Fwahwahwah! Is everyone interested to visit Seoul?? This blog just saw its personal best for the past two days in terms of traffic!
Sighs…. Part 2… I love to blog, but would really much rather blog my heart out about stuff (yea, like the HLP MATTER) than to do listicles of where people should go eat when in Seoul.
But but but… I sorta promised someone I’d do this, in fact I half suspect I’m late already. So here we go, here we go, go go go!
PART 1 has 13 recommendations and also a neat list of food alleys at the end. I’ll just be doing 10 recommendations in Part 2. Gonna blog about makgeolli and makgeolli bars separately since this post got a little too long to manage (I’m typing this on an iPad, and the scrolling’s killing me man!)
I’ve actually had special food requests coming from friends after Part 1 was posted. Seems like tteokbokki is popular.
So hard to spell this leh… tteokbokki, ddukbokki, dukbokki, so many variations! I nearly always can get tteok right, coz that actually means rice-cake, but I keep forgetting if it’s double k at the back or not. Anyway, seems like tteokbokki is the most widely accepted romanized version.
I reckon most of the first-timers to Seoul would probably check out SAMCHEONG DONG, which is also amongst one of my fave places. Quaint little shops, lotsa unique cafes, ahhh…. Take me to Korea now now now now now!
And oh, you cannot miss BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE at Samcheong-dong too! Lots of photo opportunities there!
While I’m at it and since I’m this nice, I’ll also give you THIS NICE LINK ON SAMCHEONG DONG. It’s part of the KAMPUNGBOYCITYGIRL’s 7-DAY ITINERARY series of blog posts. They’re a young Malaysian couple who often shares very useful travel tips, so check them out.
Gosh, I’ve written this much and still haven’t touched on anything useful, sorrrrry! Ya, I’m the Queen of Digression and the Princess of Rambles!
So, now back to tteokbokki! The reason I brought up Samcheong-dong is coz I wanna talk about this popular tteokbokki chain called Mukshidonna.
The name Mukshidonna is really interesting coz in Korean, each of the four words translates into (Muk)Eat, (Shi)Rest, (Don)Money, (Na)Leave (먹쉬돈나)! It’s effectively telling diners to eat, rest abit, pay up and get out ^^
This chain’s been around for awhile and the original shop is this same one that still stands at some obscured alley of Samcheong-dong. It’s quite popular with the locals and also increasingly, foreigners. So if you go during meal times, be prepared to wait! There’re wooden benches outside for you to sit and wait, and turnaround is fairly fast.
But I’d recommend going at off-peak hours like maybe in the late afternoon for tea break or something.
While waiting in line, you’ll be given the menu and you’ll be expected to be ready to order by the time it’s your turn. Here, the menu.
Hee, easy peasy, ya? Coz there’s Chinese on the menu too. Basically, menu’s sorta divided into five parts.
The first part’s soup base, and it goes by per head. Each serving is 4,000KRW, so if there’re three people in your party, then it’s 12,000KRW. For soup base, you get to choose between Cheese (치즈), Seafood (해물), BBQ meat (불고기), Army stew (부대) (i.e. budaechigae style with cheese, ham and sausages), and Vegetable (야채).
Then you can pick which noodles you want in the second part. Incidentally, the Koreans seem to like adding ramyeon to their tteokbokki, and this combination is called rabokki. In case you can’t read Chinese, Ramyeon (라면), Glass noodles (당면) or Udong (우동)… And oh, a gentle reminder not to leave the noodles boiling too long and eat them first before they become all soggy and mess up your tteokbokki.
The third part’s choosing what add-on’s you want. Many people like to add dumplings (고기만두), fried dumplings (야끼만두) and egg (계란).
Then the fourth part is to indicate if you wanna add cheese to your tteokbokki.
The last part…. choose if you want fried rice and drinks. If you’re not terribly full, I recommend trying the fried rice. How it works is you will finish the tteokbokki and they will use the remaining sauce in your hotpot to ‘fry’ the rice for you, keke! Try it!
