Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Marie, Ewha (Back Gate) 마리, 이대후문

I had a pretty rough day, where nothing seemed to line up; when it came time to eat my dinner, I knew I didn't want any nasty surprises at the dinner table, or any disappointments, so we went to Marie, a local Korean restaurant that serves an abridged hanjeongshik (한정식) multi-course meal.
This place is not so much about mind-blowingly awesome taste, or next-level advanced techniques. It has been around since 1984, and it's location directly opposite of the back gate of Ewha Womans University has probably allowed it to continue on as it has for the past 25 years. 25 years for a restaurant in Korea is a pretty good stretch. I have been going to this restaurant occasionally for over 10 years.
It has a feel reminiscent of old Korean movies from the mid 1990's; it seems a little cute, a little foreign while being without a doubt Korean, and it's housed in a brick-fronted and ivy-covered building that seems like it would make a nice place to eat lunch on a rainy summer day. As it were, many Korean films and television shows were shot in this neighborhood, in front of Marie and other stores. I lived here for quite awhile, and seeing film crews was more than a weekly occurrence. It's a nice quiet neighborhood tucked in the middle of Seoul.

The food itself is nothing to write (home) about. It's your standard hanjeongshik fare; juk starter, gujeolpan - crepes with multiple vegetables for filling, a small shinsollo hot pot of meat and fish, jeon - egg-battered fish and meat fritters, an odd filet of sauced salmon, different kimchis, and then stewed kalbi (kalbijjim) and then a choice of bibimbap or dduk mandu guk (rice cake and dumpling soup) - we were given both, as I think they had started to prepare one for us and we decided to take the other. Taste was nothing out of the ordinary, and presentation wasn't either, except for small touches like parsley garnishes on the gujeolpan crepes - a touch seemingly stuck in Korea circa 1984. I kind of like that, I guess.

If you happened to be in this area of Seoul, and had already tried the many other good restaurants in this area behind Ewha, then this place isn't bad to go to. I am a sucker for nostalgia, so today won't be the last time I eat at Marie.

Prices range from a cheap 20,000W per person for a course menu, up to 60 or so, if you opt for things like fresh abalone and grilled fish, in addition to the above. One can also order items like the bibimbap a la carte, if dining alone.

Food: 2.5/5
Ambiance: 2.5/5
Service: 2.5/5

Location: directly opposite the back gate of Ewha Womans University, and a block or so from Yonsei Severance Hospital.

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