For years we’ve been talking about going out to Flores (a slightly-off-the-beaten-track barrio of Buenos Aires) and searching for Korean food. Apparently there’s been a Korean community in Flores for decades, but it isn’t a touristy destination like Chinatown; it’s totally the opposite. Most of the restaurants are not well marked, most of the neighborhood’s signage is only in Korean, and we heard that outsiders are not overly welcome and restaurant owners are reluctant to unlock their doors for non-Koreans (in Buenos Aires most restaurants are locked and you have to ring a doorbell to be let in). Apparently there is a notoriously impoverished and dangerous shanty-town right next to the Korean neighborhood, which means it’s not the safest area to go wandering around aimlessly. Additionally, it’s a long-ish trip to get out there and we didn’t even know exactly where to go, so it’s been hard to get motivated to make the trip out there, knowing that we might never find a restaurant, or might get turned away hungry. Then a few weeks ago my friend Heather mentioned she’d had a good meal in Koreatown and gave me some directions for how to get there.
So, Saturday morning we did a bit of online research (see helpful links below) and we set out with high hopes and only a bit of apprehension. It turned out to be an easy and DELICIOUS trip! We took the A line of the subte (blue line) out to the end of the line, the Carabobo stop. We walked down Carabobo towards the autopista 25 de Mayo and crossed under the highway, and soon started seeing signs in Korean and a few restaurants with their doors open! The neighborhood was definitely quiet and felt kind of deserted, but there were delicious lunchtime smells wafting about. We ended up at Han Gu Kuan, 2135 Saraza just around the corner from Carabobo. The old guy at the door gave us a bit of stink-eye (perhaps because we arrived at 2:00, which is a bit late for lunchtime) but he let us in, and the friendly waiter immediately started bringing us food! They have a set menu, which makes it easy, no decisions to make! We started out with a bowl of medium-spicy soup with tofu, then came a plate of deep-fried sweet potatoes, a small iceberg-lettuce salad, a platter of delicious rice noodles with beef and shredded veggies, and the usual huge array of small dishes with kimchi and Korean tapas-style snacks: eggy potato salad, fried fish, spicy bean sprouts, VERY spicy watercress salad, mysterious fishy things and oniony things and savory things and spicy things, plus a large bowl of cold, cloudy liquid with slices of giant-radish-like things in it. I probably should know what that was but I have no idea. THEN arrived the MOUNTAIN of marinated beef! I honestly think they gave us lunch for 4 people, even though we were just two. There was SO much food and a WEALTH of beef. They put a bucket of hot coals into our tabletop grill and we spread our own raw beef strips on there and it was SO DELICIOUS! the other Korean restaurants we’ve been to in Buenos Aires gave small portions of beef Gulgogi and we always leave wanting more beef! This time it was difficult to finish all the beef, but it was so so so delicious we managed to eat it all. Finally, they brought a few mandarin oranges for dessert. All this, along with a half-liter of Quilmes beer and a huge bottle of Sprite, turned out to cost $100 pesos even. Not terribly cheap, but totally worth it. We kind of had the feeling that we got the old “Gringo Tax” (that is, the same meal would’ve cost less if we were locals!) but it was still a great deal. I really want to go back again, like, tomorrow! I could totally see myself going back every single weekend, it was soooooooo good. Definitely even better than Bi-Won, which was previously our favorite Korean place in Buenos Aires.
here are a few relevant links we came across:
We were advised that Avenida Castañares is the avenue that divides the Barrio Coreano from the nearby villa, so one might want to think twice before wandering further in this direction.