However, there are always exceptions. Good exceptions. Fabulous exceptions, in fact.
Genji in Hongdae is one of those exceptions. Owned by a chef who honed his skills at a hardcore Japanese restaurant, the food is way above normal izakaya standards at prices so reasonable that my friends and I actually worried whether the place was making a profit.
We were introduced by the chef's friend last year before its official opening. The chef was worried whether the picky and mercurial tempered Hongdae clientele would appreciate his style; after eating only a few dishes we all told him adamantly not to worry.
It's now being toted as one of the hottest izakayas in northern Seoul and it's impossible to eat there without a reservation. Bravo, Chef!
The place is cozy and not overly done interior designwise. Feels like you dropped in a friend's place and decided to eat on the indoor terrace. There are several low tables as well, should you prefer to sit the traditional way.
The first time we went before the opening, the menu was a temporary print.
Food! I'll just let the photos speak for themselves. In no particular order :
Let me just break in to mention that the saba sushi (above) was excellent. Saba is such a difficult fish; it is rare to find places that serve you sushi that doesn't reek, which is probably why it's mostly eaten grilled.
The cream tteokbokki is a bonafide fusion dish. We needed something heavy to down our umpteenth bottle of sake. Their sake list is not overwhelming but carries most of the basics.