“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” — Bill Bryson
As my days in Jakarta are coming to an end and full time work beckons, I decided to make an impromptu trip to Seoul with Ivana. Plane tickets and the hotel were booked within a day just two weeks prior to the trip and YEEHA we found ourselves on a plane to Seoul! It’s been a month since I got back and I am thinking of sharing my itinerary with you over a series of posts. ❤
Where to Stay in Seoul?
We stayed at G2 HOTEL Myeongdong (Address: 24, Supyo-ro, Myeongdong, Seoul, South Korea, 04555) and have absolutely no regrets. A newly built boutique hotel in a quiet and safe neighborhood, it is located 10 minutes away by foot from the Myeongdong area and Lines 2, 3, & 4 of the Subway.
The rooms are clean and modern, the beds and bedding super comfy, and each room comes equipped with the necessary amenities (all from Innisfree). Plus it is not expensive at all!
Where to Eat in Seoul?
The very fact that there are over 100 different kinds of kimchi should tell you something about the pride Koreans have in their food. Korean cuisine has evolved over time because of social and political change, but it remains a major aspect of the national identity. And I happen to LOVE Korean food a lot.
Here’s a list of some places you may want to check out; most of the restaurants are from research done prior to the trip, some came recommended by Korean friends, and some of them are gems we chanced upon.
- Sinseon Seolleongtang (Address: 2-2, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga ,Jung–gu, Seoul)
Sinseon Seolleongtang specializes in seolleongtang (duh). Is made by simmering ox bones, intestines and shank for several hours until the broth becomes rich and creamy white. When eaten together with rice and other side dishes, it is SO GOOD (especially on a cold morning).
- Migabon Porridge (Address: 2-2 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul)
Migabon specializes in Korean traditional porridge (juk), a local delicacy. I am not much of a porridge fan because I often associate eating porridge with being sick. That said, I’ll make an exception for Migabon because their porridge is heavenly.
In case you didn’t realize, Migabon Porridge is located just right above Sinseon Seolleongtang Myeongdong. 🙂
- Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Seoul (Address: 34, Apgujeong-ro 10-gil Gangnam-gu, Seoul)
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Seoul is the first overseas outlet outside of San Francisco. If you ever make it there, a must-have is the CRUFFIN. A Cruffin is a cross between a croissant and a muffin — it has the flaky texture of a croissant and the flavour of a muffin.
I ordered the Earl Grey Cruffin which was really good! It wasn’t overly sweet, the flakiness was just right, inner texture was fluffy and the earl grey filling was smooth and creamy. YUM.
- Hanwoori (Address: 77 Toegye-ro, Chungmuro 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul)
Hanwoori (located on the 5th floor of Shinsegae Department Store) was introduced to us by Min and Nam Young. I met the two of them in Seattle during my 6 months exchange and we have kept in contact since then.
Hanwoori has been specializing in shabu shabu since 1981. The restaurant uses only pure Korean beef fillet, which is delivered daily from a farm in Gwangju. Shabu shabu is a delightful form of comfort food — rich broth with fresh Korean beef, organic seasonal vegetables, hand-made soy bean curd, and springy noodles.
- O’sulloc Tea House (Address: 12, Myeongdong 7-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul)
O’sulloc Tea House is a green tea cafe in Seoul and can be considered a destination tea house to experience a touch of Korean tea culture. The cafe serves a variety of smoothies, hot drinks, cakes, and ice cream — most of which have green tea as the main ingredient.
- Mr. Bossam (Address: 68 Ewhayeodae-gil, Seoul)
Bossam is a pork dish in Korean cuisine whereby the pork belly is boiled in flavourful brine until it turns soft and scrumptious. Mr. Bossam (located in the Ewha area) serves one of the better Bossams in Seoul.
- Myeongdong Sundubu (Address: 199-50 2-ga Euljiro, Jung-gu, Seoul)
Hidden away from the busy streets of Myeongdong and run by a husband-wife team, Myeongdong Sundubu serves spicy soup with soft silky tofu. The stew comes in a clay pot together with rice cooked from a stone rice pot. According to the owner, he makes the tofu from scratch twice a day. No wonder the tofu is so soft and fluffy!
- Jeonju Jungang Hoegwan (Address: 19, Myeongdong 8na-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul)
Jeonju Jungang Hoegwan (est. 1956) is a specialty restaurant featuring Jeonju Gopdol Bibimbap in a hot stone pot. The restaurant is popular not only in Korea but also in Japan; it has participated in World Food Expo held in Japan and has been introduced on various Japanese TV programs including NHK and Fuji TV.
Jeonju Jungang Hoegwan’s bibimbap was by far one of the best I’ve had!! Another one, please!
- Gobong Samgyetang (Address: 3F, 199-13, Euljiro 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul)
This yellow broth samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) is made by boiling sanghwang mushroom (a medicinal variety which gives it its unique color and scent), along with a traditional herbal mix (including hemp and jujubes).
After the broth is made, no more than 25 chickens (of a special breed) are boiled at the same time. A smaller batch allows the collagen of the chicken to thicken the broth.
I cannot think of a better remedy for a cold wintery night. 🙂 🙂 🙂
- Wangbijib Korean Barbecue (Address: 26 Myeongdong 8ga-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul)
If you haven’t had Korean BBQ, you haven’t been to Seoul. Korean BBQ restaurants in Seoul are at a whole new level — think high-quality meat on charcoal grills with awesome ventilation systems (you won’t leave the restaurant smelling like grilled meat).
The servers at Wangbijib are trained to grill the meat for you so all you have to do is sit back, relax, and look forward to your meat. We ordered a few servings of pork belly, which came bright red in colour with a good layer of fats.
Although the pork cuts at Wangbijib were fresh, nothing could beat the meat we had at Mungyeong (some 2+ hours drive from Seoul). Our local guide for the Mungyeong day trip brought us to a family run Korean BBQ inn along the mountainside…and boyyy was the meat tender. IT LITERALLY MELTED IN MY MOUTH. To be honest, it was the best Korean BBQ I ever had. I was so overwhelmed by the meat that I forgot to take note of the restaurant’s name. 😦
- Sulbing Korean Dessert Cafe (Address: 39, Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul)
Composed of shaved ice and colourful ingredients, Bingsu is a very popular and elaborate dessert in Korea. At Sulbing, the ice is not only light and fluffy, but super fine too. It has a creamy texture and comes with loads of pretty toppings! Regardless of the flavour you order, it is to-die-for (especially in the heat of the afternoon!).
And this marks the end of my Seoul food list.
If you’d like the full 8 page itinerary including what to do in Seoul, do drop me a message and I’d happily send it to you! x