed together with their original pork soup stock to create a black soup base. Well why not try something new and black, right? Once you choose your soup base out of the four options, you can add / adjust the level of spiciness, garnish, etc to your liking before choosing the texture of your noodles. I picked ‘hard’ noodles as I prefer to chew the noodles.

When our order arrived within 5 minutes, I was really excited to try the ‘Black King’. As I added some spicy beansprouts from the table which is self service and sprinkled some sesame seeds over my bowl, I was ready to begin. I picked up a part of the black ball in the middle of the bowl and tried it without hesitation. It was minced pork but coated with black sauce. The taste was not strong but very unique and in the end you can taste that it is indeed pork. I then started to dig into my noodles swimming in my bowl of black soup. The texture was perfect and the soup base was amazing. You can taste the pork broth but also a hint of squid which gives it a bit of a seafood kick. The slices of pork were cooked to perfection and I was left feeling very satisfied with the meal.

I would definitely recommend the ‘Black King’ because it really is so tasty and everything about it is spot on. The next time I come back here, I would like to try their ‘Red King’ which are their spicy noodles. Butao Ramen currently has four locations in Hong Kong and we went to the one in Central. Staff are friendly and the restaurant, although not big, has a nice atmosphere but not one to stay long in, so just eat your noodles and go.