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
Guess this is a looooooong overdue post. I don’t know why I never got around to doing up a list like this. (Yes, SL, this is coz of you ^^)
I mean, I’ve been going to Seoul since 2003 and I’d actually gone there some 11 times. I’d say that’s quite plenty. Besides, each time I go, it’s usually anything between two weeks to a month; quite long ^^
Can’t say I’m very familiar with Seoul since I ain’t the super touristy type and I’m practically road-blind. My trips to Seoul are usually very very laidback; almost like those people working overseas going back home for hols. Yup, I don’t go to lotsa places, and I don’t do a lot of things. I just stay up really late, wake up really late too, and just hang out or chill.
Ahhhh…. Absolutely my favourite waste of time, woohoo!
Although I do try new places to eat practically every trip, gotta say I do have my own fave places to go to, or at least there’re some places that I’d recommend friends go try. Since I always get chingus asking me where to eat in Seoul, I reckon I might as well just do up a blog post. The next time someone asks me again, I’ll just give them links!
Guess everyone who goes to Seoul oughta have at least one Korean BBQ meal, ya?
I recommend Saemaul Sikdang. ‘Sae’ means ‘new’, ‘maul’ means village, and Sikdang (食堂) is restaurant.
It’s a very local chain, and superb value for money. Lotsa locals go there, but increasingly, more and more overseas peeps are making their way there too. Not a bad thing, coz the staff would be more accustomed to serving foreigners and hence, it’ll be less intimidating for us. I believe they’ve English menu, so ask!
This is actually a 24-hour chain of BBQ restaurants! Very convenient huh? I used to go to the outlet at Hongdae (as recently as this May/June), but I just heard that the building’s been knocked down. Fret not, you can check out ITS OTHER OUTLETS.
You see the lightbox next to the entrance? The guy in the photo is actually the chef-owner. He’s apparently really famous and owns a whole host of chains and restaurants in Korea and even overseas!
Anyway, food quality’s good for the prices it’s charging.
If you wanna know what to order, hehe, more like if you wanna know what I usually eat there, you can read MY MEATY POST. Hehe, I highly recommend eating the Yeoltan Bulgogi with the cold noodles, super shiok! And I love the kimchi pork rice thingy, the salted grilled pork, and also the pig skin!!
Here, a quick guide to what to order at Saemaul Sikdang!
Or, you can also check out what the Korean Tourism Organization recommends HERE. And oh, click HERE for some nice pictures of the place and the food.
One extra tip for you when looking for barbecued meat restaurants in Seoul… there’s a actually a BBQ restaurant alley in Mapo! Yea, the Koreans seem to have an alley for all the food they like, keke! So, check it out!
Or, you can also check out an old but still mighty relevant and useful link on SEOULISTIC.
Back to Saemul Sikdang, I think there’re two outlets in Gangnam; here are the addresses.
SAEMAUL SIKDANG (새마을 식당)
831-32 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam gu, Seoul
서울특별시 강남구 역삼동 831-32번지 동원빌딩 101호
Subway: Gangnam Station, Exit 2
Go towards Yangjae direction for 150m; straight alley right next to the National Bank.
SAEMAUL SIKDANG (새마을 식당)
164-12 Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam gu, Seoul
서울특별시 강남구 논현동 164-12번지 1층
Subway: Nonhyeon Station, Exit 3
Go straight 400m towards Sinnonhyeon Station, make a left onto Gangnam-daero 112-gil Alley. Go 50m and you will see the restaurant on the left.
2. Running Man Haha’s 401 BBQ Restaurant, Hongdae
Any Running Man fans?
Me, me, me!
Some of you might have heard that Gary and Haha both own restaurants selling grilled intestines…. But, Haha has actually renovated his restaurant, changed the name and is now selling black pork BBQ!
The new restaurant is called 401 and yup, still in Hongdae. You can read more about it HERE.
There’s also a nice map that Twinrabbit has kindly provided.
