Jirisan Restaurant 지리산 (智異山) Review

Jirisan Restaurant 지리산 (智異山) in Insadong 인사동 (仁寺洞) is known for its good, traditional Korean food. It got lots of good reviews on blogs and on wingbus, so before I left for Korea, I made my mind to dine here.

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!

Jirisan Restaurant

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.

Outside Jirisan

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There is also a koi pond at the entrance.

Jirisan 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.

Inside Jirisan

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

Jirisan menu

Jirisan menu

Jirisan menu

Jirisan menu

Jirisan menu

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
Phone: 02-723-4696
Hours: 12:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Budget: 10,000 - 20,000 won
Top Menu Items:
  1. Jeongsik (Korean set course 정식)- 14,000 won
  2. Jeongol (Korean stew 전골) - 10,000 won
  1. 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).
  2. Proceed about 80 meters and turn left at Insadong-3-gil. You will be walking through small narrow streets.
  3. Walk to the far end until you reach a T-intersection.
  4. Turn left and walk a short distance.
  5. The restaurant is opposite to Dimibang restaurant, on your right hand side. (10 min walk)

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