Sunday, March 30, 2014

Seoul Food Guide

'Hey I'm going to Seoul in xxx! Any recommendations not ah?'

So...many have been asking me what are the recommended cafes/food places in Seoul, hence I've compiled a list of my personal favorites that I've gathered over my short 4 months there! This list is targeted for tourists/short trip people, so to those on exchange, there are MANY other places that you can slowly explore like in those obscure back alleys - sometimes the food there tastes really good. I'm a really budget person, so apart from taste, value for money is a key factor that I take into consideration! Everyone knows that my mantra is #auntieheart - whatever is cheap and good works. Also, if you are balking at the lack of spicy stuff - thats because I don't take spicy food haha so sorry about that! Also, I'm not a fan of street food much cos they're 1. overpriced 2. not very impressive 3. most are spicy.

There were a few good korean eateries too, but those were not english/menu friendly, as the ahjumma would simple recommend what was the dishes for the day, and their locations are not easy to note down as well. Hence it would be easier to ask a local Korean if you really want to find these small eateries! Nevertheless, as a foreigner, these are some the places that I really liked and went back repeatedly :)

Myeong Dong

명동교자 Myeong Dong Gyoja

Directions easily found here
They are famous for Kalguksu, someting like our handmade noodles, and of course their mandu! This store is frequently patronised by tourists, and I really hate tourist traps but I have to admit that their noodles and mandu are REALLY good. SO much better than the kind of random mandu you buy off the street. The Kalguksu is simply noodles with abit of minced meat? but i loved their soup! Best of all, the noodles are REFILLABLE. So we just ordered 1 bowl for 2 to share, and requested for an additional serving of noodles after we finished - "Guksu chuka juseyo" (not sure if its grammatically correct but it worked). We were SO FULL. Priced around 8000 won per dish.

Yes another tourist cafe!! But I do love their cakes, their green tea swiss roll is really light and nice! Their ice cream is soso though. They also sell tea leaves etc, great for little souvenirs!

Beansbins Cafe
Another cafe joint! The one at Myeongdong is on the 2nd floor - the sign is quite prominent if you are walking along the main street. Anyway, I would say skip the waffles, go for the cakes and coffee! Mad love their red velvet cake! They also have specialty coffee beans, and even their usual blend is oh-so-aromatic! Their mint mocha is refreshing and strong tasting. Missing this cafe right now :(

Isaac Toast
Of course, for a quick breakfast, you can never miss out Isaac Toast! Note that the Korean Toasts are sweet - they add some sweet sauce. But if you're not a fan of that, simply order those without the sauce! They pan fry the bread with butter - oh so good fragrant unhealthiness!!! Prices average 2,000 won per toast


Butterfinger Pancakes
88-9 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu (강남구 청담동 88-9번지)

Firstly, I would recommend that you visit this place on a weekday. The first time I went, it was on a weekend when we had to wait for a table and the pancakes didn't taste fantastic - in fact, we struggled to finish it. However, seeing how delish the mixed platter looked on other tables, I went back a second time on a sunny weekday morning and HOLY SHIT the pancakes were SO GOOD. I have no idea why there was a taste disparity. Do order their breakfast platter as their other offerings (ham, rosti, sausage etc) were delish as well! Can't say the same for their pancakes. The original pancakes are still the bomb! Also, they have 3 types of butter to choose from - do ask for the butter+sugar kind of butter (I forgot what its exact name on the menu was). HEAVEN.

Chloris Tea and Coffee
One of my favourite cafe joints!!! They have a branch in Hongdae as well, and their cafes are always a few stories high!! Super love their decor and ambience. I always go for their Assam Black milk tea 
(5,500 won), THEIR WHIPPED CREAM IS ALSO TEA FLAVOURED! I dont even....... Anyway, they are also famous for their milk tea bingsu thing! 

Mapo Galmaegi BBQ
My favourite BBQ joint! MUST MUST order the pork skirt meat (Galmaegi) - its the first 2 on the menu, spicy and non spicy version. They serve generous servings of salad/beansprouts/kimchi all, and I guess the favourite part for most of us is the EGG! you see the egg around the bbq pan, they will mix it with the kimchi then pour it there and it will be cooked. It just tastes SO GOOD. If you are unsure of which BBQ restaurant to go, this is a safe bet!

Street food
Okay I don't have a photo for this but there's two street food that I ALWAYS eat when I'm in Gangnam - Hotteok and Gyeran bbang! Hotteok is a sort of fried pancake with cinnamon/sugar inside - Look out for a WHITE tent from exit 11 (the exit that heads out to uniqlo side). on the opposite side of the road where there are more bars/after Krispy Kreme, theres this guy selling Gyeran bbang with ham (literally egg bread with ham) for 1000 won, and it tastes SO good! the same thing without the ham sells for 2000 won in Myeongdong, which is a RIPOFF.


Sinsa is one of my favourite go to place - so many cafes and shopping!! Unfortunately I didn't have the time to strike off all the cafes on my Sinsa list - just way too many. Oh but give the Godiva cafe a miss, its crap, the ice cream is crap. 

Sigol Babsang
549-9 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu

Just off the famous Garosugil, you can find my favourite Hanshik joint! You have to walk all the way to Forever21 building, then turn right into the small street. It will be on your left after a very crowded Chicken and Beer joint.

