In a city with tens of thousands of restaurants, the concept of fusion food is no longer revolutionary. Indeed, it seems like every restaurant from your local jjigae joint to bigger chains like Lotteria is adding the word “fusion” to its menu — and then failing miserably at making fusion food.
Then there’s Simply India. The Daehangno brainchild of entrepreneur Hwan-gi Choi, Simply India has gone out on a major limb and succeeded. Choi’s menu is the product of a true culinary mash up: the fusion of Indian and Mexican cuisines.
Prior to taking on the food-service industry, Choi worked in international trade. While traveling, he noticed that whereas Indian restaurants in Korea were often stuffy and overpriced, Indian places abroad were often fun and casual. He made it his goal to bring inexpensive, authentic Indian food to the peninsula. And what about the Mexican side of the restaurant, you ask? Well, ever the businessman, Choi noticed that Mexican food was catching on in a big way in Korea and decided it’d be the perfect compliment to the Indian dishes he wanted to serve.
Located in a bustling backstreet in the Daehangno area, Simply India is easy to find with its yellow and black sign, which prominently displays one enticing word: curry. The interior of the place is a good balance of casual and formal. You’d feel as comfortable here on a first date as you would grabbing a quick bite with your friends before exploring the area’s many nightspots and theaters.
The menu features all of your traditional curry favorites along with various types of rice and naan bread. What’s more, there is also the option to try something a little different: one of the Mexican fusion dishes. Chicken Tikka Fajitas are one stomach-filling option; all of the usual fajita staples such as salad, cheese and various sauces are present, along with chicken tikka. It isn’t wrapped with tortilla, though, but soft naan bread.
“As you know, Koreans love eating meat with vegetables,” Choi says. “Therefore, we make our fajitas so that people can be familiar with them, and love it.”
To get a sampling of what the restaurant has to offer, try one of their sets (28,000 won to 32,000 won). There were two of us, and it was more than enough.
So what does the future hold for Simply India and the budding restaurateur? He is succinct when expressing his goal: “I want to become the most popular and trendy Indian restaurant brand in Korea.”
With the Hyehwa location as a starting point, he might be well on his way.
Simply India (Hyehwa Station, line 4, exit 2)
Make a U-turn out of Hyehwa Station, exit 2. Take the first street on your right (Daehakno 10-gil). Walk right down to the end and turn left. Simply India is on the left.
Address: Jongno-gu, Dongsung-dong 1-79, Seoul 110-809
Telephone: (02) 744-6333
Open: 11 a.m. –10 p.m.