I can’t believe how quickly our two weeks away went! As most of you know Claire and I went to Seoul and Hong Kong last month for a break away from London. In today’s post I’d like to share my top 3 Korean experiences that you must try if you’re in the area!
Starting off with our first Korean BBQ, we met up with Rita (one of Miranda’s closest friends) and she took us to her favourite Korean BBQ restaurant in the centre of Hongdae – The 통큰구이 I don’t think they have an English name, although it’s registered as Deo Tongkeungui on my card.
The staff spoke English, so it was easy to order and choose what we wanted. Unfortunately, this restaurant doesn’t offer vegan food however they were so attentive and created a little box for Claire to eat – it contained a mountain of rice, kimchi, turnip slices and seaweed. Whilst she was happily eating that, myself and Rita ordered the main event – all you can eat meat for 15,000 won- we couldn’t believe how cheap it was! The man regularly changed our grill, so our cooked meat wouldn’t get stuck to the metal plate.
We also tried soju for the first time- a much loved Korean alcoholic beverage. We tried a flavoured one and the original. You can drink it as a shot or mix it with beer. Personally, I thought it tasted better by itself. The original flavour doesn’t have much of a taste apart from a bitter after taste. The apple flavour reminded me of a more sophisticated apple sour. Both very tasty it’s a shame we didn’t try all the other flavours!
I’ve had Korean BBQ before, but it was nowhere near as good as this one! I left it to Rita to do the cooking as apparently the proper way to cook the meat is to cut it evenly onto the grill. Once everything is to your satisfaction- meat wise you take some lettuce and dunk the cooked meat into some sauce, then place it onto the leaf, (optional) you can put kimchi on it as well, then wrap it like a parcel and dip it into the sesame & salt sauce, then pop it into your mouth. It was so good, I can see why it’s so common to have a BBQ- plus it’s a great communal meal for friends and family to enjoy together.
My second recommendation would be Myeongdong Kyoja (명동교자) a noodle restaurant that is close to Myeongdong cathedral. We met Jae (one of Asiel’s close friends) at exit 6 of Myeongdong station, it was a short walk to the restaurant. This is an authentic Korean restaurant, it is well known for its knife-cut, handmade kalguksu (noodle soup) which is displayed as their main item on their menu. Their other popular dishes are mandu (dumplings), bibim guksu (spicy noodles), and kongguksu (noodles in cold soybean soup).
When we arrived the atmosphere was buzzing, the restaurant was packed full of customers, the majority of them were Asian- so we knew we were in the right place. 😉The 3-storey restaurant had a lean menu with delicious looking food. This restaurant wasn’t vegan friendly either, but Jae worked his magic and they bought out some cold noodles which is usually eaten in a chicken broth (they put in a separate bowl). For me and Jae, we ordered the pork dumplings to share, these were to die for- so tender and juicy, I’m literally salivating thinking about them! We also ordered the Kalguksu ‘chopped noodle’ soup, the portion sizes were huge; each slurp was tastier than the last. The chicken broth had a lot of flavour, the texture of the noodles was silky and moorish. Sadly, the dishes defeated me, the dumplings would have done for me as the sizes were that big, but I ordered with my eyes as per usual.
It all came to 37,000 won this may sound like a lot but it’s about £25 for 3 people! I strongly recommend this restaurant if you’re ever in the area, you won’t be disappointed.
My third recommendation is Gwangjang Market (광장시장), a great place to try all of Korean specialities under one roof. We entered the market from a non-lit entrance and we thought we had missed it, but of course citymapper wouldn’t be itself if it didn’t take us in a weird direction. When we finally arrived at the food market, it was bustling with locals and tourists alike enjoying the food vendors. Each row specialised in its own food, example one row had stalls that sold seafood pancakes, the next row was mayak kimbap, blood sausages and tteokbokki and so on.
You can tell the best ones were packed with hungry customers, and the ones that weren’t so busy were hustling for customers to eat at their stall. It seemed rather competitive, but everyone seemed to get along.
We visited a couple of stalls whilst we were there; our first stall were two cute elderly ladies serving up tteokbokki, mayak kimbap and kimchi. The kimbap was 3000 won for one but because we shared it – it came to 6000 won. Kimbap is sushi-like, seaweed-wrapped rolls which are stuffed with carrot, pickled daikon radish, and rice seasoned with sesame oil. We wondered around to check out other stalls and came across some deep-fried chicken – there was an option to have it sweet or fried – of course I went for fried! This came to 1000 won.
By the time we saw Yoonsun Cho from Netflix original documentary ‘Street Food’, Seoul South Korea (episode 6), we were too full to fit more in! Her dumplings looked and smelt divine, this is a great excuse to come back and now we know where she is so we can go straight there.
I hope you all enjoyed reading my Korean food experiences, I strongly recommend these places, but if you have limited time then the market would be the best place to experience traditional Korean food.