Om restaurant brings taste of the subcontinent to Seoul
India and Nepal have similar but distinct cuisines, so it was a treat to find both under one roof at a restaurant called Om, conveniently located near Seoul’s main Gwanghwamun Square.
A white neon sign advertises its name, and an orange door with a yellow wall lining the stairs leads customers down to the basement dining area. The colors echo the warmth inside, and the staff is very friendly.
The halal menu has mostly Indian fare, veg and non-veg, but it also boasts Nepalese options. Portions are just right, leaving plenty of room for an appetizer or two.
Who can resist a samosa with its flaky pastry shell filled with a spicy mix of potatoes and other vegetables? Papadams and vegetable fritters known as pakoudas along with soup and salads also are on offer.
Main dishes include biryani, chicken tikka and tandooris and curries with your choice of chicken, mutton and king prawns, or a mix of all three. Vegetarian alternatives range from palak paneer with fresh spinach and cottage cheese to dal makhani and other lentil dishes. Choose from fresh baked garlic or butter naan, rice or both.
There’s also masala sekuwa, which the menu intriguingly describes as boneless chicken marinated in spicy herbs and roasted in a charcoal oven “in pure Nepali style.”
If you can’t decide, the restaurant offers several tasting menus for two people or more ranging in price from 16,000-27,000 won each for lunch, and 20,000-40,000 won each for dinner.
A special Nepali menu with either kukhurako masu (boneless chicken with mixed vegetables) for 17,000 won (about $17) or a daal bhat set for 18,000 won (about $18) said to be served in trekking areas must be ordered in advance for at least four people.
Om has standard beverages including flavored lassis and Himalayan coffee or herb tea. It also serves liquor, including wine by the glass or bottle.
The restaurant’s decor completes a sense of the subcontinent with lattice wood carvings, imported wall hangings, elephant statues and other exotic decorations. It also helpfully lists the Wi-Fi network and password on a chalkboard with the daily specials.
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Location: The Gwanghwamun location is at 103 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul. The restaurant has two other branches at 125-1 Samchung-dong, Jongno-gu; and at 201 SK Hubgreen, B/D, 556 Dohwa-dong, Mapo-gu.
Hours: Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Lunch specials are available from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Prices: In addition to prices noted above, appetizers, soups and salads range from 3,000-10,000 won (about $3 to $10). Main dishes run from 16,000-40,000 won (about $16 to 40).
Directions: Take the subway to Gwangwhamun Station, then walk out exit 7. Turn around and walk toward the corner. Then take a right into an alley. The restaurant will be to your left and is easily seen from the street.
Information: Menu online at www.omfood.kr. For the Gwangwhamun location, call 02-723-4848; Samchung location, 02-730-8848; and the Mapo location, 02-725-4848.