Haha’s 401 BBQ Restaurant
Hours: 5:00pm to 5:00am
395-17 Seogyo-dong, Mapo gu, Seoul
서울특별시 마포구 서교동 395-17
Subway: Hongdae Station, Exit 9 (or Hapjeong Station, Exit 3)
From Hongdae Exit 9, walk past the streets lined with roadside stalls and restaurants and go towards where the main shopping streets are (You will have to cross a busy road; just follow the crowds, hee!)
Past the shopping streets, turn left and walk towards Sang Sang Ma Dang (famous landmark), 401 is just opposite SSMD. It’s about a nice and lots-to-see 15 minutes’ walk.
Since we’re already in Hongdae, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Hehe, actually it ain’t that big a secret amongst Seoulites, but relatively few overseas travellers know about this place. So, if your companies (especially hubbies, boyfriends and even the little ones!) can’t really stomach eating Korean food everyday, Seoga & Cook is a fab place to go.
They actually have quite a few outlets, but I’ll just tell you where the Hongdae one is.
Seoga & Cook is essentially western food (more Italian actually) at very generous portions! Food quality’s not bad too!
A few things to note when dining at Seoga & Cook~
* Portions are huge! And I mean really quite huge. Each dish is enough for 2-3 peeps, so be care not to over-order.
* All mains are all priced at 19,800 KRW.
* Specialty dishes here include the pork steak salad and pilaf. if you google abit, you will read lotsa ‘ooooohs and aaaaaaahs‘ about how nice and how fantastically-value-for-money this place is. The pork steak salad comes with three slabs of pork! feels more like we’d ordered pork steak with salad, than a salad dish #^.^#
* The lemony beer is a grrrrrrreat item to order on a hot summer’s day or night for that matter!
You can click HERE, HERE and HERE to read what others have to say about Seoga and Cook.
Seoga & Cook, Hongdae
Hours: 11:30 AM ~ 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM ~ 10:30 PM
395-17 Seogyo-dong, Mapo gu, Seoul
(It’s just a couple of shops away from Haha’s 401 restaurant!)
서울특별시 마포구 서교동 395-17
Subway: Hongdae Station, Exit 9 (or Hapjeong Station, Exit 3)
From Hongdae Exit 9, walk past the streets lined with roadside stalls and restaurants and go towards where the main shopping streets are (You will have to cross a busy road; just follow the crowds, hee!)
Past the shopping streets, turn left and walk towards Sang Sang Ma Dang (famous landmark), Seoga & Cook is just sorta of diagonally opposite SSMD. It’s about a nice and lots-to-see 15 minutes’ walk.
Still on Western food, there’s a very nice restaurant in Agpujeong, the swanky area.
But it’s abit of a walk from the nearest subway station, maybe about 15 minutes. They also have outlets at Myeongdong and Hongdae, but the Agpujeong one is the loveliest. It’s a two-storey building with lotsa lush greens within the restaurant compounds. When you’re there, it feels like you’re whisked away to some mighty secluded and private space within the city.
Although prices ain’t exorbitant, they ain’t exactly very cheap. Go if you feel like going somewhere with ambience. Read more HERE.
Zen Hideaway (Agpujeong)
Hours: Weekdays: 11:30am – 02:00am, Weekends: 11:30am – 00:00mn
Tel: +82-2-541-1461, 6261
24, Eonju-ro 168-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 강남구 언주로 168길 24 (신사동)
Subway: Apgujeong Station (Subway Line 3), Exit 2
Upon exiting the station, make a u-turn and turn right at the corner. Go straight for 500m and cross the street at the crosswalk near Woori Bank. Turn right and go continue straight for 200m. Turn left onto the alley next to the Luxe building. Zen Hideaway is 200m ahead on the right.
5. Tosokchon Samgeytang
One of the most famous Korean dishes has gotta be the samgeytang, or ginseng chicken. Strangely, the Koreans particularly like to eat samgyetang during the hot summer months, believing that it will help them with their stamina and strength when our bodies feel tired easily due to the hot weather.
I, on the other hand, kindda prefer to have steaming hot soupy stuff during winter, keke!
