Coming from a small town in rural England I didn’t really grow up eating much Japanese food. However over the years it has become one of the cuisines that I have grown most to love. It started with a sushi roll obsession, then moved on to the curry,tempura, and noodles and now I’m willing to try almost anything they make. Despite living in Seoul for at least 5 years I had no idea that there was a Japanese neighbourhood located just around the corner from my house in Ichon, and I probably never would have discovered it if one of my friends hadn’t taken me. From the outside Sujurantei doesn’t really look all that special, but when you go down the stairs and see the people waiting for tables you soon realise that this is no ordinary restaurant.
The places is owned and ran by an old Japanese chef. He runs his kitchen with precision and ease and I’m kind of a little bit in love with him. I want to adopt him as my grandfather if that’s not too weird. I’ve been to Sujurantei twice now and on both visits we’ve just ordered a medley of food to share, or rather my friend has, as the menu is in Korean and Japanese only. Though there is a picture menu if you need extra help.
One of the standout dishes for me was the mixed tonkatsu(모듬까스 15,000). Freshly fried fish, pork, and shrimp served with tartar sauce, salad, and a mound of sweet potato mash. The freshly fried cutlets are insatiably good and have the lightest and crispiest exteriors I’ve ever tried. While the center is filled with juicy shrimps, flakey white fish or tender pork. I’ve eaten versions of tonkatsu or doncass at dozens of restaurants before but this one really stands out for me. If you like Japanese curry then I’d recommend the curry tonkatsu(돈까스카레라이스) too.
I think you can’t really go to a Japanese restaurant without checking out the muster of their Sashimi and they don’t disappoint there either. I can’t do raw fish, but TFB adores the stuff and he was very happy with his rice and salmon bowl (연어덮밥 15,000), thin slices of salmon served over a bed of rice and topped with fresh wasabi and salmon roe. We also tried the tuna bowl(마구로덮밥 18,000) which was incredibly fresh and tender too. As you can see both bowls come with soup and an assortment of pickled vegetables.
Last time I got to try a dish I’ve never had before, Sukiyaki(스키야키 중식, 30,000). A sweet and tasty broth filled with beef and cabbage and other veggies, and a side of raw egg for dipping. A yummy dish and similar to shabu shabu. I think this could be a new favourite of mine, I adored the pairing of the rich egg yolks with the sweet marinated beef and cabbage.
Lastly two sides that are not to be missed are the Gyoza (8,000) and Soba Noodles (4,000). The gyoza are crispy pockets filled with sweet juicy pork and laced with the glutinous starch that leaks out from the side to make their signature spider web appearance. While the soft soba noodles come with a divine soup for drinking, a slightly sweet broth punctuated by a hint of wasabi, which I couldn’t seem to get enough of despite being incredibly full. I know it’s not the cheapest of restaurants but there is something really special and almost magical about Sujurantei and I’d urge all Japanese food fans to come and give it a try.
Sujurantei is located at 301-151 Ichon 1(il)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Ichon station (line 4), and come out of exit 3-1. Walk straight and turn left, and then turn right. Turn right again at the end of this road and you will see the entrance on your right, just a few doors along past Jamba Juice.For more information you can call them on 02-749-5324.