Pyongyang Restaurant Chain – North Korean Food Available Around the World

Singing North Korean Waitress Dandong, China

Live entertainment at a North Korean state run restaurant in Dandong, China.

Traveling to Asia but don’t have enough time to visit North Korea?  It’s possible to get a taste, literally, of North Korean culture at one of the many state run North Korean restaurants located in the East and Southeast Asian region.  At the Pyongyang restaurant chain you can get amazing North Korean cuisine along with music and dance shows performed by actual North Korean waitresses.

These restaurants are reportedly run by the infamous Room 39, the North Korean bureau that is tasked with acquiring and laundering foreign hard currency and the distribution of foreign luxury goods to high party officials.

The Pyongyang restaurant is the perfect place to hang out at if you are looking to rub shoulders with North Korean spies and secret agents.  All the waitresses are required to live on premises and are closely watched by state security agents – reportedly several branches in China were shut down after escape attempts.  Clientele at branches close to the North Korean border are mainly curious Chinese and North Korean businessmen, while branches further afield focus on the South Korean businessman trade.

Wikipedia reports that the Pyongyang restaurant chain operates in the major cities close to the North Korean border along with locations in Beijing and Shanghai.  Outside China you can enjoy the North Korean experience at a Pyongyang restaurant in Bangkok, Jakarta, Pattaya, Siem Reap, Vientiane, and Amsterdam.

Dandong North Korean State Restaurant Entertainment

Live entertainment at a North Korean state run restaurant in Dandong, China.

My good friend Jordan Harbinger, co-founder of The North Korea Blog, and I visited a North Korean state run restaurant during our visit to the Chinese/North Korean border city of Dandong.  We stopped by the Lui Jing restaurant, and although what I write about above deals with the Pyongyang restaurant chain, we were assured that the Lui Jing restaurant was also North Korean state run and would provide the most authentic North Korean meal in the city.  While in North Korea our meals were always adequate but seemingly dumbed down for our western palette.  At the Dandong Lui Jing restaurant we were served up heaping dishes of the best Korean food I have ever had.  We dug into a serving of Yook Hwe, a cold raw beef and raw egg dish that was fantastic, along with bulgogi BBQ (we ordered 2nds), and a gigantic fluffy shrimp and octopus omelet.

Taking photos is not allowed in most North Korean state run restaurants, so I never got pictures of our dishes, but when the floor show started the waitresses used sign language to indicate we could snap some shots – as shown in the pics above.  The waitresses were totally perplexed by us, I’m guessing they don’t see too many western foreigners stopping by at the Dandong branch, but of course we charmed them with our limited Korean language skills and smiles, and had the entire waitress staff abuzz chatting about our every move.  We visited two nights in a row and was granted the special privilege, despite a no photo policy, of taking Polaroids and sharing them with the girls there.

One response

  1. Pingback: Amsterdam Pyongyang Restaurant Closed « American in North Korea

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