Hanshik refers to the traditional Korean meal with a TABLEFUL of banchan (side dishes). We went on our first day in Korea and thought they scammed us because their menu was misleading and we had limited Korean... hahaha. Their side dishes are free flow so one can easily get full on those! The above photo was my 2nd time there with patricia, we ordered the doenjang jigae (soybean paste soup) as you have to order the soup to get the side dishes, then added a beef bulgogi (HEAVEN - the serving is REALLY big) and steamed egg. OH and their makgeolli (the bowl at the top right corner) was good as well!! Yes, we ate alot haha. I think 4 people could share the above... but oh well. This came up to about 15,000 won for each of us, which was really reasonable.

The Flying Pan White
540-22 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Sinsa also houses The Flying Pan, a western brunch place. They have various branches around Seoul, including The Flying Pan Blue, Red, which has different menu offerings! Went to this spot with the other SNU-SMU people, and their offerings are quite similar to Singapore - Eggs royale, etc. Would highly recommend their pancakes with fig and ricotta cheese (THAT MOUNTAIN OF CHEESE)- super filling and I absolutely adore the combination! Rarely see these ingredients in Singapore! Brunch courses are around 16,000-20,000 won.

Moon Jar Makgeolli bar
Okay this is HIGHLY recommended by the makgeolli connoisseur Mr. Ooi! It was quite epic we just kept going to different makgeolli places in the last week. I never got the chance to go there because when they went me and patty were at sigol babsang and it was WINTER and Moon Jar is actually quite far off Sinsa station, so we couldn't walk over hahaha. It is closer to Apgujeong, but oh well, just take a cab there!! Winter is just SO BAD. Anyway, food is on the pricey side here but apparently they have a wide range of makgeolli! A must go to try good and quality makgeolli!

 Ewha Women's University/ Sinchon


Well I rarely go to Ewha for a meal, and I totally regret why did I not try this earlier??? This is the renowned Flying Fish Roe Bibimbap - and it costs only 3,500 won!!! I super love cheap and good stuff haha #auntieheart! You can choose your sauce and spiciness level etc. A fuss free food joint for students who are simply looking for a cheap meal.

Waffle Bant
Okay you can find this chain in many places, but they also have a cafe located at the junction of Sinchon/Ewha round about! I swear they make the BEST belgian waffles among all the wannabe cafe joints in Seoul. A definite must go!!

8 Colour Meat
Sinchon station exit 6
Sorry for this really bad photo haha I think I was too busy eating!! anyway, 8 colour meat refers to a bbq with 8 FLAVOURS OF PORK BELLY! They have really interesting flavours like herbs, ginseng, curry, etc etc! and free flow veggies and mushroom! Prices are really reasonable at about 30,000 per set, which can feed 2. They also have a spicy seafood soup/stew thing that comes with every table! The servers will cook the pork belly for you, so no worries about not knowing when it is cooked or not! A definite MUST try if you head to Seoul!

Gosami Grilled Fish
Directions can be found here
This place is affectionately known to us as the 'Sinchon fish place'. Haha! Many students frequent this place as they have reasonable prices, and I personally feel that their fish is better than the ones at the Dongdaemun grilled fish street! Its a little troublesome to find and their menu is in Korean, but they only have just 3 choices so its really easy to order!

호밀밭 (Homilpat)

4-77 Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu
Whats Seoul without Patbingsu (Shaved Ice)??? Homilpat is my favourite patbingsu place, definitely not an exaggeration when we say that their shaved ice is finer than SNOW. yes SNOW. totally feels like you're eating snow!! So amazing. The fruit one is delish, but my favourite is still the original ! Their queues are snaking long after dinner, so choose the right time to go when there's no queue!

Seoul National University Area/Nakseongdae

Traditional Makgeolli House - I think its called Po Seok
서울 관악구 인헌동 1634-8
Signboard looks like that
A traditional makgeolli house in Nakseongdae, with a super friendly boss who tries to engage us although I could hardly understand his Korean hahahaha. Makgeolli is cheap here - 5,000 won for the pot, but of course their food is expensive! We always order their seafood pancake (15,000 won) because it is honestly MUCH BETTER than the ones elsewhere, albeit having too much vegetables in it. We also adored their beansprouts - somehow the marination/sauce just tastes amazing!!


Gyeongbokgung Station
This place needs no introduction! Just do a google search and you can get tons of reviews on their ginseng chicken. I was quite skeptical at the start as well, as I read some reviews that it sucks, tasteless etc, but I realised that there's a way to eat ginseng chicken! 2 simple tips: 1. DONT DRINK THE WINE, pour it into the soup! 2. Once you get your dish, quickly open the chicken, find the ginseng, crush it! Many people think that it's tasteless because THE GINSENG IS IN THE CHICKEN. and if you're gonna drink the soup before you open and start eating the chicken obviously its gna be plain chicken soup........ I did the above and my meal was heavenly. Comes with a price of 15,000 won per bowl though, but worth it!

Of course, there are other amazing places to eat in Seoul - I would recommend the small alleys in Insadong - authentic Hanshik and more makgeolli!!! But if you have limited time and are going to the above areas, do check these places out :) Will be updating this place if I recall other places!