Anyway, if you’re looking for samgyetang, look no further than Tosokchon (土俗村人參雞湯). It’s one of the best in Seoul, and the location is really convenient. If you’re planning to go to the Gyeongbokgung (Palace), then you might wanna plan these two on the same day.
Tosokchon’s a really short walk away from the subway station. Housed in a hanok, traditional Korean house, you can also get to see what a hanok looks like if you go have a meal.
The late President Roh Moo Hyun was a big fan of the samgyetang here. In fact, he even tried to get them to pass the recipe to his chef so that he could have samgyetang at home!
Nope, Tosokchon has a strong belief that only they can create the dish the way they want to, that’s why they didn’t agree to pass on the recipe. And this is also why they have not opened a second outlet or started a franchise business despite being so popular. They want to ensure that quality’s maintained.
Other than samgyetang, many people also like the black chicken version. You may see some people order the roast chicken, but I really wouldn’t recommend. If you want roast or fried chicken, there are better places to have them. But oh, you can try their seafood pancake (haemul pajeon) though, not bad.
The queue can get pretty long during meal times, so you might wanna go slightly earlier before the usual meal times. But the place’s big and service’s fast, so don’t get deterred even if you see a queue.
And oh, it’s one of those places where you gotta remove your shoes and sit on the floor and eat. So… hehe, leave your holey socks at home!
The popular-in-this-region traveling couple blog Kampungboycitygal has also blogged about Tosokchon HERE, or you can also click HERE for more details about the samgeytang at Tosokchon.
Hours: 10:00am to 22:00pm
5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울 종로구 자하문로5길 5 (체부동)
Subway: Gyeongbokgung Station,Exit 2.
Go straight about 170m and turn left onto Jahamun-ro 5-gil Road. Tosokchon (토속촌) is located 10m ahead on the left.
6. Jin Ok Hwa Dakhanmari (陳玉華一只雞)
Next up is still…. chicken! Dak means chicken in korean and Dakhanmari translates literally into one (whole) chicken; how imaginative, keke!
This is the very first Dakhanmari restaurant and it opened its doors back in 1978. Thirty over years later, it continues to be a very much loved restaurant by the locals, and increasingly, by the foreigners too. It’s located at the Dongdaemun area, so yea, you can pack the shopping and this on the same day.
The restaurant uses only fresh young chickens which are about 35 days old. What people like about this dish is the minimal seasoning used. The whole idea is to let diners enjoy the tenderness of the meat and not be distracted by the seasoning. So it’s a case of you either love it A LOT, or you just find it bland. But hey, you can always add chilli (it’s a very nice and very special marinade sauce!)
I know of people who love it so much that they went back to eat this dish THREE(!) times in the 10-odd days they were in Seoul.
And personally, I do like how tender the chicken is, and I love love love the rice-cakes and the kalguksu noodles (刀削麵)!
Click HERE and HERE for more details of Dakhanmari. And if you’re not sure how to get there, click HERE.
Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari (진옥화할매원조닭한마리)
Hours: 10:00am to 10:30pm
18, Jong-ro 40ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 종로40가길 18 (종로5가)
Subway: Dongdaemun Station, Exit 9.
Go straight 160m and turn left at the Industrial Bank of Korea (기업은행). Go straight 50m and turn onto the first side street to the right. Continue 100m straight until you see the restaurant.
Subway: Jongno 5-ga Station, Exit 6.
Turn left onto the first side street and walk 300m.
7. Yeolbong Andong Jjimdak
Yay!! Andong chicken is easily one of my fave dishes!
First things first, Yeolbong is the name of a particular chain of Andong Jjimdak restaurants in Korea; and it’s opened by a Kpop celeb, SE7EN. But don’t let that stop you… the food’s goooood despite being opened by a celeb, haha!
Andong is actually the name of a place, so this is aa special dish that originated from Andong. Jjim refers to the cooking method and we’ve already said ‘dak’ means chicken in Korean.
It’s a casserole dish of braised chicken with potatoes and also glass noodles. The sauce is sweet and spicy, ahhhhh…. a very magical mix.
