Showing posts with label asia. Show all posts

What we ate at Seoul

We had so many food options in Seoul. We didn't even got to try the street foods. Often times, we save our appetite for the main meal where we sat down and eat. We walked around so much that we want to rest our feet for a while we enjoy our food.

Below are the foods we tried. Some of them we really like too much that we ate it almost everyday.

  • Plane food
Okay, we are not in Seoul yet but en route. We took Korean Air so we can have a direct flight to Seoul and try to see their service and food options. And oh boy, they didn't disappoint.

Throughout the 13 hour flight, I had the selection of Bibimbap (seen below), congee and meat/potatoes combo.

Seen at Gyeongbokgung Palace

The Gyeongbokgung Palace was originally built in 1395, it was the royal palace and center of government during the Joseon Dynasty. It was destroyed by the Imjin War and was abandoned for two centuries. Later it was restored to its original design that incorporated the traditions of the Joseon era.

Gwanghamun gate. I have been here a couple of times but it felt like seeing this place with fresh eyes. I forgot how magnificent this place was.

Our Last Full Day in Seoul

It is our last day in Seoul, we had enough exploring and now its time for more serious stuff like shopping. Usually, I don't like to do a lot of going back and forth as I want to save my energy and focus the task at hand-- shopping for the kids.

Today we went around in the morning in Itaewon, Namdaemun in the afternoon and dinner in Noryangjin.


We stumbled upon this large store in Itaewon. It is a store full of cartoons called the Line Friends with merchandise. There were giant stuff toys. It's like a wonderland chock full of cuteness. I saw a recent billboard in Times Square, New York, I assume they would open a store here soon.

Trip to Gyeongju

Before the Joseon dynasty, there was once an ancient kingdom referred to as Silla. It was composed of three kingdoms that unified the Korean peninsula. Gyeongju was its capital and it became one of the prosperous and wealthy city of its era. Political instability had contributed to its decline until it was succeeded by the Goryeo dynasty.

There were two options on travelling from Busan to Gyeongju, it is a choice between bus or train. You can easily catch the train from the Busan Train Station and the bus from the Bus station one subway stop from Beomeosa. If you ask me, it is better to take the bus since the bus station in Gyeongju is in the middle of town compared to the train station which is located on the outskirts. If you count local traffic, it is another 45 minutes of travel time.

After we got off the bus station, we are all hungry and would like to start our second leg of our trip with a full belly before heading back to Seoul. We chose this non-descript place that serve the usual Korean food. We ordered a simple Seafood Pancake and Tofu Stew. But while we are waiting for our main meal, here is the ban chan (side dishes) spread they provided us. This is local food at its best.

Beomeosa Temple

Beomeosa Temple means the temple of heavenly fish. It is said that a gold fish came from the sky and settled on the well on top of Mount Geumjeongsan.

The original temple was built 1,300 years ago until it was lost during the Japanese invasion in 1592. It was renovated in 1713 and became one of the most delicate architectures in the Joseon era.

Trip to Busan

Busan is South Korea's second largest city. You would have heard this name from popular movie such as Train to Busan, it was also on the list of New York Times' 52 Places to Go in 2017 (it is number 48 on the list).

While Seoul is a bustling metropolis with people in suits, in Busan it is the largest industrial area and at first glance it is mostly blue collar. It has now gone through a renaissance and it has established itself as a creative and international center for hosting sports tournaments and events like the Annual Busan Film Festival.

Second Day in Seoul

It is our second day in Seoul. The night before we were so tired that we did not even finished the baseball game in Jamsil Stadium. We slept early but woke up at 3 am and so hungry that we can't even go back to sleep. Instead of fighting the urge, we went outside the hotel where there was a 24 hour restaurant. It turned out that this will be our breakfast routine for the next couple of days.

This was our first breakfast in Seoul. One thing about this city that there is always a place to eat round the clock. You would never get hungry in Seoul. I am  beginning to love this city a little more.

Temple Food - Balwoo Gongyang

For our trip in Seoul, I made sure that our itinerary were more focused on new experiences. I have always admired travel shows where they show you how to prepare Buddhist temple food from scratch. They seem to be pain staking since they made it by hand and no short cuts.

All reviews for Balwoo Gongyang seem consistent. They were all good and well recommended. It is walking distance on the main Insadong area. Convenient enough that we booked lunch reservations earlier through email. They were accommodating and had us on the list on the day and time we wanted.

Our DMZ Tour

The DMZ tour was something that I skipped the last time when I was in South Korea. I know it would be on my list on my next visit.

We were picked up at the hotel lobby and the car dropped us off on the meeting place where the bus (a brand new one!) was waiting for the rest of the tour group.

