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Finding Dakgalbi in Chuncheon

There are many areas yet to be discovered in South Korea. One of them is Myeong-dong street in Chuncheon. The city is located only an hour away from Seoul, but offers beautiful vistas of the mountains, lake and makes for a nice weekend getaway. On Myeong-dong, you will find a very popular food native to this city only. It is called dakgalbi, which is basically spicy stir-fried chicken with vegetables self-cooked on a stone table.

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Dakgalbi is prepared by marinating chopped chicken in spicy red pepper paste. Cabbage, green onions, sweet potatoes and cylinder shaped rice cakes are then added to the chicken mixture, which is served raw in a large cast iron pan placed in the center of the table. Think of it as your very own hibachi grill. The server comes out to stir-fry the ingredients at the table.

Dakgalbi is served with accompaniments of , raw garlic cloves, lettuce leaves, chili sauce and kimchi soup.  The proper way to eat Dakgalbi is to scoop some of the chicken and veggies onto a lettuce leaf, sprinkle sauce and 1-2 cloves of garlic, then fold and bite into it like a lettuce wrap. After the Dakgalbi is finished, the remaining sauce in the pan is used to stir-fry steamed rice.

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The best place to eat Dakgalbi is at Good Restaurant. It is one of the oldest restaurant in Chuncheon and well known for their traditional recipes. Moreover, the owner Mr Lee is very friendly and hospitable. Even though he doesn’t speak much English, he will check on his guests and occasionally blow up balloons.

For years, the Chuncheon region has been well known for its abundant poultry farms. The famous shopping street in Chuncheon started out with only 2~3 dakgalbi restaurants. Now there are more than 25.
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Sucheta Rawal

Sucheta is an award winning food and travel writer, who has traveled to 100 countries across 7 continents. She is also the founder and editor of 'Go Eat Give' and author of 'Beato Goes To' series of children's books on travel.