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[Lifehacks] Fusion food for a Sinchon night out

Lunch table [SHUTTERSTOCK]

When you meet a Korean university student for a bapyak, a meal out together, the first suggestion probably won’t be Korean food, but will most likely be a form of “Koreanized” western cuisine like spicy pasta or westernized Korean food like carbonara tteokbokki .

While globalization has come a long way to integrate different cultures together, Korea’s welcoming of western foods is quite remarkable. Many international students in Korea say that they were surprised with the popularity of western food in such a culturally homogenous society.

Some might find it disappointing that not a lot of students are fans of traditional Korean food, but seeing how Korea’s conventionally strong and vibrant food styles interpret classic western dishes adds an element of fun to foodies that are new to the country.

This brief guide takes a quick look at some of the trendy restaurants in the university heartland around Sinchon, western Seoul.

Ragu Restaurant

Located in the heart of Sinchon, Ragu Restaurant is a staple for Yonsei University students who want to go out for a night of pasta and cheesy lasagna.

The restaurant offers Ragu Pasta that uses the store’s signature ragu sauce. Ragu sauce comes from traditional Italian cuisine. It is primarily a meat-based sauce named after the French dish ragout, and may have arrived in Italy during the Napoleon invasion.

The dish is simple and sweet, but the signature ragu sauce offers a Koreanized take and gives a spicy tang.

The lasagna is extravagantly cheesy with extra mozzarella. The slightly spicy ragu sauce pairs well with the crispy high-density “pizza cheese” that Koreans love to put on many savory dishes. While the cheese many classic western lasagnas use are soft or gooey, the restaurant uses firmer “pizza cheese,” a high-density mozzarella that many Koreans enjoy.

The restaurant’s atmosphere is very cozy, like you’re invited to your friend’s house in a suburban neighborhood.

Comfortable jazz plays in the background, making it perfect for an evening or lunch for people who want to get away from the busy Sinchon area.

A portion of Ragu Pasta costs 13,000 won ($10.26) and Lasagna costs 14,000 won.

Food served at Ragu Restaurant [KIM NA-YOON]

Food served at Ragu Restaurant [KIM NA-YOON]

Seoul, Seodaemun-gu, Yonsei-ro 42-24

Little Cuba

Little Cuba is located in the symbolic Hyundai U-Plex Department Store in Sinchon. It is on the 11th floor, next to several other restaurants that serve trendy international food if you want more options such as Hawaiian poke and Japanese curry.

Little Cuba serves a mixture of fusion western foods, and although there aren’t any Korean elements in the dishes, the mixture of dishes makes the restaurant unique. This is Korea’s own way of serving western foods, bringing together dishes from different cultures in one restaurant.

Combining different cultures in one dish, Little Cuba creates a unique taste that introduces you to different western cuisine styles that share similar or compatible flavors.

One is the restaurant’s Gambas Toowoomba Pasta, a dish that combines the Spanish shrimp dish Gambas al Ajillo with Toowoomba Pasta, an American pasta influenced by the Australian region Toowoomba. The spicy cream sauce and prominent garlic flavor encourage Koreans to love the dish.

Another signature dish is the Cuba sandwich set. The restaurant states in their Naver profile that they make the iconic Cuban sandwiches from the American movie “Chef.” The sandwich set comes with a side of Cajun style french-fries, Dutch coleslaw, and a mini fruit salad.

All the side dishes take culinary inspiration from different regions around the world, and the combination is reminiscent of a family-restaurant chain like TGI Friday’s or Outback Steakhouse.

Although the Cuban sandwich set might seem like Korea’s broad interpretation of various western cuisine styles, Little Cuba also offers more straightforward dishes like Jambalaya, which is a classically Cajun dish coming from the American state of Louisiana.

The Gambas Toowoomba Pasta is 18,000 won, the Cuban Sandwich Set is 16,000 won and the Jambalaya is 16,000 won.

Food served at Little Cuba [KIM NA-YOON]

Food served at Little Cuba [KIM NA-YOON]

Seoul, Seodaemun-gu, Yonsei-ro 13, Hyundai Department Store Uplex, 11th floor

Bahn Seoul

Bahn Seoul is a small restaurant located near Ewha Womans University, offering a simple fancy dining without breaking a student budget.

The restaurant serves Korean-Italian fusion dishes that have a clean and refreshing taste. It brands itself as a restaurant that expresses the free and colorful mood of contemporary Seoul cuisine.

The restaurant serves a variety of dishes, including their signature Creamy Five Mushroom Pasta that incorporates Korea’s love for mushrooms into a simple pasta dish. Its Sweet Drumstick of Chicken takes a dakdoritang-style chicken drumstick — a spicy chicken stew — but serves it in a chicken-steak style by adding steak elements like a wine-base sauce and cream cheese topping.

Creamy Five Mushroom Pasta is 15,000 won and Sweet Drumstick of Chicken is 13,000 won.

Food served at Bahn Seoul [KIM NA-YOON]

Food served at Bahn Seoul [KIM NA-YOON]

Seoul, Seodaemun-gu, Ewhayeodae-gil 87, 2nd floor, Bahn Seoul


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