Sandwiches in Seoul: Flat Iron
The Seoul Stop is on a quest. It wants to find the best sandwiches in Seoul. The first entry in our series is one that is going to be hard to top. Until further notice, Flat Iron is our sandwich champ.
Flat Iron is an obscure sandwich shop on an obscure street in Itaewon-dong. Don't be fooled into thinking this is just another restaurant in Itaewon, though. It is actually closer to Namsan than it is to Itaewon Station.
The duo that owns and runs Flat Iron is an odd couple. You-Shik is a middle-aged Korean man. He was a disgruntled company worker who had had enough of the corporate life. He quit his job and began working part time in the restaurant industry. While working in a restaurant, he met a Japanese chef named Jin, who is also a middle-aged male. Jin had always had an interest in cooking, and he went to culinary school where he specialized in Japanese and Italian fare.
"I wanted the restaurant to feel like a friend's house."
After working together for a few months, they decided to quit and venture out on their own. They put their minds together and decided to open a restaurant that modeled the flat iron sandwiches that are ubiquitous in Manhattan and other parts of New York City. At the same time, they wanted to create an ambiance that was informal. This is why they have an open concept. All customers sit together at one table, and the workers and customers are not separated. The customers are essentially sitting right in the middle of the kitchen.
"I wanted the restaurant to feel like a friend's house," says You-Shik. You-Shik has managed to create a very relaxed vibe. Although other patrons are quite close, you don't feel uncomfortable. You-Shik's relaxed demeanor also adds to this vibe. He is quick to refill your water, set the table, and recharge your phone. However, it never seems as if he is rushed. He does it all at his own pace.
While You-Shik has helped create the ambiance, it is Jin who is the true artist. Jin has combined his Japanese background and infused the sandwiches with a Japanese flair. Jin works at the back and looks like a chef right out of a magazine. He has long hair that is tied back into a ponytail. He wears a traditional chef's uniform and white gloves. Best of all, he takes his time preparing each sandwich. You can tell he is meticulous with each ingredient that he adds.
I personally think Flat Iron's best sandwich is their smoked salmon. The cream cheese, wasabi, and salmon melt in your mouth. You-Shik's favorite is the roast beef. They also have pulled roast pork and chicken panino on their menu. Each sandwich comes with three Japanese side dishes. The side dishes are also meticulously prepared. Ever ingredient has a purpose. Beer and coffee are also on the menu.
From the outside, Flat Iron looks unassuming. It doesn't even have a sign. The only indication that it is a restaurant is the picture of the sandwich outside. Regardless of the appearance, the food served inside is sensational. Please, don't judge a book by its cover.
The price is a little steep (12,000 won per sandwich), but I'd say it is worth it.
Flat Iron is open Tuesday - Sunday. They are closed on Mondays.
How To Get There
From Noksapyeong Station (녹사평역):
Walk out of exit 2. Walk straight until you reach a set of stairs. This underpass will allow you to cross the street. Once you are on the other side of the street, continue in the same direction until you reach an intersection where the road splits off into three directions. This intersection is 290 meters from exit 2.
At this intersection, take a right. You will now be on a road named Hoenamu-ro. Walk along this road for 250 meters. Shortly after you pass Paris Baguette, you will reach an intersection. Take a left here (look for a Tou les Jours).
You will now be on Hoenamu-ro 13-gil. Walk along this road for 130 meters. Take a right onto a street also named Hoenamu-ro 13-gil. This is a quiet, unassuming street. Walk straight for 165 meters and Flat Iron will be on your left.
Don't let the directions discourage you. It actually isn't too difficult to get to.