Review by Jonathan Balmer, ETA ’15-’16
Restaurant Name: Chongwon Restaurant
Foods Served: Vintage Korean diner food
Restaurant Address: 29 Dongseo 2-gil, Uiseong-eup, Euiseong, Gyeongsangbuk-do
The restaurant is on a fairly large street (relative to Uiseong). If you are at the bus station, turn right. There will be a fork in the road leading to Munso 3-gil and Guncheong-gil. Take the end which leads to Guncheong-gil. You will pass the 7-11 (with its very bright lights) as you do this. Continue down the street. You will pass Mr. Breeze Coffee and then Uiseong Elementary school (on your right) as well as the county government offices (on your left). Keep going until you reach an intersection which is after you pass Tous Les Jours (on your left) and before you get to Parris Baguette (on your right). You will go down Dongseo 2-gil. Not long after you turn, on your left (and on the SECOND–2nd– floor) is Chong won restaurant. Here are the directions from the bus station.
Cost: 8,000-16,000 W for an entree and sides.
I arrived on a Monday night with my English conversation group. There was no wait, but the place was not a ghost town either. The first thing you notice is the 80’s decor and the tacky toys and knickknacks ranging from a baby doll with sunglasses, to Pokemon toys (and very recent ones at that), to advertisements of American beer. There are rooms with curtains which house booths or chairs with tables if you want a more private area. Or there are the more public tables by windows overlooking Uiseong. We chose the plush green chairs in the middle of the restaurant around large round tables. While there was a smaller TV in the side of the restaurant, the owner projected a television up front as well. There was what appeared to be a full bar. I did not drink, so I am not sure. The atmosphere was a bizarre mix of sports bar (large TV), vintage restaurant (decor) and diner (the food style). And I absolutely loved it! With Uiseong offering mostly traditional Korean barbecues and fried chicken selections, this was a welcome change of pace. Chong Won oozed small town spunk– no reservation needed.
The restaurant was clean. Someone I was with went to the restroom and came back without complaints, but I cannot vouch personally for their cleanliness. I can vouch for the quality of the food. Your food comes with a generous entree, sides such as apples, the ubiquitous white rice, and a few other “leafy bits” (a term I’ve picked up for sides) that make it a nice mix of diner food. No chopsticks were given here. Beef soup was for our appetizer and then forks, knives, and plates came out for the main course. Unfortunately, I was so busy eating my 돈까스 (of which there several varieties from cheese to garlic pork cutlet), that I forgot to take a picture. My particular entree cost 8 or 9,000 won. It is fairly priced for a good sit down experience in a one-of-a-kind restaurant.
Since it is on the 2nd floor off the main drag, you even get the “only the locals know” feel about the place. The wait staff did not speak English, but they were patient and understood my horribly accented Korean. Anyone with a phrasebook or a smartphone could easily eat here. After the meal I ordered coffee and the owner gave us not after dinner mints but a full basket of different candies. It was delightful. I will definitely be back.
If anyone ever visits me in Uiseong, I’ve found my go-to place to treat them!