Hoho Sikdang, a Japanese restaurant with multiple branches dotting Seoul, is one not to miss. Well known for classic dishes with a neutral, delectable taste characteristic of good Japanese cuisine, Hoho Sikdang provides a pleasant, atmospheric experience for one looking to heal and rewind completely.
On a lazy Thursday evening, a friend of mine joined me for dinner on a quest to satisfy our cravings for Japanese food. It was the kind of day where we both wanted something that would taste good without being too heavy or rich; on days like that, nothing comes to mind quicker than Japanese cuisine does. It wasn’t my first time at Hoho Sikdang – I had gone once before, and was so impressed that it was the first place that came to mind. Though I’m rarely one to revisit restaurants, I needed a quick pick-me-up, and decided to recreate my previous good experience here again.
There are four branches, located in Daehakno, Ikseon-dong, Seongsu-dong and Dosan Park in Apgujeong respectively; we decided to head for the last branch, as it was the newest one open. All four differ quite a bit in terms of interior design, so you can choose a branch based on the area you wish to visit, or by the atmosphere you wish to dine in. I had previously visited the Daehakno branch, which is done up more traditionally in a hanok-style, complete with a small courtyard. Ikseon-dong’s decor also looks to be relatively traditional, while the Seongsu-dong branch seems to be the biggest of all, manifesting in a huge brick building that almost looks like a standalone house. Despite the differences, all four give off the same cozy, comfortable vibe patrons of Hoho have grown to love and look for with each revisit.
It’s easy to make reservations on Naver for any branch you wish to visit, so we went ahead and did just that, despite only doing it hours in advance on the same day. Thankfully, our reservation was accepted immediately, and we went on our merry way right before dinnertime. (Pro tip: I’m terribly impatient and thus rely on reservations everywhere I go. If you hate waiting too, it’s an absolute lifesaver. It’s easy to reserve on Naver nowadays, so even if you still get frightened making phone calls, don’t worry.)
The Dosan Park branch is a seven-minute walk away from Apgujeong Rodeo station on the Suin-Bundang line. If you’re coming from Apgujeong station, just like I did, it’s a reasonable fourteen minutes away, if you’re up for a stroll. It was sunset when we made our way to the restaurant, which made for a pleasant photo opportunity.
The restaurant is located in an immediately recognizable, pristine building done up with white tiles and wood-toned accents. Long reeds accentuate the softly-lit signage, right beside wide windows that let a fair bit of their own light in. The symmetry and simplicity of everything harbors its own beauty – one that makes you reach for your camera without you realizing. The amount of pictures I took that day is astounding, especially from a person that doesn’t often take snapshots of my meals.
The waitress showed us to a plush booth prepared for us on the second floor. Both floors are decorated in the same airy, bright-toned way. In the daytime, natural light shines in via the giant wall-to-wall windows; by night, a gentle overhead light illuminates every table.
As a party of two girls, we ordered their signature Sake-dong, or salmon sashimi bowl; a Sukiyaki set consisting of raw meat slices and a hot soup; and a giant side of chicken karaage and fries. Just one dish each would have been enough for the both of us, but we just happened to want something extra to try that night, which led to us ordering the karaage. We typically have smaller appetites, but we ended up finishing everything that night – a testament to just how good our meal at Hoho Sikdang was. The salmon sashimi was fresh and thickly-cut, making every bite truly satisfying, while the sukiyaki broth was flavorful without being overwhelming. Though both of us are fast eaters, we ended up really taking our time and savoring that one meal – there’s really something special about the atmosphere at Hoho Sikdang that just makes one feel at ease, which only adds to the overall dining experience. Conversation flows easily in the warm light; not just for us, but also for all the other patrons too. Hoho Sikdang is a great choice for dates or just simple family gatherings – it feels nice, special almost, without feeling stilted or overly done up at all.
Our total bill for the night came to quite a reasonable price. Though Hoho may cost more than your average off-the-street eatery, the ingredients used here are definitely fresh and of high quality, which totally warrants the price in my opinion. Given the consistency of the food quality and service here, I think it’s safe to say that I might keep breaking my rule of not revisiting restaurants just for Hoho Sikdang, again and again.