It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, and me and Cain decided to make the journey to the fancy and ever-so-instagrammable Sinsa area of Gangnam in search of a satisfying lunch.
From the cold and wet street we spied a well-dressed couple digging into a bubbling stew in a restaurant below street level. The industrial looking sign said DOGA. It was quiet, with a few couples finishing up their lunch.
The restaurant has under 15 tables, and is an atmospheric spot with low-lighting. For decoration there are a sparse amount of shelves with vases, and empty alcohol bottles galore. They were exclusively playing BTS on the soundsystem.
The menu is entirely in Korean, with no pictures, so we knew we were going to have to make a blind choice. We wanted what we saw the couple in the window eating. This always includes awkward pointing and an exchange of confused looks. Luckily, the server spoke a bit of English, and helped us figure out what another couple was eating so we could order that as well.
We ordered Galbi for 39,000 WON, which was served sizzling, and put on a burner to keep warm. “Please enjoy when it is boiling,” the server said. After he realized we had no idea how to get the meat off of the large bones, he asked, “May I cut the meat for your convenience?”
Now, typically when servers and restaurant owners see us walk in, they don’t bother to ask if we need help. They know on-sight that we need help. They cut up our meat, stir everything, and adjust the temperature so we don’t burn the premises down. We thought this was totally commonplace until we went out one night with friends and were told that that is not a universal experience. Apparently not every restaurant you go to insists on you wearing an apron, gives you meticulous eating instructions, or cooks your meal table-side for you.
But, I digress. Inside the boiling pan were sea-glass noodles, vegetables, lots of green onions, and beef ribs (still on the bone) in a delectable murky brown broth. The bakchan consisted of green chile peppers, onions in a pungent soy sauce, kimchi, and seaweed.
With rice at an additional expense, it was a delicious meal. But, while delicious, it definitely comes at a steeper price compared to other restaurants in Seoul that serve the same dish with less frills and less of a date-night atmosphere.
DOGA is a short walk from Sinsa station, exit 6. Walk straight out of the exit, turn right at Woori Bank, and then left at GS25. You’ll find it within minutes.
Address: 16, Dosan-daero 1-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul