자하손만두 (Jaha Son Mandu) is no undiscovered gem. This esteemed mountainside establishment in in Lonely Plant, the Korean Tourism website, and the Seoul Michelin guide. Jaha Son Mandu (or Jaha SonMandoo depending on your romanization) is a must-visit for any mandu-lover. With dumpling recipes passed on from mother to daughter for generations, Jaha Son Mandu uses a rustic meal and transforms it into an elegant delight.
The restaurant is in a reformed house, and the hardwood floors and natural light bring a bright and cozy atmosphere to the place. The windows face the small streets lined with houses and cafés and the green forestry of the mountain.
They specialize in plates of various dumplings as well as dishes you cook on the table to share. There are a few different soups, and the desert options were very enticing.
We ordered 만두국 (mandu-guk), with four multi-colored dumplings meticulously arranged. The dumplings were smooth and supple on the outside, and loaded with savory meat and veggies on the inside. The broth was soothing, and it was a very filling meal. I’m no dumpling expert, but because I eat dumplings every week without fail, I feel I can confidently say that the dumplings at Jaha Son Mandu are spectacular.
We also ordered chilled sweet cinnamon tea. Now, Lonely Planet says this comes free of charge, but I think Jaha Son Mandu has upgraded their menu since the last edition was published. Its a few extra won, but something I totally recommend. The tea was perfection. It was sharp and biting because of the cinnamon, but the temperature and sweetness were soothing. It was a great combination of flavors, and something I find myself reminiscing about on hot summer days.
Jaha Son Mandu is a place that needs no advertisement, but if you are ever craving a fine plate of dumplings, I strongly recommend it.
From Gyeongbokgung station, take exit 3. Then, round the corner and wait at the first bus-stop. Take bus 7022, 0212, or 1020 and get off at Buam-dong (부암동사무소). From there make a U-turn and turn left at the first intersection (before the bridge). Go up hill and you will find it on your right. (I am providing clear instructions because we got lost.)
Address: 12 Baekseongdong-gil, Jogno-gu