I recommend checking out the original Mukshidonna outlet at Samcheong-dong. Here’s a map that I’d lifted from ANGELWY5451’s BLOG.
You can also click HERE for detailed directions on how to get to the original Samcheong-dong outlet.
Don’t want Mukshidonna and prefer more straightforward and simple tteokbokki?
Also can! I usually eat at the small tteokbokki stall at Myeongdong’s underground shopping, between Exits 2 and 3. Manned by a mother-and-son team, their sauce is nice (though a tad spicy for me!) and portion’s quite OK. We often stay at guesthouses around Myeongdong, and would sometimes takeaway tteokbokki from this stall. Can also ask for soup (Service! That means free!)
You can also check out SEOULISTIC’s LIST OF 7 PLACES FOR MUST-EAT TTEOKBOKKI IN SEOUL. Yup, yup, Mukshidonna made the list too.
Some of you may also have heard about tteokbokki alley?
Yes, there’s actually a street that’s lined with tteokbokki shops. I’ve not been there, but some of my friends have, and they say some of the spiciest of spicy tteokbokki can be found there. Well, you can always check ’em out and let me know! Click HERE for details on the tteokbokki alley in Sindang!
Mukshidonna (먹쉬돈나 본점)
Hours: 11:00am to 8:30pm
(Think it’s closed every first and third Sunday of the month, so please check if going on Sundays!)
17-18 Anguk-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 안국동 17-18
Anguk Station, Exit 1
Go to the right once out of Exit 1 (towards Olive Young). At the end of the street, take right to the street next to Pungmoon Girls’ School. Go straight up the street and before CU (convenience store) at the entrance of the small alley, you should be able to see Mukshidonna.
2. Yoogane (요가네) Dakgalbi
Yet another lifesaver chain, I’d reckon. For days when you really have no idea what to eat, Yoogane (read as yoo-ga-nay) is a good choice. It’s a chain with many outlets dotted around Seoul. There’re already two in Myeongdong and I’ve eaten at Yoogane at Hongdae and Hyehwa as well.
Yoogane originated from Busan and it’s been around since 1981. In fact, Singaporeans might even be familiar since Yoogane has expanded to our shores already.
It’s a one-pot meal. Remember what I’d taught you in PART 1? Dak means chicken! Galbi generally refers to the rib area. So dakgalbi is basically chicken from the ribs cooked in spicy (and also sweet!) sauce.
Other than the yummyliciously nice chicken in the equally yummyliciously nice sauce, what people like about this dish is how there’s lotsa vegetables too. Really oomph!! Really hearty meal at very affordable prices!
Of course it can be as simple as just having dakgalbi, or you can also order add-on’s, like mozzarella-stuffed rice cakes (YAY!), sweet potatoes, rice and noodles. Personally, I prefer the rice rather than the noodles.
And oh, the staff will pan-grill your order at your table, so you can sit back and relax. In fact, while waiting for the food to be cooked, you can help yourself to the self-service salad bar. They have coleslaw (lotsa cabbage usually) and also soup (not sure if it’s available all seasons though.
Hee, I remember the first time I tried Yoogane was, maybe, three years back? We’d ordered fried rice and the staff even cooked it in the shape of a heart!
Look out for this very striking orange and yellow logo! Should be easy to spot at least one Yoogane outlet during your trip since they’re everywhere!
Yoogane (Myeongdong 1)
66-6, Chungmuro 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
Yoogane (Myeongdong 2)
3-1 Myeong-dong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
Subway: Myeongdong Station, Exit 8
– Make a left and continue for 250 meters to reach the restaurant on the right.
– Make a right after Uniqlo and continue walking till you reach the restaurant.
3. Butterfinger Pancakes
I don’t know about you, but I love love love flour, so yea, i dig anything that’s bread, buns and pancakes! Have I mentioned pancakes already?
Way back when I was living in Australia, I would go to Pancake Parlour and have pancakes for meals. They’ve savory ones, yumz! I don’t think we have any decent pancake specialty restaurants here in Singapore.
