If you’re looking to chow down on unnecessarily large amounts of food on the cheap, try out this Korean buffet, “자연밥상”. 자연밥상 (pronounced “jayeon babsang”) translates something to the notion of “natural meal”, which is somewhat ironic as there’s nothing natural about consuming food to the point your stomach can burst! The main selling point is their 6000 won lunch special, with dinner costing 9000 won. This review is only covering their lunch offering.I’ve never been to this area before, but I decided to check it out since my friend, Sophie, invited me. You can find 자연밥상 by heading out of exit 2, 신정네거리역 (Sinjeongnegeori Station) and going straight for a couple of blocks. It will be on your left.
I was a bit overwhelmed at first, as there were quite a few people in the restaurant. I should’ve guessed that would be the case with a whole buffet only costing 6000 won. The seating area was relatively clean and modern, albeit somewhat unsophisticated. Most of the tables are pretty big, most likely to accommodate larger families.
Pretty much all the tables I saw had burners, so I think perhaps they offer hot pot during dinner time. One can only wonder, but that would be another very good deal for only 9,000 won!
They pretty much have only one main table with 90+% of the food and a few subsections offering rice, noodles, and eggs you can fry yourself. The offerings consist mainly of veggies and carbohydrates. There was only one dish that was primarily meat, but I was fine with that as it was pretty decent. As a whole, I felt like the food felt much healthier than most places as they weren’t overladen with salt. They had much more subtle flavors, which I instantly appreciated. Perhaps that’s what they meant by “natural meal”.
My favorite dish was hands down the only meat dish, which was basically pork in a bulgogi sauce. They had a simple kimbab, but it was a bit too bland and uninspiring for my taste. The fried mandu (dumpling) wasn’t so bad!
They had japchae (잡채), which is a dish consisting of cellophane noodles and veggies mixed with sesame oil. It tasted a bit mushy, but it was very light and fulfilling. The noodles were on the thinner side. I actually enjoyed it a lot, despite it tasting vastly different from typical japchae.
There was a hearty tofu dish covered in a starchy, slightly spicy sauce, which was very tasty. I came back to that one often as well as a noodle dish featuring very chewy, thick noodles in a sauce that’s somewhat reminiscent of 짜장면 (jjajangmyeon). It was a bit less bold than jjajangmyeon and had more of a soy sauce flavor. This was another favorite of mine.
I’m a big fan of seaweed soup (미역국) and was pleasantly surprised to find that they had it with mussels no less! I really like the flavor of seaweed soup and adding mussels made it much more complex. It was slightly on the saltier side compared to everything else, but nothing out of the ordinary.
One of the downsides to this cheap buffet is that you have to basically clean up after yourself. You will have to go to this station to dump all your dishes and organize it properly for them to clean. It’s just a small price to pay.
While not the most amazing thing you’ll encounter in your life, 자연밥상 provides a nice staple of decent foods to satiate the inner glutton in you. While some items were definitely a miss, I was pleasantly satisfied with the low sodium content and dishes that I found palatable. At 6000 won, you’re almost guaranteed to get your money’s worth and have enough money for ice cream in case you didn’t. It seems that Korean food buffets are in vogue these days, so if you know of any other good ones to check out, let me know in the comments below!