Now I’m someone who can’t really take very spicy food, although I do love it. If you eat Andong Jjimdak at Yeolbong, you get to choose the spicy level. If you’re like me, please just go for the lowest level, k? The second and third levels of spiciness can be quite lethal.
Yeolbong has several outlets, including one at Hongdae and one at Sinsa, but I personally prefer the one at Gangnam. I really think the food’s the best at the Gangnam branch.
Click HERE to learn more about the dish. And you can also click HERE for detailed directions on how to get to the Yeolbong Gangnam branch.
This is yet another fave restaurant of mine. They’ve been around for a long time, and the two outlets are both in Myeongdong.
Myeongdong Gyoja’s also listed as one the top restaurants in Seoul. Usually quite busy, but coz place’s big and table turnaround is fast, so the wait is not too long.
I like to go there at 11ish for brunch, before the restaurant gets too crowded.
Menu is really simple (which I like!) with only three items, namely, the kalguksu (knife sliced noodles 刀削麵), the chilli cold noodles and the mandu (which is gyoja or what we call dumplings). Portion’s biggish, so three people can share two mains.
What’s nice? Everything’s nice, me thinks, hehe! And I really really really love the kimchi here!
Incidentally, THIS BLOGGGER seems to have very similar taste buds as me coz we seem to always end up liking the same food and restaurants. Hee, she likes the same GRILLED CHICKEN SKEWER AT EDAE! So spicy but so shiiiiiok!
She’s basically said everything I would have said about eating at Myeongdong Gyoja, so you can go read her blog post HERE. She also gave very clear directions on how to get there.
Hours: 10:30am to 9.30pm
Main store (Myeongdong)
25-2 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu
서울특별시 중구 명동2가 25-2
33-4, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu
서울특별시 중구 명동2가 33-4
You might be familiar with this porridge chain if you’re a K-drama fan and have watched Boys Over Flowers.
But more important than that, this Bonjuk (本粥) porridge concept is actually part of the whole SLOW FOOD philosophy… which I endorse! I think in this Internet age, too much of ‘ppali ppali‘ is not necessarily good for us! Sometimes we really need to slow down and take in the simple beauty of life.
Anyway, this porridge chain is quite big in Korea or at least I see quite alot of it in Seoul, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to chance upon it. But since most of you will definitely spend time in Myeongdong, I’ll just ‘show’ you where the Myeongdong branch is.
On a cold winter day or for days when you just don’t have appetite, Bonjuk is a great choice. Healthy and nutritious too! Many people recommend the pumpkin porridge, but I personally like the oyster and also the seafood. Then again, I love love love seafood, keke!
Portion’s quite big though, so you might wanna share. If there’re two of you, you can order one porridge, and of course, you can order two if there’re three of you. But hor, strangely, some outlets don’t let you order two if there’re four of you… Chey, then just sit separately lor!
Or…. just takeaway!
65-2 Chungmuro2-ga, Jung-gu,Seoul,South Korea
서올시 중구 충무로2가 65-2번지 2충
Subway: Myeongdong Station, Exit 6
Come out from Exit 6, turn left and then turn right at the first turn. Bonjuk is on level 2, opposite Starbucks.
There’s actually a narrow alley in the midst of the Myeongdong shopping area where you can find some seafood restaurants. There’s one particular one that I’d eaten at a few times, and hehe, I didn’t know it’s famous!
Myeongdong Eomeonijip (translates into Mother’s House) is a haemultang (seafood stew) restaurant with 40 years’ history. If you like seafood stew, this is the place to check out! Not cheap though, can’t remember how much, but I think it’s about S$50 or so.
Let me say again that as much as I like spicy food, I can’t really take spicy food. How sad, right? Yea, I know!! But I still can’t resist wolfing down this!
Eomeonijip Seafood Stew
11-6, Myeongdong 8-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
Seafood Soup Alley @ Myeongdong
Walk down the alley between Esquire Shoe Store and Spris from the main street, and you can see the seafood soup restaurants clustered in this narrow lane.
