I don’t usually eat out in Gangnam, but when I do, it ends up a terrible experience. I’ve always found myself go to the wrong restaurant, eat the wrong thing and eventually pay the wrong price. It pains me just to think about the experiences. Luckily, this time isn’t one of those times (or is it). And that says something because I’m widely known for being prone to tough luck.
The love for fish roe has brought me to 알부자 (Albuja) – a pretty popular fish roe soup restaurant among Korean food bloggers. The soup is often served as a drinking food at the hofs. Like many other Korean soups, it’s spicy, red and sour.
We ordered a pot of 알전골 (Al Jeongol/22000 KRW).
This tiny little pot consists of rice, seaweed and two different kinds of fish roe.
See how tiny it is!
I really liked this soup. It had a light acidic taste and it saved me many a time when I was on the verge of crying because of the spicy main dish. Great cure for hot food!
Here’s the problem:
The service was bad, if not rude. Though we had already been warned by the bloggers that the service could be outrageous, it was still a shock for me to actually suffer throughout the whole encounter with the server. He showed genuine annoyance when I told him to wait for 10 seconds for me to take the pictures, instead went on cutting the fish and mixing everything before I could utter any more complaint.
We enjoyed our meal albeit the unpleasant service. The briny ocean flavor of raw fish roe melts on your tongue as you feel the little bubbles pop in your mouth. When cooked in soup, the fish roe turns into a soft and fluffy bolsters with exquisite flavour and delicate texture, making every bite a pleasant bliss. The soup doesn’t reek of gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), which is a huge plus for me too.
However, when my friend clearly asked if 볶음밥 (bokkeumbab/fried rice) was included in the dish, that staff guy said yes. Guess what? Fried rice is NOT included in 알전골, but it is in 알찜 (another dish). The friend was hence so infuriated that I felt like she was this close to punching the guy in the face.
In the end, we ordered two portions of fried rice because really, a Korean hot pot cannot be complete without 볶음밥.
We were soothed right away when the rice was ready. The rice was moist, sweet just the way I like.
알부자 is not a place I’d recommend if you’re particularly sensitive about customer service. But if you want to eat one of the best fish roe soups in town, it’s definitely worth a try.
알부자, Gangnam station, exit 11: