Gyeongju's traditional hangover soup (Haejang-guk), found everywhere around Palujeong Rotary, is recommended as a hearty morning meal. Wheat noodle dishes, made fresh at the time of order, and homemade soft tofu soup are also popular. For something different, freshly made croissants can be had at a bakery converted from a hanok (traditional Korean home), which is a uniquely Gyeongju experience. Here are some places in Gyeongju that shouldn't be missed.

    1

    Palujeong Haejang-guk

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    Palujeong Rotary in Hwango-dong is the Mecca of hangover soup (Haejang-guk) in Gyeongju. Several varieties are available, but the standard hangover soup here features buckwheat jelly (Memil-muk) and bean sprouts in a seafood broth. It also includes sargassum, or gulfweed and chopped ripened kimchi as a garnish. You wouldn't think buckwheat jelly would go as well as it does with the soup, but it's a staple here for a reason. Its refreshing taste is great for a morning meal.

    Location: 810-1 Taejong-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea

    Open: 24/7

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    2

    Byeolchaeban Gyodong Sssambap

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    Byeolchaeban's main menu is the leaf (lettuce or perilla) wraps (Ssambap), but the spicy beef soup (Yukbuchon Yukgaejang) and mixed rice (Gondalbi Bibimbap) are also worth a try. The Korean beef (Hanu) leaf wraps offer a mild flavour, while the duck and pork leaf wraps come with a nice spicy kick. If you can't get enough of healthy veggies, you're in luck because they generously provide unlimited leaf wrap refills. What's also unique here is the kelp wraps, so be sure to ask for some.

    Location: 77 Cheomseong-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea

    Open: Breakfast menu daily from 9 am to 10 am (Yukbuchon Yukgaejang & Gondal Bibimbap). Daily from 10 am to 9 pm, last order by 8.30 pm (Ssambap, Gondal Bibimbap and Yukbuchon Yukgaejang)

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    photo by Rowan Peter (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    3

    Metdol Sundubu

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    Restaurants specialising in traditional stone-milled soft tofu soup (Sundubu jjigae), around for more than 20 years near Cheomseongdae, are popular with locals as well as tourists. They make the soft tofu directly in the restaurant, so you can check out how it's made yourself. Plus, you can even take the soybean puree that remains after making the tofu. The soft tofu soup is spicy yet light and served in an earthen bowl. You won't find this unique soft tofu texture elsewhere. If you prefer a rich and savoury soup without the spice, the clear soft tofu soup is recommended.

    Location: 7 Bukgun-gil, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 9.30 pm, closed the day before and on holidays

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    4

    Hwangnam Milmyeon

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    Hwangnam Milmyeon, famous not only for their wheat noodle dish but also for the restaurant's wonderful outer appearance, makes fresh noodles just for you the moment you place an order. Once you've been seated, they serve rich beef-bone broth that has been slowly brewed for more than 72 hours. The Hwangnam wheat noodles can be enjoyed with seasoning made from various fruits and vegetables that aren't too spicy. Also available is the wheat noodle soup (Mulmilmyeon), which is served with a broth made from beef bones, chicken and various herbal medicines. The briquette bulgogi, a side menu, is the icing on the cake when eaten together with the noodles.

    Location: 12 Poseok-ro 1068beon-gil, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea

    Open: Daily from 10.30 am to 8 pm

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    photo by Kate (CC BY 2.0) modified

    5

    Gamnodang

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    Gamnodang only has three items on the menu because that's all they need: chewy noodles (Jjolmyeon), ramen and fish cake. It's a bit far from downtown Gyeongju, but the taste is well worth the journey. The chewy noodles can be had in a hot broth (On-jjolmyeon), spicy and mixed with vegetables without broth (Bibim-jjolmyeon), or cold (Naeng-jjolmyeon). However, you need to try the fish cakes before the noodles, as they make a great appetiser. You can even choose the spiciness of the soy sauce for the fish cakes according to your preference. Even with a limited menu, you can tell that the owner is into the details.

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    6

    Giwayang Gwajeom

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    Giwayang Gwajeom is a café and confectionery store operated out of a renovated traditional Korean home and is unique in having successfully blended Eastern and Western ambience. They sell a variety of croissants, from basic croissants to chocolate croissants, but they limit the amount per purchase so that they can be enjoyed by as many people as possible. They're even closed three days of the week and close as soon as the last item is sold. That means you should hurry.

    Location: 17-4 Geumseong-ro 182beon-gil, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea

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