The truth is Seoul is an interesting place with lots to see, to eat and to do. I feel rather sad for the peeps who have only seen Seoul through group tours. It’s really not the same, and I don’t think you really get to experience what Seoul is all about through group tours.
I had been to Seoul eleven times, and most of these were pretty long trips. And I had gone on tour packages twice, so I should know. Heck, you don’t even get to eat nice Korean food when on tour packages, you know?!
No no no no no, definitely not the same thing.
So do yourself a favour and see Seoul on a free and easy trip, if you can. Or if really unsure and unfamiliar, take a short tour package and extend another three days or something to roam around Seoul on your own.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a tourist. What I advocate for myself is not to JUST be a tourist, but to be a traveler as well.
And I love love love this quote,
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never believed that an overseas trip is only about taking a photo at the entrance of places of interest. And I’ve never believed that we get to have a real taste of another country if all we do is to visit touristy places and interact with people who serve tourists. And the people you talk most to are your fellow mates on the tour package, from the same country as you.
Then again, different folks, different strokes *shrugs*
Oh anyway, again…. I digressed *hits own wrist*
Am blogging to share one more thing that you can consider doing when you’re in Seoul next. I know of many peeps who find themselves returning to Seoul trip after trip, year after year. Since you’ve already gotten the usual touristy bits over and done with, why not try stuff that’s a little different, and perhaps a little more local?
I know of people (and me guilty too!) who dread dental visits and would not go for regular check-up… only to regret whenever the big fat hairy toothache strikes.
But but but, fear aside, I’ve also noticed how sparkling white and bright Korean celebs’ teeth are! It’s almost strange considering how infamously much the Koreans smoke and drink coffee! Did you know that 44% OF THE ADULT MALES IN KOREA SMOKE?
So I’ve always thought they must have a pretty booming dental business, hee! And I know that the celebs visit not only the beauty and hair salons often, they also visit the dentists very regularly.
I have always been very, very, very self-conscious about how yellow my teeth are. In fact, I’d even gone for teeth whitening (which cost me over a thousand bucks!) some years back with barely any improvements. It’s also made me very reluctant to part with big money to try another or other teeth whitening techniques.
Teeth whitening procedures ain’t cheap in Singapore, each session typically costs $800-$1000+, although I’ve heard of dental clinics that include the home-care kit/tray (which otherwise costs $400-500).
Fashion and lifestyle blogger Moonberry blogged about her teeth whitening experience HERE,
Business and lifestyle blogger Grace Tan also share her teeth whitening experience HERE. Both Moonberry and Grace had included the clinic rates and fees, so you can have a rough idea how much these things cost in Singapore.
Young lifestyle student-blogger Joey Ong was also sponsored one teeth whitening session very recently and you can read about it HERE, and in her blog, she’d included a $188 promo. Yea, I know, incredibly cheap. You could go find out more, maybe they’re hoping that people would sign up for a second session or buy the home-care kit or something. Not sure. But it sure appears that Joey had a fairly pleasant experience there.
Other than the incredible offer on Joey’s blog, I guess it’s safe to say that teeth whitening procedures ain’t cheap here. Perhaps that’s why this MyFatPocket blogger Jessie Ting had gone to Bangkok to get hers done. Read more about it HERE.
So now, back to my experience in Seoul…
I had done some googling, and found lots of expats sharing online, all exclaiming about how affordable dental care is in Korea, and most also raved about the as-pleasant-as-dental-visits-can-get experience, hehe!
Live Dental Clinic also has a WEBSITE. I’ve no idea why it’s called Bom Dental, but anyway, it’s all in Korean. So hehe, check out and contact them via FACEBOOK instead.
When I was in Seoul in May/June last year, Live Dental Clinic had an English-speaking staff to manage its enquiries. It was Karen who had attended to us. She replied to our email very promptly, and provided information clearly and even offered details that she thought might be useful to us.
The email enquiries quickly progressed to text messages and phone calls since we were on the move most of the time. Again, she was very responsive, clear and very helpful. Especially with the rates and what those rates included. Very, very clear.