11. Two-Two Chicken, Myeongdong
Did you know that some Koreans like to three-stop dinner rounds? They will usually start at some BBQ restaurant, move on to either a KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) or MAKGEOLLI BAR, and then to karaoke, or maybe a POJANGMACHA.
So, checking out the Two-Two Chicken at Myeongdong after some very intense shopping would be fab! You can check out photos of this outlet HERE.
Truth be told, KFC has never meant the same to me ever since I was introduced to CHIMAEK!
Subway: Myeongdong Station, Exit 3 (or just go up the escalator), then walk into the street at the left of Pacific Hotel. Follow the smell, haha!
12. Soy Crab (Ganjang Gejang Alley), Sinsa
Yay!! Finally it’s time to talk about one of my fave-fave food in Korea, the soy crab!! Ganjang Gejang is actually marinated raw crabs with lotsa lotsa lotsa roe!
My Korean friend told me there’re some Koreans who can’t take soy crab coz it’s too raw for them, but those who love them really really love them.
Hehe, for me, it was love at first bite! I don’t actually remember it, but Emz told me the first words to come out of my mouth after sinking my teeth into the crab for the first time were, OH MY EFFING GOD! Fwahwahwah!
You can read more about what soy crab is all about and how to eat it HERE.
I’ve heard and read that Pro Soy Crab is supposedly the best, or at least amongst the best. Check out the history HERE, and click HERE for address and directions. I understand that Pro Soy Crab is open 24/7.
There’s actually a Ganjang Gejang alley in Sinsa-dong! Hehe, so unthinkable that a place so chic and all has an alley selling this very local and strong-flavoured dish! But I guess that’s the beauty of Seoul.
This was the one I’d gone to, it’s called Masan and it’s also a 24-hour outfit. Masan also has a long history. It’s pretty much the first soy crab restaurant at the beginning of the alley. It’s amongst one of the biggest there, and also one of the most patronized.
They’ve Mandarin speaking staff in case you need help with the ordering.
Directions: 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.
13. Kimbap Cheonguk
Some of you might thank me for this! Kimbap Cheonguk is a chain of very local 24-hour eateries that you can find at practically every suburb in Seoul. Yup, I’d blogged about it very briefly HERE.
Do yourself a favour and try and remember how the logo looks like. There’s one in Myeongdong, one in Anguk, one in Hyehwa… etc etc etc.
For days when you don’t know what to eat, for days when your group of travel companions can’t agree on where to eat, for days when you just feel like some hearty Korean food, Kimbap Cheonguk is the answer. Their menu’s so extensive and prices quite reasonable since each main is below S$10.
Or even for days when you’re broke, just head up to Kimbap Cheonguk and grab some kimbap.
What is kimbap?
Aigoo, if you’re asking this, you really don’t know much about Korean food hor? This is like super elementary lor! Kimbap refers to those seaweed rice rolls (or what some people call Korean sushi).
Kimbap Cheonguk actually means seaweed rice(roll) heaven. Kim is seaweed and bap is rice. Cheon is sky, and guk is country or nation, so cheonguk is actually 天國 in Chinese.
I like the tuna kimbap (cham-chi kim-bap) here, and I also like a whole host of other dishes here too! Like the spicy beancurd stew (soondubu chigae), the cheese ramyeon, the spicy beef soup (yukgaejang), the omelette rice, etc etc etc!
What?? You mean you have never tried cheese ramyeon? Hehe, it’s not as weird as it sounds, k? It actually tastes nice! On a cool or even cold day, the piping hot cheese ramyeon is a great choice!
They have English menu, so don’t worry about worrying. And oh, the water and banchan (side dishes) are on self-service mode here.
I’ll just tell you how to get to the Myeongdong outlet since it’s quite easy to get to.
Subway: Myeongdong Station, Exit 2 or 3 (or just go up the escalator), then walk into the street at the right of Pacific Hotel. Kimbap Cheonguk is very near Macdonalds.
Wah, this post is already so looooooong and I’m still not done yet! Better split this into two parts coz it’s getting too laggy for me to continue blogging. Check back soon, you hear?