I have been in Chennai for nearly 10 months now (Wow!) and I just realized that I haven't yet blogged about one of my favourite restaurants in the city. The last thing I was expecting in thayir-saadam eating, Saravana- Bhavan-loving Madras was a stellar Korean restaurant. But that's exactly what I found at In Seoul.
Unassuming, without any signs and carelessly placed on top of a supermarket, the place has a distinct 'don't-bother-us' attitude. But once you walk into the restaurant you know its the real deal. Before you get to the daunting task of figuring out what you want, let me tell you about one of the best bits of In Seoul: their complimentary starters. There is always 5-6 different small dishes (banchan) on your table. This can vary from some terrible seaweed-esque thing to a yummy yam dish and some mean kimchee. When I took Nympho there, she drooled over the squid banchan they had. If you are veggie, make sure you ask them to take away the non-veg ones.
For the veggies, I highly recommend the Soondubuchigae: steaming bean curd stew with veggies served in a stone pot. This comes with a small serving of steam cooked rice. As unlikely as it seems, this tofu soup is a favourite of mine.
My other favourite is the bibimbap (apparently, this is Korean for mixed meal). This consists of servings of rice, egg, veggies (and beef, if you want the non-veg version) and a spicy sauce. Ask the waiter to mix it for you based on your spice preference. The one adjective that comes to mind when I think of this dish is wholesome (and not in a yucky brussel sprouts way).
I also like the soupy noodles at In Seoul. I once had the japchae (glass noodles) and wasn't a huge fan. The sticky gooey texture of the noodles and the slightly sweet, bland flavour just didn't sit well with me. If you are a meat lover, there are plenty of options for you. Their beef bulgogi is very popular. They also have an extensive sea-food menu. Have a glass of soju to round up the experience.
In Seoul is also a great place for people watching. From the drunk Korean who has turned purple by the end of the meal to the table of uncomfortable looking Indians who are morosely contemplating the contents of their meal: In Seoul never disappoints. If you do visit this place, there is a one in five chance that you will spot me. Come over, say Hi!
If you are a Korean food novice, then the menu will appear practically indecipherable. The best course is to ask the waiter for his suggestions.
Portions at In Seoul are generous. Their service is generally OK but can be slightly rude at times. Their loo is barely passable and I would advise you against using it.
As much as I love this place, I know that it may not be everyone's cup of tea. But if you love food and want to try something different, you should definitely make it here.
Pricing: Rs. 350-500 per person
Location: 530 (S149 & 150), TTK Road, Alwarpet, Chennai (Above the More supermarket)
Phone: 43009521, 24353377