새마을식당 논현본점 (Saemaeul)
Reviewed by Annie Namba on October 11, 2011 / Updated December 5, 2011
Aaron's friend was in town and we decided to give this restaurant a try. This restaurant is part of the "Bon" family of restaurants, which includes others that we already love, so I wasn't hesitant at all to give this place a try. It was indeed good as I expected. The place has a laid-back atmosphere where locals enjoy a drink or two after work. Since this place is open all day, you can also stop and get a simple lunch for just 5000원.
쌈: lettuce, cabbage, 깻잎 wraps
파무침: Made with long strips of green onion, this can give you bad breath but is a tasty part of the wrapping assembly.
Since this was our first time, we decided to order their famous items from the menu, 열탄불고기 and 7분 김치찌개. Soon our charcoal fire arrives, along with an assortment of lettuce and other leaves for wrapping, and some side dishes. Our order of pork also arrives and the server lays two portions on the grill. Thinly sliced pork is prepared with their signature sauce. All you have to do is to stir it up on the grill until it's done. When done, we wrapped it in lettuce or 깻잎 with some green onions and garlic. They did provide a dipping sauce for the pork, but we didn't find it necessary. The pork had wonderful smoky flavors from the grill and was not too spicy.
7분 김치찌개 (5000원)
Set timer for 7 minutes.
For the meal we ordered their famous 7분 김치찌개 to share. A pot of kimchi stew is brought to the table, then set on the grill to cook. You're supposed to set the timer (attached to the smoke hood) and wait for exactly 7 minutes before eating the stew. I'm not sure if precise timing really makes a difference, but it was one of the best kimchi stews I have had in a while. It even had large chunks of pork which enhanced the flavor of the stew.
This was quite a satisfying dinner and with some order of beers on the side, it made a perfect night out. If you love pork, this is a good place to check out.
One word of warning: Your clothes will smell like barbecue, even if (somehow) you don't do any barbecuing yourself. If you're looking for a meal to start your night, not end it, you might want to try something else.
- Food: 4/5 - Great tasting pork dishes! Portions are generous and everything was fresh. All that, and a low price.
- Service: 4/5 - Even during the busy times, the servers tried very hard to fulfill everyone's needs.
- Atmosphere: 4/5 - As the name 새마을 suggests (to Koreans, anyway) this place has an old school feel, with metal tables and stools. It even plays songs from the 70s 새마을 movement.