South Korea, Seoul needs no introduction. Great food, rich heritage and culture, beautiful scenery, awesome shopping, pretty girls and handsome men, mega popular music and film industry. I can’t think of what else is lacking. This is my second visit to Seoul, this time round with slightly more knowledge on their food. During my first trip, i only know Bibimbap (비빔밥) and Bulgogi (불고기).
My trip was from 12 November to 19 November 2013 during the mid of Autumn and the temperature ranges from -4 to 12 degree Celsius. It was a free and easy trip so there was quite some map planning and navigation to be done, which i will share everything in this page.
Navigation and Transportation in Seoul
For friends who are going for Free & Easy, i recommend another map site that is very popular among the Koreans which gives a much more accurate location. The only problem is, this site can only perform a search by Korean character, which i will try to provide in my posts as much as possible. I can read a little of their Hangul (Korean character) so it actually makes my research much much easier.
Instead of using Google map, i use Naver Map. Even the details of small streets are reflected in Naver Map unlike Google Map and that is really helpful in term of navigation. Throughout the whole trip, i fail to locate only ONE cafe and i use Google Map for that. Grrrr……
My philosophy for navigation is not to always go for the shortest route, but the easiest route. Most of my maps will take reference from a MRT exit and if you will find the place if you follow my directions closely.
Travelling from places to places is easy in Seoul. The subway system can almost bring you to any part of Seoul with little difficulty.
What to eat and do in different part of Seoul?
I had friends who visited Seoul and when i asked them what food do they recommend in Seoul, and some of their answers are “I don’t know. I just pop into any Korean restaurant along the way. You don’t go for any particular restaurant. Just know the kind of dishes to eat”. That’s what i did for the first visit, but nope, i am not going to do that this time. Apart from some street food and the restaurants at Nami Island, the rest are all planned for.
So for all those fellow foodies out there who will specially travel for food, hop onto my band wagon!
I must explain that this is my second time in Seoul. For some food, i am only having it for the first time so i am not able to make comparison with other places. My reviews for the food places are purely based on my personal preference and taste.
I will add on to this list as i do up my posts, because there are just too many places to write about so please be patient and visit this page as and when, or do subscribe so you will receive an email whenever i have a new post.
I’d grouped my food places according to the nearest MRT station.
(1) Hongik (Hongdae) University Station – 홍대
(1-1) Yeolbong Jimdak (열봉찜닭)
A celebrity restaurant opened by Se7en that specialised in Andong Chicken. The tender chicken and thick, spicy and flavorful sauce attracted visitors to Yeolbong Jimdak and not just simply “it’s opened by a celebrity”. There are a few branches in Seoul and one of them is situated near Hongik MRT station.
A restaurant opened by Running Man’s member Gary. Haha eventually bought the franchise rights and opened a branch at Hongdae. Paljamakchang specialize in BBQ pig intestines and other BBQ items. Love the freshness of the pig intestine and the unique dipping sauce for their BBQ items. A must-go for any running fan out there.
(1-3) The Bridge Cafe (카페더브릿지)
The Bridge Cafe is a secret haven at Hongdae district which is little known on Singapore’s forum or blog. The unique interior design is the selling point of the cafe whereby most areas of the cafe are partitioned into private rooms or areas for visitors to indulge in a truly private chillax experience for you and your friends.
(1-4) Coffee Libre (커피 리브레)
Coffee Libra is a side venture from their main line of coffee bean roasting (and they had won numerous awards). The team behind the roaster travels around the world in search of the best coffee beans and are involved in multiple coffee-related events in Seoul. Champion Barista Sang Ho Park has been using their beans in the UK Barista Championship. Want quality coffee? You may want to consider visiting Coffee Libre.
(2) Ehwa (E-dae) Women University Station – 이대
The must-eat street food at Edae! There is no other street food stall that’s as popular as Modak Modak at Edae shopping district. Long queue is formed along the street that leads to this street food stall. This delectable chicken skewer is topped with their home-made chilli sauce, mayonnaise and cheese powder. In my opinion, this is a must-try if you visit Edae.
