Almost in a form of reverse gentrification, Korean restaurants are slowly moving back into the Itaewon restaurant scene as a means to appeal to more Korean customers as the area undergoes a makeover amid Yongsan Garrison gradually closing up its base and taking its US soldiers down to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek.
While Itaewon restaurants still skew to international tastes, attracting both Koreans and foreigners alike, upon taking a glance at what is ranking high online on sites like Naver and what is getting hashtagged a lot on Instagram, you might be surprised to see an old school eatery named 네번째집 (4th House) attracting a lot of buzz with patrons taking up seats inside and at tables strewn about on the narrow street in front. What brings the hungry hordes to 네번째집 is its signature dish, 곱도리탕 (gobdoritang).
While not a dish exclusive to 네번째집, 곱도리탕 is a newer entrant to the ever-expanding Korean cuisine vernacular. And in typical Korean-style hybridization, the word and the dish itself are a collision of two other Korean dishes, 곱창 (giblets, as in the diced up liver, heart, gizzard, and neck of animals like chicken, pigs or cows) and 닭도리탕 (spicy chicken stew).
That kind of combination might easily compel you to raise an eyebrow or trigger your gag reflex, but this kind of thing needs to be tried at least once, and as it is considered to be a trendy 안주 (Korean-style pub food) nowadays, you would be showing good form to be able to brave some of the more adventurous concoctions that Koreans like to snack on when out for drinks.
If that’s too bold for you, 네번째집 also features some amazing alternatives such as Jjajang-ddeokbokki, ddeokbokki in rose sauce and beef brisket ddeokbokki.
네번째집 can be found in the backstreets behind Exit 4 of Itaewon Station, if heading south from the station and turning right before Troy Kebab, heading past JR Pub and then taking the next left. Be sure to refer to their Naver profile for a map in case any landmarks change.
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