So…. if you love pancakes as much as I do, you can check out Butterfinger Pancakes in Seoul! They’re like the pioneer of the whole American pancake diner concept; been around since 2006!
I can’t be sure, but I think there’re three Butterfinger Pancakes outlets in Seoul. There really ain’t much information on Butterfingers online, at least not in English.
9 Jeongja-1-dong Bundang-gu Seongnam (031-785-9994)
85-6 Cheongdam-dong Gangnam-gu Seoul (02-3448-1070)
1317 Seocho-dong Seocho-gu Seoul (02-532-5740)
I’d tried the Gangnam outlet, so I’ll share the directions for the Gangnam outlet.
Butterfinger Pancakes (Gangnam branch)
Hours: 07:00am to 03:00am
88-9 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
서울시 강남구 청담동 88-9번지)
Subway: Gangnam Station, Exit 10
Walk straight till you reach the corner of the road (The Body Shop). Turn left into the lane next to The Body Shop, and keep going, you should see Burger King. Butterfinger Pancake should be on your left.
Noryangjin Fish Market is the wholesale market where you can buy seafood on the cheap. Then you can either bring them home to cook, or you can go up to one of the restaurants on the second level and have them prepare the food for you.
I find this place rather intimidating unless you’re going with a local friend. The stall operators can be quite aggressive and one can feel quite lost and overwhelmed in that place.
For me, I don’t cook and am not at all familiar with food prices, so I can’t even tell if the prices quoted are high or not. For all of my eleven trips there, I had only been to Noryangjin three times. For all of the visits, I either had a local friend with me, or at least someone who could speak Korean.
But that said, it’s quite an interesting experience as most of us don’t get to see much of wholesale markets like this. And there’re lots of photo opportunities too.
So in case you’re going, let me just share whatever I know. Everything’s seasonal, some seasons you get lots of crabs, some seasons you get oysters (like in winter), so best to check out what’s in season before you go, so that you know what to zoom in on.
Abalone, salmon sashimi and sea urchin are really really cheap. Like you can get three abalones for 10,000 KRW and a whole big slab of salmon for just 20,000 to 30,000 KRW.
And oh, quite a number of the stalls hire Chinese staff, so they can speak Mandarin.
Anyway, just walk on and check out the seafood and prices and buy whatever you feel like. If you suspect someone’s overcharging, just walk away and buy from another stall. Plenty of choices, so no need to haggle.
Once you’re done with your ‘shopping’, you can proceed upstairs to where the restaurants are. They will charge you anything from 3,000 to 5,000 KRW per head to prepare your food. And most of the restaurants also serve spicy fish stew. Very good, quite spicy and quite expensive. You might want to check the prices before ordering.
And oh, one bonus tip! While you’re at Noryangjin, don’t miss out on OGANE PANCAKE!!
Noryangjin Fish Market
Subway; Noryangjin Station, Exit 1
Take the overhead bridge and you will find the market at the other end of the bridge (linked to Noryangjin)
5. Isaac Toast
This is also a chain with lots of outlets dotted all over Seoul. There’s one in Myeongdong if you happen to be there. Just take either Exit 2 or 3 and towards the left of Pacific Hotel. The Myeongdong one is a takeaway stall, whilst there are a few that are done cafe-style.
It’s apparently quite a popular joint with the locals, and they serve up wonderful toasts!! Lotsa to choose from too! You can check out the menu (there’s English!) HERE.
If you happen to stay at a hotel or guesthouse with an Isaac Toast nearby, try it for breakfast! You won’t regret it! And eat it while it’s fresh! (I’ve blogged about it HERE in greater details, so read!)
6. Star Cafe Miss Lee
Those of you who had watched CN Blue Yong Hwa and SNSD Seo Hyun on We Got Married might be familiar with this place. I didn’t watch it, but the couple had apparently visited Miss Lee’s Cafe during one of the episodes.
