Review: *CLOSED* AYCE Grilled Shellfish at Gyodae Volcano Grilled Shellfish (교대 활화산 조개 구이)

*EDIT July 12. 2016*
I have been notified that this branch in Sinsa has now closed. Two other branches in Seoul are one in Gyodae and one in Yeongdeungpo:

Gyodae:
서울특별시 서초구 반포대로24길 95 가향빌딩
95, Banpo-daero 24-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul, Korea
02-581-8980


Yeongdeungpo:
서울특별시 영등포구 영등포동3가
19-2, Yeongdeung-po 3-ga, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, Korea


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Grilled shellfish is a popular option for Koreans during beach trips in the summer but when you're getting the craving for these shells on the grill but still stuck in the city, where you gonna go?

Today's place specializes in fresh, live shellfishes which are grilled in front of you. Best of all, it's all you can eat so you can get your belly fill's worth when you're really in the craving.

The price is 19,000 won per person for two people but the price goes down the bigger your party (18,000 won per person for a party of three.... 17,000 won for a party of four). Once you order and the burning charcoal is placed into the grill in front of you, a variety of shellfish including scallops, clams, razor shells and more are brought out on plates, fresh from their saltwater tanks. Also provided are some kimchi, a few sticks of carrots and cucumbers and big old buckets on the floor to throw away your shells. For grilling, gloves, scissors and tongs are provided.

The shellfish provided at first were the ones with a bit of vinegary sweet red pepper paste sauce, also called "cho gochujang" (초고추장) and a bit of (cheap) mozzarella cheese on top. Not really my favorite but kids or those less familiar with shellfish will find these a good beginner level step. An aluminum foil container contained a little bit of cheesy ddukbokki in which our server recommended pouring in some of the shellfish juice during grilling for added flavors.





Shellfish on the grill 

Another variety of the seasoned scallops includes ones with a bit of a sweet teriyaki-like sauce on top with cheese. Both the spicy and non-spicy kinds are sure to be a winner for the young and the new to shellfish.


For dipping, each table is provided with a container of cho gochujang and soy sauce (with wasabi) for your dipping preference. While eating, the servers will come around and automatically bring in more shellfish. You can also request more orders of specific kinds of shellfish. 


The tanks are out in the open allowing patrons to see the workers scoop out the shellfish and put on plates before serving. As a reflection of their freshness, the shellfish vigorously open and close on the plates and continue to do so on the grill. 

The closed shellfish need to be watched and arranged carefully during cooking as to prevent under cooking (no one likes food poisoning, thanks) or over cooking. If the shell opens up completely and the critter bubbles in its juice inside, this is usually a good sign that they're ready to be eaten. In case you're not sure or are new to grilling shellfish, the busy but helpful staff will come around and show you how its done. 

If the shellfish doesn't open at all during cooking, make sure to throw away without eating. 


Some of the shellfish are especially big which will comes as a delight for shellfish lovers and as a bit off-putting for others. Feel free to use your scissors to cut during cooking but don't throw away the flavorful shellfish juice :) 




Chewy and fresh, the shellfish will come as much as you can handle. I'm not sure I can really taste the difference between the different kinds of shellfish but I was able to fully enjoy my meal... and I'm not even an avid shellfish lover.

If you and your party aren't feeling up for all-you-can-eat (AYCE) grilled shellfish, you can order their shellfish stew (조개탕) instead which comes in a small (for about 2 people), medium and large size. You can also forego the AYCE for a set of shellfish which also comes in the small, medium and large size. If you order grilled shellfish, you can also order seafood noodles (해물 칼국수) for 5,000 won per person which can be a nice, clean finish to your large meal.


All in all, the shellfish was fresh, the staff was attentive (despite how busy it was) and prices are pretty good if you have a big appetite and come with a large group.

The environment is boisterous and popular with groups for company dinners and large groups of friends so this isn't a place you want to bring someone for a first date. But if you're with close friends and wanting an (unlimited) taste of the sea for a good price, it's a great place to go.

I should point out Gyodae Volcano Grilled Shellfish is actually a chain with its first store in Gyodae (duh) but the one I visited was the one near Sinsa station so, like all chain stores, the service level and menu can be a bit different.

There's many branches scattered around Seoul (including Gyodae, Sinsa, Yeongdeungpo and more) and also outside of Seoul including Bucheon and Suwon.


Ratings: 3 out of 4 stars

Address: Many branches but the one I went was near Sinsa station. As the name implies, the chain's first store is in Gyodae.

서울 서초구 잠원동 15-4
15-4, Jamwon-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul

Telephone: 02-517-8980

Parking: There's parking available for customers at the Sinsa branch but with a time limit. I believe it was around 2 hours

Alcohol: All your basic Korean drinks are available. 

Tip: The kalguksu and ramen here are not your basic noodles and come with shellfish, crabs, shrimp, etc swimming in the broth. I was way too full to try it but it's a popular addition and meal finisher for many patrons.