Kick started 2016 with a trip to Seoul, Korea from 9-16 Jan 2016. It was winter time with average temperatures of -2 degree celcius plus excruciatingly cold winds.
The trip happened because of travel cash vouchers from Chan Brothers. So after requesting for SQ return flights & Hotel IBIS Styles Ambassador Myeondong, we were off to kimchi land! Spent just over $3k for flight & lodging for 8D7N.
For the first time in forever, we had no itinerary, no plans, no rush, no pressure. Ended up being a very foodie trip with lots of unintentional sights along the way.
My favourite travel buddy and compass.
Street eats: Japchae, mochi strawberry, baked cheese, twister potato, rose gelato, banana milk, fried seafood, assorted sausages, gyeran bbang, tall icecream cones!
Everything looked so enticing that we ended up having street food for multiple meals. Yes, icecream never melts in winter, but hot food also turns icy cold really quick. No wonder koreans eat such big mouthfuls.
Found PABLO, the original cheese tart in the basement of Lotte shopping mall! *unintentional foodie stop #1* Think I over-hyped myself on this that it turned out pretty bland and underwhelming. Oh well, at least I can check this off my list.
First main meal in Seoul, brought the boy for a taste of quintessential korean cuisine, orange-coloured everything! Yoogane Galbi mmmmm so good… The lone skinny girl next to us ordered twice our portion o.O
Baked chicken wings at Oppa Dak! A healthy alternative to fried chicken 🙂 and oh-my-goodness it was sooo goood, plus no guilt! *unintentional foodie stop #2*
Somehow the waitress thought I looked super young and refused our order of beer as I had no ID on me. Compliment? Sadly it dashed our dreams of having chicken & beer, the Korean dream.
When I spotted Andong chicken along the streets of Myeong dong, he never heard the end of it. Until he gave in and agreed to try it. Oh how I miss you, sticky chewy noodles. Ahhhhhh drooling! *unintentional foodie stop #3*
Found an authentic Korean BBQ joint packed with locals on a weekday afternoon, along the outer, quieter stretches of Myeondong. Found my favourite pajeon (korean pancake with chives & squid) as well.
A super cool shopping district he read about and also the furthest we actually traveled from our hotel.
The whole place is made of blue containers with numerous trendy retail shops inside and a whole area of hipster cafes/restaurants on the roof. Love the idea.
Had a delicious calamari dinner along with honey lemon beer. Koreans really love their squid.
Bukchon Hanok village
Strangely I have no decent pictures here. Probably cause we went on a Sunday and it was packed with tourists. Its one of those “must-see” tourist attractions, but it felt less impressive than the first time i came here. Kinda lost its feel.
Also since its an actual residential area, be sure to keep your voices down. Some houses even put up signs saying “NO PHOTO”, guess he got sick of seeing his door in too many OOTDs.
Love this street. Littered with trendy modern artsy fartsy stuff with only Korean youngsters around. Currently still one of those hidden gems, yet to be flooded by tourists.
We spent a lovely aftnoon here, window shopping and cafe hopping. Trying to blend in.
Walked into a street full of food somewhere along the way and found the most amazing Hotteok!!! (korean pancake with brown sugar and cinnamon syrup filling) it’s famous. *unintentional foodie stop #4* Totally get why it’s a winter favourite here. The burst of warm comforting sweet filling after taking a bite through the crispy yet chewy exterior is just like giving your cold soul a tight squeezy hug. A delicious hug.
Also stumbled upon Churros Street, which offers this heaven in a cardboard – churros hotdog! This is bound to appear in Sg soon. Genius! Also got some spicy deokbokki and grilled chicken skewers to make it a lunch.
Woke up early to catch the change of guards at the Palace. Most colourful soldiers I’ve ever seen. Spent a long morning exploring the beautiful palace grounds.
Look they’re blowing seashells!!!
One of our favourite places. Just walked endlessly further and further into one of the back alleys. As the path got narrower and narrower, you could sense that the restaurants got more and more authentic. Places only locals would dare venture.
This was THE BEST KBBQ we ever had! With the Ahjumma lovingly feeding us piece after piece of juicy barbecued perfection. *unintentional foodie stop #5* but sadly I didn’t get the name of this restaurant. The meat was divine. Too good I forgot everything else.
The lettuce-wrapped blob of meat with bean paste and whatever you like is called a ssam. I like mine with a dab of salt, bean paste, seaweed sides and a tiny bit of rice. Mmmm hungryyy.
Another great thing about Insadong, is O’sulloc tea cafe! *unintentional foodie stop #6* Having been to jeju previously, I just had to drag the boy in here. Don’t need to travel out to jeju island for this anymore!
Namdaemun & Dongdaemun
Shopping destinations which are basically tourist traps. Don’t be afraid to bargain!
Open air ice skating rink! It actually started snowing when we got there. Would have been cool, imagine skating in the snow, but sadly too many small reckless kids in the rink did not look like fun.
This one we actually planned a trip down, meaning googled for directions the night before. Didn’t wanna risk the long queue at Tosokchon (supposedly no. 1 place for ginseng chicken, been before previously)
The restaurant is called Korean Samgyetang. They claim on a big orange signboard that they were the pioneers, the very 1st Korean Ginseng Chicken soup restaurant in Korea. I must say, this was really good! *unintentional foodie stop #7* The chicken was tender, glutinous rice was sticky and flavourful, broth was thick and starchy with a mild ginseng taste, even though huge pieces of ginseng were embedded. It’s easily 100 times better than any samgyetang you can find in Singapore Korean restaurants. Must-try!
Korea Samgyetang (고려삼계탕)
Seoul-si Jung-gu Seosomun-dong 55-3 (close to Deoksugung Palace)
서울특별시 중구 서소문로11길 1 (서소문동)
Directions: Subway Exit 10 of Subway line 1, 2 Cityhall. From Korean Air head office proceed 50m toward Sinchon. Across from Shinhan Bank, next to Woori Bank
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 9:00pm Daily
Injeolmi sulbing (powdered soy bean & rice cake on shaved ice). He liked it, but I’d prefer my strawberry version any day.
We were intrigued by this concept. A humongous bento of fried chicken, fries, noodles, salad, deokbokki and other curious things. It makes our pint beer glasses look like shots.
Ehwa Women’s University
Large campus that we decided not to venture into. Just looking at the map made us oldies tired. So a selfie will suffice.
Our last stop. Took the cable car up and spent our last few moments in Seoul attaching an overpriced padlock (more than 10 sgd!!!) to an overcrowded fence. One day we will return and find our little blue love lock and reminisce how overpriced it was.
Had our last amazing meal at the airport, naengmyeon. Basically cold noodles. In fact there are quite a number of dining options in Incheon, from traditional to modern fusion.
I love how korean cuisine plays with temperatures like spicy heat and cold that hit you on all the right notes. This is the first vacation that we returned from, still craving the same cuisine. For once I don’t miss my chicken rice that much.
Hotel we stayed at is highly recommended if location is your main priority. Being in the middle of 3 subway stations – Myeongdong, Chungmuro, Euljiro 3 ga. Clean, professional, relatively large rooms, good TV (watched afew movies every night), reliable wifi, decent buffet breakfast.