CONTRIBUTED BY JULIA WERTS
Since having kids, my husband and I have come to appreciate The Beauty of The Buffet because sometimes, the convenience factor plays a huge role in a successful meal out. With buffets, you get: instant food (for starving and impatient children), (seemingly) endless selection, and free dessert (useful for bribing). But going to a buffet doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to sacrifice quality. When you find a buffet restaurant that serves good food, then you love it and cherish it and hold it near and dear to your heart forever and ever. One such restaurant is Mer Mer, a shabu shabu and sushi buffet in Mapo-gu.
If you’ve never had shabu shabu before, it’s definitely one of those must-try dishes that’s both delicious and fun to eat. Originally a Japanese dish, it’s been thoroughly Koreanized, meaning that it’s now served with kimchi. 😉 Like fondue, it was traditionally a communal dish, and some restaurants still serve it this way, but most shabu shabu restaurants prepare individual pots of boiling beef broth. Along with your pot of broth, you’re given a plate of thinly sliced beef, mushrooms, greens such as cabbage and beet leaves, tofu, dumplings, noodles, bean sprouts, dduk (or rice cakes), fish cakes… (options will vary by restaurant). You bring your pot of broth to a boil, toss in all the ingredients and enjoy!
As a buffet restaurant, Mer Mer’s experience of shabu shabu is a bit different. You’re given a pot of broth and a plate of beef, but everything else is up to you. You grab a plate and pile it high with all the things you’d like to put in your soup. And in addition to the sprouts, greens, dumplings, tofu, mushrooms and noodles galore for your shabu shabu, there’s a sushi bar with both nigiri and sashimi, Korean dishes such as chapchae, albab, jook and various banchan (side dishes), a salad bar, pizza, Chinese food, a fruit bar and desserts. Oh, and I forgot to mention—endless beer. Yep. Endless beer. And if you’re not a beer drinker, they also have wines (by the bottle, prices vary), but for a 1,000W per drinker corkage fee, you can bring your own wine!
The restaurant is expansive, and it’s a great place to take the family—rambunctious children included. They have four separate dining rooms, so there’s plenty of space, and they even have the ever-so-elusive highchair to keep little ones contained. Mer Mer is also a fabulous place to take a large group. A couple months ago, I took a group of 16 adults and 13 children (aged 6 and under) there for dinner on a Saturday night. The extensive buffet offers something for everyone, and the kids were happy, which means the parents were happy.
Mer Mer is conveniently located within walking distance of 2 subway stops: Mapo Station, on Line 5 and Gongdeok station on Lines 5 and 6.
From Mapo Station, Exit 3, walk straight until just past the Best Western Seoul Garden Hotel. Immediately after the hotel, make a right, then a left at the next large intersection. The building that houses Mer Mer is across the street on the left.
From Gongdeok Station, Exit 7, turn around and make the first left. Continue walking straight for approximately 300 meters. The building that houses Mer Mer is on the left.
Driving: From Yongsan Gate 1 (DHL Gate), make a left and continue straight past the Samgakji intersection and follow the overpass over the railroad tracks. Continue straight past Hyochang Park Station and Gongdeok Station. Immediately past the Gongdeok Station intersection, make a right (after the Lotte City Hotel Mapo) and follow the road as it curves around to the right twice to put you on Mapo-daero. These turns are only because you cannot make a left turn at the Gongdeok intersection. Make the first left (intersection just before the Seoul Garden Hotel), another left at the first intersection, then drive past the building that Mer Mer is in and turn right to enter the parking lot. Mer Mer offers validation for free parking for up to 2 hours.
If you’re using a navigation system, the address is: Seoul, Mapo-gu, Dowa-dong, 500
Mer Mer Restaurant is located in the basement (B1) level. There are a number of entrances into the building., but Mer Mer is most easily accessible from the entrance that directly faces the street. Just take the stairs or elevator down to B1.
|Adult (12 and up)||13,600W||21,000W|
|Extra shabu shabu beef||5,000W||5,000W|
* Shabu shabu beef is not included for children under 6.
Prices include: One plate of beef, endless broth, all-you-can-eat buffet, self-serve beverages (water, juice, tea, soda, coffee).
Cass beer (by the glass): 1,000W
Unlimited beer: 3,000W per adult at the table (even if you’re not drinking, every adult at the table is required to pay if the table wants unlimited beer)
Wine corkage fee: 1,000W per adult drinking (one time fee–you may uncork as many bottles as you’d like!)
|January – NovemberWeekdays||11:30-15:20||17:30-22:00|
|DecemberWeekends (Sat & Sun)||1) 11:00-13:002) 13:20-15:20||1) 17:00-19:002) 19:20-22:00|
Check out their website (www.mermer.co.kr) to see photos of their food. Although the site is in Korean, the tabs are labeled in English and not impossible to navigate without knowing how to read Korean.