Restaurant Tour 4: Octopus Restaurant Shilbi House Seoul

My restaurant experience this month is from Seoul because I am here on holiday with my wife and think that when you come here you will not want to miss this culinary pleasure.The Kyobo book store is in a large imposing building in downtown Seoul on Kwanghwamun sageori road. Adjacent to it is a street typical of the area with an assortment of restaurants and bars. However, this particular thoroughfare has one of the most famous octopus restaurants in Seoul.

The proprietor of this restaurant –SHILBI HOUSE is LEE KANG SOON. The address is Jongno-gu, Cheongjin-dong, 227 Seoul.
Telephone numbers are: (02) 732 7889 and (02) 732 7880
Web address is
Opening times are: 10am to 1130 pm every day of the week.
A Take Away service is also available.

SHILBI HOUSE is centrally located. Turn left out of exit 4 at Kwanghwamun station on the number 5 line on the Metro and it is literally a couple of minutes walk away. The stop for buses numbered 103, 160, 161, 260, 270, 271, 273, 300, 370, 470, 471, 720, 721, 0212 and 1020 is a short distance away.

There are ten other restaurants franchised within the Seoul area but this particular one is the original and has been in the area for some forty years.

The owner and this venue have been featured on national television. From the outside SHILBI HOUSE doesn’t look any different from the countless other restaurants in Seoul but on entering it can only be described as quite remarkable.

It is reminiscent of a noisy and crowded refectory in bygone times. Wooden tables and wooden benches jostle with each other for space with barely enough room for patrons and staff to get past. The ambience of this the original restaurant has been retained by the owner to great effect.

It is invariably full at lunch times, evenings and especially at weekends. Conversations can be heard getting louder and louder as more Soju ( a Korean alcoholic drink ) and beer is drunk.

Many of the diners are perspiring profusely. This has nothing to do with the weather but with one of the dishes which has made this eatery famous-Spicy stewed octopus. It is not just hot but extremely hot and is absolutely wonderful.

The menu is limited to eleven dishes. Photographs of all eleven of them are incorporated in very large posters together with their descriptions –in Korean and English-and the prices. These are prominently displayed in the restaurant-a larger one, some two metres by three metres, stands outside the venue itself.

The eleven dishes offered are:

1. Spicy stewed octopus W16000
Very hot indeed-but worth the experience
2. Clam soup W10000
Clams in shells with spring onions
3. Octopus and green onion pancake W8000
Bland enough to compensate for the remainder of the menu
Served with soy sauce for dipping
4. Boiled octopus with Korean hot pepper paste W16000
Agreeably hot
5. Boiled fresh bacon and kimchi (pickled cabbage) W16000
The spiciness of the kimchi compliments the pork
6. Spicy pork and potato stew W10000
A perfect combination

7. Vegetable eggroll W6000
A plain taste again to compliment other dishes
8. Steamed octopus dumplings W6000
Well worth trying
9. Rice food mix with octopus and seasoning W5000
A good mixture of ingredients
10. Rice soup and dumplings W5000
Another filling meal
11. Rice with spicy pork and potato stew W6000
A great stew

As mentioned earlier, the Spicy stewed octopus is the most famous dish, the other two renowned ones are the Clam soup and the Octopus and green onion pancake. These three meals are probably the most popular but that doesn’t detract from the quality and enjoyment of the others. It really depends on an individual’s taste.

Whenever I go with my Korean wife and our family-the braver ones-we nearly always tend to order the three described above. These are without doubt our favourites. Other dishes are just as delicious but we tend to be creatures of habit. All meals are accompanied by rice, bean sprouts and LOTS OF WATER.

This restaurant is a must for anybody living in Seoul and visiting Seoul be they Korean or foreigners. They have to be able and brave enough to enjoy seriously hot and delicious food.

I have been informed that due to future development in Seoul in 2009 the occupants and businesses of this and surrounding streets will be relocated locally. Hopefully, the particular charm and character of this restaurant will be transferred and not lost.

As a frequent visitor to Seoul I shall continue to enjoy meals at the notable SHILBI HOUSE wherever it moves to.


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