5.227 Stars for Stars

-Cycle 5, Item 227-
20 (Wed) August 2014

Stars for Stars


at Dullaegol

-Insa, Seoul-

with various WHO/WPRO staff and guests

The Prodigal Son Returns to Kick Tobacco Industry Ass + Personal Deviation, Day 1.

For my first duty travel to Korea, I've been dispatched to attend a pair of back-to-back tobacco control meetings--more details in subsequent posts.  Both are in support of the lawsuit by the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) against the three major tobacco companies operating in Korea (see generally 5.059 Sweet & Sour Lapu-Lapu).

As 5 of the 6 WHO/WPRO staff who've come to participate in the event happen to be Korean--by sheer coincidence, really, nobody was brought just because of their heritage--we took it upon ourselves to host a casual dinner with the invited experts flown in from the States.  Actually, NHIS chose the restaurant, made the arrangements, and paid for the food, but for whatever reason nobody from the organization chose to attend the meal, so WHO/WPRO kinda became the hosts.

The venue was Dullaegol. 

Whereas most neighborhoods throughout Seoul have long since been razed and raised in the name of urban development, rerazed and reraised, Insa-Dong remains one of the few that has maintained its  old world charm--sort of.  For one thing, the structures are all there, but they've undergone extensive cosmetic reconstruction.  Even the alleyways have recently been repaved with new cobblestone, deliberately rough and rustically uneven, how cute, even though Korea historically never had cobbled streets.  Second, the businesses operating within, mostly restaurants and tea shops and art galleries and antique shops, have largely been modernized/stylized/sanitized, nothing like they would've been back in the old days, now reimagined for tourists--e.g., tables with chairs.  Nothing wrong with Insa-Dong per se, don't mind going there on occasion--haven't been there in nearly three years, previously under similar WHO-related circumstances (see generally 2.287 Hobak Galbi Jjim)--just saying that it's a bit too hyped and commercialized for the locals.

We ordered the Byeol (star) Jeongsik (set meal), 30,000 won per pax.

Dullaegol (둘래골) is a Korean restaurant.  Located in a refurbished/renovated/reinvented traditional Korean house (hanok) along a back alley of Insa-Dong.  Like the structure itself, the restaurant offers classic Korean fare with a contemporary flare ("classic fare with a contemporary flare"--that would make a great, if corny, slogan for a restaurant chain).  

bean porridge (2.25)

salad with sesame dressing (2.5)--nontraditional.

cold noodles with beef and cabbage in tangy dressing (2.5)--nontraditional.

gwangeo (fluke) hoe (sashimi) (3.0)

 jabchae (2.75)

 jeon (2.75)

galbi jjim (2.75)

spicy octopus stir-fry (2.0) + white kimchi (2.5)

deep-fried chili fish (2.5)--nontraditional.

seafood stew (1.75)

tofu with miso dressing (1.5)--nontraditional.

 doejang jjigae + rice + banchan (2.75)

pineapple--didn't partake

The food was okay.  Every plate came immaculately presented.  The flavors were reasonably well-balanced, though not particularly standout in any way, some dishes more generically Asian than classically Korean.  Overall, the spread was quite appropriate under the circumstances for hosting first-time visitors to Korea.  We all enjoyed the meal, fortifying us for the work that lies ahead.

The only shot that I got of the hotel exterior, on Saturday morning after checkout, in the taxi on the way home.

The 10 o'clock view from the room.

12 o'clock.

Somerset Palace is a residential hotel, equipped with a kitchen and washing machine.

Beyond the amenities, the hardwood floors make it feel like an actual home, so much more pleasant than a carpeted hotel room--weird staying in a hotel, when my home is a few kilometers away.

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