About a week ago we went for an english department teachers dinner. These stop being exciting having gone to so many but I was quite surprised by how the evening turned out. We discovered a charming homestyle noodle restaurant in northern Chilgok with friendly owners and many types of unique teas.
The restaurant is located in Guam-dong in the side streets close to Guam Elementary school. I've biked around here many times and its easy to miss this sidestreet and restaurant. What they lack in exposure they make up for in atmosphere and hospitality once you arrive.
The interior is made in a very traditional style using timber style furnishings. Great attention has been paid in arranging many types of crockery for display and at table settings. These are in fact hand made items for sale.
Aside from being a restaurant and teahouse, this is also a retail store for many traditional types of crockery. It was interesting looking at all the different styles and table arrangements.
We we were then served a tea for starters. I dont know what type this was but we were to have many teas over the course of the evening.
The owner and her daughter then began to bring out the side dishes for the main meal. This consisted of 'sunjaebee' which are noodles made into small balls.
They had coloured their balls and it almost looked like cereal in the coloured broth. They were soft and chewy, distinct from other times I've had this dish.
Another interesting sidedish was pickled prunes which we ordered a few times extra. I'm told these are quite expensive so we were making the most of the opportunity.
Deceptively in Korean restaurants, after you thought the meal was over there was plenty more to come. They brought over a tea menu. Normally I'm not a tea drinker but some of the choices sounded interesting so I decided to give it a try.
The first was pomegranate tea. This was almost in a bowl it was quite a large teacup. It was very sweet and fruity and didnt taste anything like tea. In fact it was quite like soft jello mix after you had added the boiling water.
It was so sweet and strong I couldnt finish the cup but it was refreshingly sweet and delicious.
They also laid the table with many side dessert items. There was homemade walnut pumpkin seed cake, almonds, dried persimmon, and sliced dates.
An interesting one was four types of coloured jellied sweets. The brown one was red bean, and the green one green bean. The red one was cactus and the yellow one was pumpkin.
The round circles had conveniently been cut into quarters. We ended up ordering more of these as originally we did not have all four colours and wanted to try the ones that were served beside us.
After this was more tea drinking. The owner was quite curious and impressed that there were two foreigners at her establishment today and was eager to show us more of her teas.
After an elaborate mixing method between two pots and filtering the tea into a third, we next tried raddish tea. My first instinct is that it would taste quite terrible and bitter.
It was infact quite surprising and didnt taste how I expected it. Surprisingly it tasted like potato chips and was quite nice I finished the cup. Its difficult to make as you have to dry out the items for a month then roast them.
The owner was still eager for us to try more of her teas. Perhaps with a quiet location she appreciated having a large group as well as two foreigners which is a rarity.
Next we had marigold tea. This had a bit of a ginger taste and again felt like a meal similar to the raddish tea.
The owner seemed to take a liking to me and was quite concerned if I was enjoying the evening or not, which I was. When she saw I was enjoying some more of the walnut cake, not only did she bring extra over, she brought two packets of packed walnut cake for me to take home.
That was really unexpected and complimentary service that really leaves a lasting impression.
On our way our we saw more of the various jars of teas that are for sale.
The restaurant is not that easy to find at first, though its not completely difficult either. I took her business card with the address and phone number below.
Chwee Yun Guen
Daegu Bukgu GuamDong 811
Our bill was only 10,000w each ($10) for the noodle meal and teas. Its worth trying once for the friendly hospitality, homestyle charm, delicious food, and variety of unique teas. It certainly turned out to be quite a memorable experience.