(3) Myeongdong Station – 명동
This restaurant was featured in the South Korea Green Guide Michelin 2012-2013 that specialise in Gyoja (steamed dumpling), and Kalguksu (knife sliced noodle 칼국수). This is one of my favourite restaurants and i just can’t get enough of their Korean-style steamed dumplings. This mandu is huge and meaty, and it’s filled with sweet and juicy sesame-oil-infused minced meat.
(3-2) Yoogane Chicken Galbi (유가네 닭갈비)
Yoogane, originated from Busan (since 1981), although it’s not the first Chicken Galbi stall, but it’s popularity had grown to one the most popular Dak Galbi restaurant in Seoul. Grilled marinated chicken is freshly prepared on the pan right in front of your eyes. The unique selling point of Yoogane is for their add-on side dishes, that are to be added into Galbi Chicken to be pan-fried together.
A restaurant opened by celebrity host Kang Ho-Dong that offers affordable and quality Korean BBQ. Many love them for the pan-grilled egg that comes with the BBQ set. One of the unique things about Baekjeong is they still use Charcoal Grill instead of a gas one.
Myeongdong, the shopping heaven for Skin Care, Fashion Wear and a paradise for authentic Korean street food. Where to go for Seoul Street Food? Myeongdong street has it all, from Grilled Cuttle Fish, Steamed Egg Muffin, Spicy Rice Cake, Fish Cake Soup and Fries Coated Hot Dog, you say it, they got it.
(4) Dongdae Mun Station – 동대문
(4-1) Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari (진옥화할매원조닭한마리)
The outlook of this dish looks a little weird and too plain to associate it with the word delicious but it proves me otherwise. Dakhanmari is a very local Korean cuisine that is not found in Singapore. Some say that it is a waste not to visit a Dakhanmari restaurant when you’re in Seoul. Definitely a unique dining experience.
(5) Gangnam Station – 강남
(5-1) Kyochon Fried Chicken (교촌치킨)
The most popular Korean-Style fried chicken in Seoul. Kyochon’s fried chicken comes in five flavors – Soy, Spicy, Honey, Salsal and the Fried Series. Cripsy, juicy and freshly fried wings are the reasons for it’s popularity. The honey series is a must-try.
(6) Euljiro 3(sam)-ga Station – 을지로3가
(6-1) Andongjang (안동장)
Andongjang, the oldest Korean Chinese restaurnt in Seoul that serves great Korean Chinese food that includes Jajangmyeon and Tangsuyuk. This place is very accessible with only a 2 minutes walk from the exit of Euljiro-3-Ga. Their speciality includes the Guljjamppong (spicy noodle soup with oysters).
(7) Cheonggu Station – 청구
(7-1) Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki (마복림할머니떡볶이)
Imagine a street that is lined up with rows of Laksa stalls due to the popularity of Katong Laksa in Singapore. And now, imagine a Tteokbokki street in Seoul that was formed due to Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki. I personally think that this is a must-try for Tteokbokki lover. This restaurant made me understand why people are saying there is a vast difference in taste between Tteokbokki found in Singapore and Seoul.
(8) Gyeongbokgung Station – 경복궁
(8-1) Tosokchon (土俗村 토속촌)
Ginseng Chicken Soup, or otherwise known as Samgyetang (삼계탕), is one of the most well known Korean dishes. When people ask about the best Samgyetang in Seoul, the name Tosokchon will always pop up. Tosokchon is a restaurant that was converted from a traditional Hanok that is situated near Gyeongbokgung station.Despite of having a history of only twenty years, they had established a reputation as one of the best Samgyetang in Seoul.
(9) Jongno 5(o)-ga Station – 종로5가
Gwangjang Market is well known for it’s food alley that offers a vast variety of traditional Korean food. Among the food stalls, the one that stood out was those that are selling Bindaetteok, with stacks of towering golden-brown crispy pancakes that are freshly fried and served piping hot!