I had enquired about teeth whitening for E and myself. She had told us that it’s 300,000KRW for each session, and some people may require two sessions. The interval between sessions should be a minimum of three days.
If we had needed or wanted the home-care kit, that would be 400,000KRW.
What I liked was how I could commit to just one session first, which was a rather affordable 300,000KRW. If i liked the results, then I could go back for a second session, or just buy the home-care kit. So E and I confirmed an appointment.
Off we went!
The nearest subway station to Live Dental Clinic is Hanti station (yellow line).
Come up via Exit 2.
It’s about 5-10 minutes walk. For us, Karen kindly met us to take us to the clinic. I suppose when it’s your turn, you can choose to ask for detailed directions, or ask your ‘Karen’ to meet you at the station, hehe!
I’ll share a map at the end of the post, but I’ll also share here some pics that the clinic has uploaded on their Facebook page on how to get there.
You will see Lotte Department Store when you come up from Exit 2, just walk alongside Lotte (facing Lotte, walk towards your right) until you hit the end of the building. Then turn left and keep walking.
We’re here, we’re here!
Live Dental Clinic has three resident dentists, I believe. And they also have what looked like a small army of highly efficient assistants.
Gotta say it’s quite different from the dental clinics that I had been in Singapore. This one feels more ‘premium and luxurious’…
The reception area is very spacious! And there’re like magazines, newspapers and even beverages! Nice!
For our first visit, we didn’t linger long in the reception area as we were whisked inside after Karen helped us fill in the forms.
Here, the inside.
Quite nice hor?
The not-so-scary dentist’s chair, hee!
Hehe, there’s free wifi too. But I didn’t fuss myself with that since the dentist’s chair ain’t exactly the most comfortable nor suitable place to be surfing the world wide web.
There’s a screen where the dentist can show you x-ray of your teeth to explain stuff to you. Like showing you where your cavities are, or where filling has fallen off, or whatever.
Surprisingly, despite the initial fear of communication since I don’t speak Korean, everything went on fine. The dentist can understand English, and he speak a little English.
Other than a dental assistant who is very friendly and smiley, Karen was also on hand to help translate what the dentist said, and also to convey what I wanted to say to the dentist.
Now, remember was there for cleaning, and also teeth whitening?
The dentist checked my teeth and said that I might not see big improvement after the whitening procedure as the natural colour of my teeth is greyish. I asked about what if I went back for two sessions. He said it would still be unlikely for me to get sparkling white pearlies. He’s pretty certain there won’t be that much brightening effect. *sad face*
So I decided to skip the teeth whitening, and just do the cleaning. The cleaning’s only 60,000KRW!! *surprised*
It was a fab experience, not scary, not painful.
And oh, I also got onlay for my cavities. An onlay is something in between a filling and a crowning. I remember googling there and then for onlay prices in Singapore, and that it’s about half the price to do it in Seoul. (Sorry, I forgot the exact amount.)
So it’s a no-brainer and I did it.
Ya, they even provided sweet polka-dotted blankies for me! Just in case you’re cold, but more coz I was wearing a dress.
And oh, hee, I stole a photo of E having her teeth checked, cleaned and scaled!
Other than the washroom which is outside the clinic, they actually set up a small powder room inside the clinic for us gals to freshen up after seeing the dentist!
The Koreans think of everything!
The onlay required a follow-up trip coz making the mould took time. So we went back again for a second visit a few days later.
This time around, I made sure I had coffee, hehe!
Mind you, it’s not just about the affordable prices. The experience was also pleasant coz the dentist who had attended to me had a nice, firm touch. He was also not hurried and took time to explain things, and waited patiently whilst Karen translated stuff to me. Karen was great too, as she made sure repeatedly that I understood what’s going on. She even explained each step of what the dentist was doing.
All in, it was a fab experience. So pleasant and affordable that I’m even thinking to go visit the dentist every time I’m in Seou, bwahwahwah!
