However, it can be a little confusing to find. As you enter Insadong-gil, walk down a bit and look to your left for this street sign. You can see Jirisan at the bottom right corner.
|Insadong street sign|
Follow the sign and walk down the narrow alley. It will look something like this:
|Walking through Insadong alleys to Jirisan|
Walk all the way down and if you see this sign, you are on the right path:
|Jirisan Restaurant sign|
Make a left and you should see Jirisan Restaurant on your right. Getting closer!
The outside of Jirisan looks like a traditional wooden building. There is a huge menu on one of the walls and some trees in the yard.
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There is also a koi pond at the entrance.
As soon as you enter, you will be asked to remove your shoes before stepping onto the wooden floors. I was a little bit embarrassed to have holes in my socks that day.
|Removing shoes at the front entrance|
There are a few tables there, but most of the seating is on the floor.
When they find out you are a foreigner, which in my case was very obvious, they hand you a menu with English for foreigners. I couldn't help but wonder if the prices on this menu were higher than the prices on the regular menu.
I took pictures as I thumbed through the pages, so here is Jirisan's menu:
|Jirisan menu cover|
I wanted to order one jeongsik (Korean set course 정식) and one jeongol (Korean stew 전골), but the ajumma kept telling me "one NO, two YES!" I took it to mean that I had to order 2 each in order to order any at all, so in the confusion, I blurted out that I wanted two jeongsik and an order of bibimbap (mixed rice bowl 비빔밥). Way too much food!
My food came out pretty quickly. I barely had time to appreciate the fact that all the doors and windows were open, yet there were no bugs.
|Banchan from the jeongsik, plus bibimbap|
I didn't recognized any of the banchan (side dishes 반찬), except for kimchi 김치, japchae (stir fried glass noodles 잡채), and pajeon (little pancakes 파전). Most of it tasted good, but I wasn't a fan of the white, liquidy, tofu curd thing in the upper left corner of the bottom picture:
|Japchae and pajeon|
The bibimbap was very generic. It tasted like something I could make at home, so I think it was a little overpriced for 7,000 won a bowl.
Overall, the food was good, but sort of a letdown. After reading so many rave reviews, I was expecting Jirisan to blow my mind away, but unfortunately, it didn't. My main complaints were: the ajummas telling me I had to order 2 of something in order to order, the lukewarm temperature of the food, and the price. I paid 35,000 won total. If my lunch were cheaper, I think I would have thought it tasted better. Weird how that is!
Anyway, it was still a good experience. I liked the traditional decor and sitting down on bamboo mats to eat at the low tables. I would probably come here again, but only if I had nothing else to eat or if I was with someone who really, really wanted to eat here.
For more information:
Jirisan Restaurant 지리산 (智異山)
Address: 서울시 종로구 관훈동 84-2
Hours: 12:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Budget: 10,000 - 20,000 won
Top Menu Items:
- Jeongsik (Korean set course 정식)- 14,000 won
- Jeongol (Korean stew 전골) - 10,000 won
- From Exit 6 of Anguk Station (Subway Line No. 3), walk about 40 meters to Insadong-daero (the street between Crown Bakery and GS 25 Convenience Store).
- Proceed about 80 meters and turn left at Insadong-3-gil. You will be walking through small narrow streets.
- Walk to the far end until you reach a T-intersection.
- Turn left and walk a short distance.
- The restaurant is opposite to Dimibang restaurant, on your right hand side. (10 min walk)