Supercharge Your Food Court Dining at Power Plant
If you’re curious about what has been piquing the palettes of urbane young Koreans this year, you can’t do any better than heading down to the Power Plant food court on the third floor of Gwanghwamun’s D-Tower. A veritable zeitgeist of the gut, the operation features five foreign food darlings: Coreanos, Manimal, Gilbert Burger, Pizzeria d’Buzza and Lobster Shack offering up basically full menus. Also, there is a well-stocked beer bar focusing on craft drafts.
Power Plant is a brand new venture from select street food company, Over the Dish. The enterprise aims to give the giant mass of nearby office workers a one-stop to nosh on high- quality, yet reasonably priced, staples of Western cuisine in an area previously bereft of well-made burgers and tacos. The food court also looks to be a boon for uptowners who don’t feel like braving the hordes of Itaewon food tourists.
Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, Power Plant works just as well for power lunches as it does for power couples. The interior is sleek with ample natural light during the day; at night the eating space feels glitzy with the centrally placed bar enticingly visible upon entrance. This isn’t the grungy food court of American malls or brutalist office building basements. It’s a comfortable multi-functional space for serious dining and drinking.
When entering, don’t be fooled by the truncated menu placed on your table. Take a walk around. Each seller has much more extensive options at their stall, an impressive feat considering the shoebox size of their kitchens. Lobster Shack, not to be confused with Itaewon’s Lobster Bar, has appeared to be the top choice of most diners upon this reviewer’s visits. For lobster rolls, you can go classic Maine or Connecticut style or walk the plank with novel variations such as wasabi or BBQ. The Maine roll set (21,000 won) here keeps it as simple as it should: chunky claw and tail meat coated in the requisite mayo on a buttered, grilled bun. However, some purists might be perturbed by the inclusion of cherry tomatoes and microgreens or think there is a bit too much mayo. Despite these minor quibbles, considering the set includes a heaping portion of seasoned fries and a palatable cole slaw, it’s a rock solid deal.
Manimal Provisions is an outpost of Itaewon’s Manimal Smokehouse and offers up a slightly different menu than their main locale. Their celebrated beef brisket is nowhere to be seen thanks to some unchill building hours and regulations which don’t allow for using a pure, true-to-the-game wood smoker. Instead, Provisions proffers forth some succulent-sounding sandwiches like one with pork belly and another of spicy fried chicken. The BBQ Chicken platter (26,000 won) is anchored by two sassy hickory-smoked chicken breasts, pleasantly charred, and includes a few sides including some unexpectedly welcomed mashed potatoes and gravy. Diners would also do well to order a side of the green chile mac-n-cheese. It’s golden baked top and creamy interior would be the pride of any Southern Baptist potluck.
Not to be overlooked, Pizzeria d’Buzza bids for space on your plate with ten different authentic Italian pies. At a slightly pricey 6-7,000 won a slice, it’s still worth getting a piece to partner the galbi taco you snagged from Coreanos. D’Buzza justifies their price point by going the extra kilometer ingredient-wise, sprinkling fresh thyme or grating parmigiana generously onto your mortadella-and-marinated artichoke pizza.
Altogether, Power Plant’s concept looks to be a huge success, taking hip, buzzworthy restaurants with a reputation for caring deeply about the quality of their food and giving them exposure to a built-in customer base already hungry for what they do well. Everyone invested in the health of Seoul food scene, not to mention the availability of tacos citywide, should wish this place well.
Location: D-Tower, Gwanghwamun Station, exit 2, 3, or 4
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mon-Sun