I don’t know if there’re really many many many Singaporeans traveling to Seoul all the time, or if it’s a case of I’ve (too!) many friends who love Seoul and are always heading there. There’s always someone I know In Seoul, or gonna be traveling to Seoul soooooon!
One young friend was just there the week two weekends ago, and one has been there for a month and still counting!
Hee, she happens to be a very dear dongsaeng of mine. Actually she’s the youngest of the circle of friends we have, and we refer to her as wuri maknae. ‘Wuri‘ means ‘our‘, and ‘maknae‘ refers to the youngest one.
Taken of us in the subway when we were in Seoul back in 2013. Hehe, couldn’t find a more recent pic of us in the subway other than this.
I often marvel at how the oldest in the group can get along so well with the maknae of the group. The age gap is HUGE! In fact, I’m sooooo… much older than wuri maknae that I can practically be her mother!
And… one dear colleague is there now too. Check out her auto-responder email that brings out the green monsters in all of us!
So funny, right?! I love my colleagues, you know! What an incredible bunch of funnies with a whole truckload full of smarts, bwahwahwah!
Anyway, I’m gonna blog about T-Money!
T-Money to Koreans is like what Ez Link cards are to Singaporeans. Yup, these are stored value cards that you can use on the subway, buses, some taxies and even to pay for purchases at selected retailers.
The boring ones look like this, and you can buy them (2,500 KRW) at one of those vending machines in the subway stations.
Compared to buying single journey fares each time, it’s a lot more convenient to use the stored value cards. Besides, there’s a 100 KRW discount for each trip that you take using the T-Money. Transfers from subway to bus, from bus to subway, from bus to bus within a 30-minute timeframe are also free.
There’s another type of T-Money cards that cater to short-term travelers in Seoul, and they are called Seoul City Passes. I understand that these are only available for sale at Incheon Airport.
Seoul City Pass Plus is a T-Money card with with all the usual T-Money features, and it also comes with discount coupons at participating retailers and other establishments like tourist attractions. There’s no Seoul City Tour Bus rides on this card, just discounts.
Then there is the Seoul City Pass, which allows you 20 rides per day on buses and trains, as well as unlimited rides on the Seoul City Tour Bus. There are 1, 2 & 3-day versions.
So why am I blogging about something so simple that all of you would know? Hehe, coz I think quite a number of first-timers to Seoul do not know that there’re also T-Money cellphone charms!
I know of peeps who love love love Rilakuma!
And hello, Hello Kitty!
They would release different designs at different times, based on what is popular and what is hot. I’ve even seen Angry Bird charms in the past when that game was all the rage.
These are available only at convenience stores, usually on display right behind the cashier at the counter. Depending on the design, these usually go for 5,000-8,000 KRW. That’s just to buy the charm.
There’s zero value in these T-Money cellphone charms, so you will have to top up the value. You can do charge or recharge at the convenience stores or you can use the machines at the subway stations.
So, what character cellphone charm do I use? Here’s a clue, haha!
Yup yup, mine’s a Mickey!
I have both the white and the black.
Since we’re talking about T-Money and subway, let me just share something kindda random. My most recent trip to Seoul was last May/June.
This photo was a reflection of ourselves when we were waiting for a train at the subway platform. I remember this was after shopping at Lotte Mart at Seoul Station, hee!
You know how the women and girls in Korean dramas always get piggyback-rides?
So it’s real, it’s real, it’s real..!!
That night at the subway station, we saw a guy piggyback his girlfriend up a loooooong flight of steps!!
And believe, you, me… Steps and stairs ain’t no joke in Seoul! There’re lots and lots of them, and they’re usually seemingly endless!
So, now you know! If you’re reading that way and wish to check out or buy the cellphone charm T-Money, check out the convenience stores!
And oh, different chains and stores carry different stocks, so have fun checking them out!
I TWEET (A TEENY WEENY BIT) BETTER THAN I TAKE IG PHOTOS!
What’s it with me anyway?