Once were off the road, the tour guide gave us an insight and history of Korean history and the creation of DMZ (De Militarized Zone). She had us fill out our name and information on the list to get permission to enter the zone. You also need to bring your passport.

First day in Seoul

Our flight landed 4am early. The subway and buses doesn't start till 5am and our hotel check in is at 3pm. We were tired from the long flight but we are forced to fight jet lag -- well at least we have a bed to crash unto.

Baseball in Seoul

I didn't even know what to expect on a South Korean baseball game. It turns out that the experience isn't any different from ANY game but it is geared to entertainment and much more.

We head our way to buy tickets. It was on a Friday afternoon and an hour before the game starts. The ticket window is right in front of the subway entrance, it was hard to miss as people line up for tickets. There were a handful of vendors selling foods such as chicken, beer and snacks. Apparently, you are allowed to bring your own food inside the stadium.

Recap: Korea Series

The photo below was taken in Incheon airport on our way back home. We are scheduled to land in San Francisco and transfer to another flight to Newark, New Jersey. Those Sopranos sang their heart out that it hit a sore spot (for me) as they bid us goodbye. Seoul made a great impression on me. As I said before, I vow to come back for more.

Korea series: Coffee And Tea

The first thing that I noticed once we started exploring around Seoul was the abundance of coffee shops. They seem to be everywhere. Some are chains, some are stand alone shops. Coffee in these places aren't cheap at all. But it gives you that fancy space to rest and relax that weary feet.

Korea series: Korea Food Expo 2011

Whenever you have precious finds, there should be a let down. We saw a billboard outside the Coex mall advertising the Food Expo. We had so much fun at the Kids Fair so we thought why not check it out. It turned out that it is only for trade only. Let me share some ho hum events:

Korea series: Food Trip

It felt that this particular trip had been a blur. Looking back, my sister and I had rare sit down dinners in Seoul. It is also our fault that every time we see something interesting we stop and look. Most of the time we ended up snacking. When its time for a proper meal, we are not in the mood and sit down for another bout of bottomless meal. I kid you not.

To get an idea of how a typical restaurant meal, it starts with a ban-chan. It is a small side servings, a bit more hearty than an appetizer. It really depends how generous the host gives you but it typically has a side of kimchi and other spicy and fermented greens. Often times, these sides do complement with the meal you have ordered.

Korea series: Random Notes

I had accumulated a handful of random photos that are too short for a single post. I thought to share you some random quips and photos that were taken from the trip.

Korea series: Insadong

We woke up listening to a local news channel and heard that the Vietnam president is in town for a state visit. He was there for a proposed joint venture project with the South Koreans. Ho hum.

We got out of the subway in Insadong and the first thing we noticed was a motorcade with a limo in front with Vietnam and South Korean flags. Walking through the shops we saw a bunch of people staring at a small shop. We saw folks in suit with an earpiece and they look so serious. They finally started to move along and we saw a group of well dressed women shopping.It is expected that Insadong has been the first place to visit on most foreign dignitaries.

Insadong is the main art and antique district in Seoul. It used to be the a wealthy district during the Joseon era till the Japanese occupation. Wealthy residents were forced to sell their belongings and hence the district became an antiques alley.

Korea series: Kids Fair 2011

We were supposed to walk around the Coex mall when we stumbled an ongoing Kids Fair for educational items. The inquiry took about a half hour run around since everyone we asked kept us pointing to another person. It turned out that we had to fill up a form for our information and since we were in the children's apparel business, they eventually waived our entrance fee.

Korea Series: The Coex Mall

It was our second day in Seoul. We are still suffering jet lag and had no problem on starting our day early. Rush hour is the worst time to take the subway. People can get very aggressive in trying to catch the train. They pack it so tight that my back is actually leaning on somebody else's back. It was the most uncomfortable feeling but the other person doesn't seem to mind. Apparently, they have a different definition of personal space.

It is one of the largest underground shopping center in Seoul. The Coex mall is a one stop shop and entertainment place to go in a rainy day. You can find a lot of foreign brands here and also you maybe able to find familiar western food places such as KFC, Friday's and Bennigans. This place is so huge that it even have a movie theater, an aquarium and a small museum.

Korea Series: The Loot

Preparing for the trip, I packed a medium sized suitcase full of clothes that would last me for 10 days. The weather forecast around that time frame would be sun and rain at 42F. That sounded cold to me. So I packed a handful of turtlenecks and sweaters. The luggage was so bulky that it weighed at 45 pounds. If I need to bring something back then I have to hand carry it. I try to avoid carrying anything with me on board since we have a full day waiting for our connecting flight in San Francisco. I hate to drag all that in the city.

And of course once on Korea, one can not resist on not bringing anything back. I ended up buying a handful of childrens clothes and a pair of shoes (for moi!).