As far as I know, there’re three outlets in Seoul – Hyehwa, Myeongdong and Insadong. I personally like the Hyehwa outlet the most. But if you like, you can still check out the Myeongdong and Hyehwa outlets, which are more convenient in terms of location.
In case you didn’t know, DAEHANGNO (大学路) is actually within the Hyehwa precinct. This is traditionally an artsy area with lots of small theatres and play housese, earning its name of Play Mecca.
And there’re also many small character cafes and many eating places in Hyehwa. I’d say it’s quite a nice way to while away the evening or night just wandering around.
Back to Miss Lee’s Cafe, now this place doesn’t really serve the best food or anything, but it’s a themed cafe and it’s a really nice one.
Supposedly modelled after cafes in the 70s, there’re many old school stuff about the cafes. Other than that, they’re also famous for the notes and wishes from customers that are hung and pasted all over the cafe. Really, all over.
So funny, this blogger described in HER BLOG POST that this place’s gotta be a fireman’s worst nightmare! Go read her account on Miss Lee’s cafe and she has some very nice photos taken too! Hope she doesn’t mind, but I’ve ‘lifted’ two from her blog, do check out the rest!
This is a nice place to go for tea or snacks. They’ve herbal tea and also traditional Korean rice snacks. Not too sweet, not bad. And if you feel like it, they also have bingsu! Portion’s rather big though, I remember it ain’t cheap too.
If you’re hungry, then I recommend the dosirak, which is old school lunch box! So cute! You will actually receive a metallic tin lunch box and inside is piping hot rice, kimchi, spam and a fried egg. Do the Korean way! You’re supposed to shake the box vigorously before opening it. It may look like a mess after all the shaking, but trust me, it’s a nice gooey mess! Click HERE to check out pics of the dosirak and bingsu.
Miss Lee’s Cafe, Hyehwa
Jong-no gu, Dong-Soong dong 1-74, Seoul,
7. Hakrim Dabang (學林茶坊)
The drama of the year’s quite possibly You from the Star, starring Jeon Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun. In the drama, KSH’s character is 400 years old, so it’s befitting that he would go to a really old teahouse.
Like Hakrim Dabang.
Hidden on level two of a rather nondescript building, Hakrim is a certain scholarly air about it. And the strange thing is it does have a calming effect on people, you feel as though time slows down when you’re there. I like it very much.
Wah, this teahouse’s been around since 1956! Yup, I understand that it’s the oldest teahouse (or cafe) in Seoul! Over the years, am very sure they had to do renovation or whatever upgrading work. Am so glad they didn’t move with the flow and redid the place in some modern concept.
Anyway, seems like many Seoulites have discovered and re-discovered this gem of a place after the drama. And overseas fans too have been making their way there. I only hope Hakrim’s able to retain its original colours. I’ve seen too many F&B establishments lose their lustre the moment they start commercializing or pandering to kpop and kdrama fans.
I was just there in the middle of the year, and happy to report that all’s fine! *phew!*
Except that… too many people now wanna sit at that booth seat where KSH had sat in the drama, haha! The special booth seat’s right below the calligraphy of the cafe’s name in Chinese.
Anyway, it’s a lovely place with lovely coffee and also… they’ve the mightiest cream cheese cake E.V.E.R!
Hakrim Coffee 학림다방
Hours: 10:00am to 00:00mn
94-2 Myeongnyun 4(sa)ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울 종로구 명륜4가 94-2
Subway: Hyehwa, Exit 3
Turn back and walk straight; the Café is located along the main street and look for the signage
Or, Hyehwa, Exit 2
Just cross the traffic light and Hakrim should be right in front of you.
8. Beans Bin
One of the loveliest things about Seoul is the abundance of cafes. Some themed ones are super cute (yes, there’s Hello Kitty cafe, Rilakuma cafe, Charlie Brown, etc…)
But I kindda like Beans Bin. It’s a chain of cafe and waffles place, and they’ve really fab waffles! Comes with Haagen Dazs ice-cream too!
