My big fat Greek dinner
Editor's Note: Now this sounds like a great place to check out. Catherine, thanks for the great info! We'd love to hear from others.
Before arriving at Greek Joy I called to make sure they were open and the staff was very helpful, even offering to go out on the street to find us (we ended up at another small park; see bottom for directions)! Already, I was liking this place.
After finding the 2nd story restaurant we were promptly seated at a table next to a large window over the park (the park is refered to by some maps as the Playground). From the restaurant you have a wonderful view of the park (watching university student antics are free of charge) the street vendors selling scarves and jewelry in the Hongdae Free Market as Hongik University looms in the background. From this angle there is no doubt that you are in vibrant and young Hongdae. The window isn’t the only thing nice about the restaurant. The inside has a large mural that takes you to Greece’s sunny coast which goes great with the white and blue decor. I also liked the touch of color in the plaid tablecloths.
Side note on the Hongdae Free Market: The hours I found for this fair says it kicks off in March-November but I’ve seen several vendors out on Saturday in January. It may have been for some reason I didn’t know about so I can’t say someone would be there. If you’re in Hongdae it’s worth the walk if it isn’t raining.
For our early dinner we shared the Set A for 39,000 won which was a very good value. Our first course was a light a corn chowder like soup with a basket of warm soft bread. Next, perfect compliment to a wintery day is a bubbling dish of moussaka with zucchini and potatoes sizzling in a creamy bechamel sauce. My husband and I ended up tearing into our main courses before I thought to take a picture and after sitting down to write this I realized I didn’t write it down either. I do remember a tasty chicken sulvalki but I can’t recall the other dish so this review is not as complete as I would like. I do plan to return many more times and I will update as I go along.
Our waiter was very courteous and prompt with bringing our food and wine. Did I mention, Greek wine? Yes they have it, and one of the best things about good wine from Greece, the price. I enjoy wine in all shapes and colors. I don’t know enough about wine to be a snob but at 3,000 won a glass it would be hard not to enjoy it.
After we were done with our meal and contemplating another glass of wine John Chun, the owner and Chef came out to ask about our meal. He told us about how Greek Joy came to be. It started about 15 years ago when he went to California for training as a Sushi Chef. After it was completed he found himself in Toronto looking for a restaurant location when he came across a Greek family-owned restaurant. The owner worked with John, taught him the Greek side of the business and John Chun became a Korean Greek Restaurant Owner/Chef in Toronto Canada! Several years later, family drew John back to Seoul where Greek Joy is now at home in Hongdae.
Another interesting part of this restaurant is the top floor which can be rented out for parties and large gatherings. John says you can bring your own alcohol to cut down on the cost and of course, call for reservations.
I know I’ll be back here and I look forward to trying more dishes when I do. The entrees are a good price and the wine and side dishes allow you to enjoy your old favorites or try new dishes with out denting the wallet. I enjoyed the casual, warm and welcoming atmosphere, friendly service and great food. That maybe a simple recipe but it’s success where ever in the world you are.
I think this place would do well for big groups in the regular restaurant or renting out the top. It’s also a nice place for a casual dinner or lunch with a decent lunch menu. I’m pretty certain you will enjoy the experience and feel appreciated as a customer before you leave.
Parking: It’s pretty tight in the area although there are some parking lots a very short walk down the hill.
Directions: Before I say anything, I’ll tell you I’m a visual person so I like to see landmarks to figure out where I am. I’m working on get pinpoint directions from Google maps or some other program but for now here is a little map that I hope, helps.
Subway: The green line will get you to to Hongik Univ. Stn. Take exit 5 and walk past the Paris Baguette up to a big intersection. Turn left (stay on the sidewalk) and walk up the hill. It’s a bit of a walk but the hill isn’t too bad. There’s a large building that is built over a road that you’ll see pretty soon if you don’t see it right away. Cross over to the other side of the street when you get to the top of hill (T-junction with the University on the other side). You’ll soon see a little road going up between the buildings next to the park. That’s where you want to be and that’s where you’ll find the tzatzaki (and the Hongdae Free Market)!
Go visit Catherine's blog, A Seoul Food Odyssey for more restaurant reviews!