Why do I nearly always like the least popular things? And mind you, that’s even when I know perfectly well or can predict accurately which is the ones that are gonna fly. I just somehow have an unexplainable affinity for the ‘underdogs’, the least favoured ones *shrugs*
I like Twitter for its brevity. I don’t really follow friends on Twitter, not many of my friends are there anyway. But I love the ease of use, the brevity of it all. And I love how it doesn’t play God like Facebook does. It delivers ALL the tweets of the Twitter accounts I choose to follow.
Another fab feature Twitter has its list function. Check mine out!
I like how neat, fast and short Twitter is.
With the list function, I can call up any of them (I group them by category and interest), and can catch up on the latest news or gossip very very quickly, especially on the go. And if I see any that I’m interested in, then I click in.
PICKING BONES WITH INSTAGRAM
Anyway, this post is about Instagram, haha!
Guess I’m just a lot more textual than visual, therefore the appeal of Twitter is more stronger than Instagram. Especially after a while, Instagram feeds seem to be an endless parade of fashion, food, glam gals, fashion, food, glam gals.
Two of the pet peeves I have about Instagram are that I can’t click on links in the Instagram post, and that I can’t zoom in.
Resharing is also troublesome. I’ll be the first to admit that I dislike stuff that are overly complicated or lay-lay-chay-chay.
DO YOU REGRAM?
But but but, things improved A LITTLE after I found this app called REGRAM 7.
Actually there’re many similar regram apps, it’s just that this was the first that I’d downloaded and tried, so I stuck with it since it worked decently enough for me.
With the Regram app, you can actually zoom into the image! Ya, just pinch and stretch as you would with images on your mobile devices. Easy-peasy.
That’s not all! You can also regram easily. The app allows you to credit the original uploader and also allows you to add whatever comments or tag whoever you want.
Check this Instagram post that I’ve regrammed.
HAHA, I INSTAWEATHER!
Since I’m already yakking away about Instagram, I might as well ‘bare all’ and share with you two other things. Or maybe everyone is already using these, haha!
I also have two other Insta apps that I usually only use when I’m overseas.
Me really likey the Instaweather app!
Here, check out some of the skins.
I like how you can actually ‘freeze’ that moment in time and ‘record’ the temperature and other details.
Fab for peeps like us who live in the tropics and hardly experience any variation in season and temperature, ya?
I INSTAPLACE TOO!
Heard of the Instaplace app? It’s also a pretty neat app to have when you’re on hols or traveling!
Here’s a sample of what you can do.
There’re lots more, so do download and play if you don’t already have this.
For both Instaweather and Instaplace apps, you can either take photos in-app, or you can always take the photos first and then import into the apps to apply the skin over.
Do note that for the latter, you might wanna leave some white space around the border, or the top or bottom for where you want the Instaweather or Instaplace text to go onto.
Okies, I’m done with all the Insta business! Hope it’s useful.
Despite my rather long ‘history’ of visiting Korea and all, I didn’t have my first taste of this Korean specialty, Ganjang Gejang (raw crabs marinated in soy sauce) until last year.
You might have read HERE how it was an unimaginably amazing meeting for me and crab that summer evening in Seoul.
Truth be told, I’d never thought that love at first sight could be this heart-stoppingly dramatic. So dramatic that I literally swore at first bite.
These four words escaped my lips at my first taste of ganjang gejang.
OH MY EFFING GOD.
And mind you, I ain’t one to swear normally. It had tasted that goooooood to me. Nothing prepared me for how richly flavourful the dish was!
Anyway, I had first heard about this from one of Shinhwa Broadcast episodes, and I knew that I had to try it. Then later, I also saw the dish popping up again and again as a popular banchan in another Korean variety show, Barefoot Friends.
WHAT IS GANJANG GEJANG (간장게장)?
Ganjang refers to soy sauce, Ge is crab and Jang is, well, sauce. Yup, it is just that, a dish made by marinating raw crabs in soy sauce.
It is a traditional Korean dish that is very popular and much loved. Apparently really very local and its taste so rich and some even say too rich (pungent perhaps?) that even the Koreans are divided. Guess it’s a bit of a love and hate; those who love it really love it, and those who don’t, won’t even lick it.