The chain’s everywhere too, there’s one in Myeongdong, one in Samcheong-dong, one in Hongdae, etc etc etc, so you should be able to find one very easily. Hee, even LADYIRONCHEF included Beans Bin as one of 10 best cafes in Seoul!
What to order? Waffles naturally!
One more tip! Come winter, Beans Bin will also serve hot mulled wine (Vin Chaud) and it’s really yummy! Korean winters are really bitter cold and nothing beats being warmed up by Vin Chaud when you’re freezing your butt off!
9. N Grill
For many visitors to Seoul, especially first-timers, one of the must-go places is Namsan Tower. Yes, that’s the place where you often see K-drama couples buying locks and locking them to the fences or whatever and throw away the keys. What do you call these things? Love locks?
If you’re celebrating a special occasion, or if you just feel like a nice meal with nice ambience, or if you wanna enjoy a nice view up at namsan, then you can consider having a meal at N Grill.
I’ve had dinner at N Grill twice and I’d say the set dinners are actually very value-for-money considering it’s a full course French dinner at such a swanky place and it’s a revolving restaurant too! So yea, I highly recommend!
But if you don’t wanna splurge, then maybe you can consider the set lunches, which start from 45,000 KRW. Seriously, the set lunch is a fantastic deal for the food quality and venue, if you ask me.
N Grill is a revolving restaurant and it sits at the top of N Seoul Tower and offers fab view of the city.
1-3 Yongsandong 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Tel: +82 2 3455 9297
Mon to Fri: 11am – 2pm, 5pm – 11pm
Sat & Sun: 11am – 11pm
Subway: Myeong-dong, Exit 3
– Go south along Toegye-ro 18-gil street to the Pacific Hotel and turn left.
– Walk along Toegye-ro 20 gil street until you see the Ministop.
– Turn right to walk along Toegye-ro 20-na-gil street.
– At the end of the street, you will see the stairway to the cable car.
10. Gwangjang Market
Someone asked me where to eat bibimbap in Seoul. Gotta say I ain’t no expect, but I did eat at one of the (supposedly) best bibimbap restaurants before. I’d tried jeonju bibimbap at GOGUNG (故宫) in Myeongdong.
Maybe I’ve got lousy tastebud, but although it was good, I didn’t think it was exceptionally good. Guess when it comes to bibimbap, I like mine hearty and with home-cooked feel. So I actually like the bibimbap at Kimbap Cheonguk best! You can choose from beef, vegetable or even spicy squid… nice!
Anyway, just in case that friend’s reading this in search of bibimbap answers… Hey, you can try Gogung in Myeongdong, or you can also check out THIS LIST.
Or… just go to Kimbap Cheonguk or Gwangjang Market!
Gwangjang Market is the oldest traditional markets in Seoul, and the food section’s very much alive and thriving, day and night.
The face of Gwangjang Market is quite different in the day and in the night… When night falls, you can actually see people rolling up their sleeves and having a drink after work. Makgeolli, soju, beer… just name your poison.
Gwangjang Market is a myraid of sights, sounds and taste, quite exciting. But can get irritating too if the crowd gets too packed and all. Oh well, it’s all part of the experience, I suppose. Go have a feel of the very local Seoul!
The best things to eat here would be bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), almost every other stall seems to be selling these. Mayak kimbap (mini kimbaps) are also popular, as are soondae and tteokbokki.
And… yes, bibimbap too! Super fresh since it’s prepared on the spot.
I know there’re Running Man fans amongst you, they had filmed here before too! It was THIS EPISODE
Check out Stall #47 for bibimbap!
So says BLOGGERS BEN AND RAE. Go to the South Gate #1 near the Cheongyecheon and she is stall number 47
Gwangjang Traditional Market (광장시장)
Hours: 7:00am to 10:00pm
(Hours may vary by store, 10:00am to 9:30 pm for food stalls)
6-1 Yeji-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 예지동 6-1
Jongno 5-ga Station, Exit 8
Eujiro 5-ga Station, Exit 4
ZZANG! Bonus links for you!