I’ve never been a great fan of porridge, but I’ve always found it particularly comforting to have in cold weather, which is why I always make it a point to eat a bowl of piping hot porridge when I’m in Korea during the autumn and winter seasons.
Unfortunately, MiGaBon, the extremely popular porridge restaurant in Myeongdong which I used to frequent, had closed after struggling during the COVID period.
Our next alternative was to try Bonjuk Porridge, which is a chain of porridge restaurants that can be found all over Korea. We headed into the branch in Garosul-gil (yes, had to admit that it is rather funny to eat such a homely offering in a neighbourhood full of glitzy, fanciful Western cuisine), but we did it find it quite fascinating to see so many office workers in the Apgujeong area crowding Bonjuk Porridge for lunch.
Similar to MiGaBon, the signature porridge offerings include Abalone and Korean Ginseng, although they do present a much wider variety that includes beef, seafood, clam, etc. They also have sweeter options such as pumpkin and red bean, which works great if you’re not much of a savoury porridge person.
I wasn’t inclined to eat the Abalone porridge because I knew subconsciously I would still compare it to MiGaBon and end up being disappointed, so I ordered the beef option instead:
My travel companions ordered the Korean Ginseng and Pumpkin, photos below for reference:
I was a tad disappointed at how sparse the beef was in my porridge – I had expected them to be a bit more generous with the meat, considering that I was paying around 10,000 won (or more, can’t remember the exact number) for a bowl of porridge, but what they added instead were like minced bits?
I can’t complain about the taste though, I think they might have cooked the porridge with beef broth, which made it really flavourful. It made for a very nice meal to warm my belly in the cold weather, and was a nice break from all the greasy and fattening food that I was having on other days – think day after day of BBQ and fried chicken!
Personally, I found the pumpkin porridge a tad too sweet and I’m not too sure I would have liked it as a lunch option as I lean towards savoury treats for lunch, but I would have loved it as an after-meal dessert.
All in all I was quite satisfied with my experience at Bonjuk. As a chain restaurant, naturally the standards would not be the same as that of a stand-alone like MiGaBon, but I can understand why locals would flock here to settle their daily meals. I recommend giving this popular chain restaurant a shot if you’re in Korea and have no idea what to eat – I can promise that this won’t go wrong, and your wallet will probably thank you for it as well.
Address: South Korea, Seoul, Gangnam-gu, Seolleung-ro, 424 2층