My Korean friend told me some Koreans find it too raw, if there’s such a thing. And some think it’s too fishy.
This dish is basically salted and fermented. The sauce is made of soy sauce, chili pepper, ginger, dried kelp, onion and garlic. The sauce kindda layers on top of the raw crab, and it’s usually salty. Coz the crabs are raw, some people may find it too ‘slimy’ to stomach.
Ganjang gejang is quite complicated to prepare, since it first has to be salted with the special ganjang for about six hours in a earthenware crock. Basically the process involves salting it for an hour, then removing the sauce, reheating it, and salting it by pouring the sauce over it again, waiting, reheating and this is repeated several times.
It is important to get the marinade just right. If it’s not made right, it can be too salty. But if it’s not strong enough, the crabs will not ferment ‘properly’. If not fermented properly, the crabs will smell and even taste weird.
HOW TO EAT GANJANG GEJANG?
Just roll up your sleeves and dig in! I’m serious! No utensils or cutlery needed, best eaten with your bare hands!
To most peeps who love ganjang gejang, the highlight of the meal is mixing rice into the crab shell!
Just scoop rice into the crab shell and mix it all up, sauce and roe and all! You can just eat it like that, or you can scoop some of the mixed rice and wrap with seaweed (kim). Yumz either way!
The Koreans refer to ganjang gejang as ‘rice thief‘ (飯的小偷). Hehe, you’ll understand this when you find yourself with a gleaming empty bowl like this!
It’s one of the first few restaurants right at the beginning of the alley, very easy to find. Or, you can also refer to (A) in the map below.
Ya, the Masan one.
Here’s the big bright signboard. You can’t miss the (gaudy!) artificial flowers ‘plamted’ outside, hehe!
It’s open 24-hours. And it’s all floor seating, so ya, you gotta take off your shoes.
Here, the menu.
Zzang! Flipping open the menu!
If you can’t speak Korean, but can speak either Japanese or Mandarin, then you won’t have any trouble ordering your food.
Basically, the big portion is 75,000KRW and the small portion is 50,000KRW. The small one’s good for two people, and that was what we had ordered.
Even if you can’t speak any of the three languages, you shouldn’t have any problem either, since there’re pictures of the dishes in the menu. Or just point to whatever you want to have at someone else’s tables, hee!
Ordered, and ready to eat!
Side dishes (banchan) first!
And the heavenly fooooood!
Peeps, meet Ganjang Gejang!!
And I’d thought I’d be fine back home without it… you know, just looking forward to my reunion with Ganjang Gejang during my next trip to Seoul…
Until my friends decided to go to Seoul and eat Ganjang Gejang. One of them had texted us this earlier this evening.
That’s not all! These ‘evil people‘ had already uploaded pictures lor lor lor!
Here’s one from the sugar-free one!
And this was shared by Little Twin Stars!
The gals had gone to PRO SOY CRAB, supposedly one of the best in this business. It’s in a tall swanky building, also in the Ganjang Gejang Alley vicinity. Check out (G) in the map below.
You can also click HERE to read more about PRO soy crab.
After dinner, you can take a nice walk along the uber trendy Garosugil, which is full of chic Seoulites. Lots of hip cafes for you to people-watch.
I think celebrities hang out there too. I remember running into Jay Park there once.
Hehe, that was what we did evening after Ganjang Gejang. Walked back to the subway station to get to Garosugil. Saw this Choovely (Choo + Lovely) father-and-daughter lightbox at Sinsa subway station last year!
Take subway line 3 to Sinsa Station and go out exit 4. Walk straight for about 20 meters and take a right. Walk for about 80 meters and you should see the beginning of Ganjang Gejang Alley.
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!
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.
Or if you prefer other outlets, click HERE for the Hongdae outlet, and click HERE for the Sinchon 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!)
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!
Click HERE for more info on Yoogane and you can also click HERE to check out the menu.
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!
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.
Click HERE to check out the set lunch and dinner. And you can click HERE to read what KampungBoyCityGal has to say about Namsan.
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
For more on Gwangjang Market, click HERE and HERE.
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