Insadong is a famous shopping area known to carry many traditional and cultural Korean souvenirs/gifts. You can also find a lot of street food vendors in Insadong selling Korean snacks. Ssamziegil in Insadong is somewhat of a departure from this – The Ssamziegil “building” is filled with floors and floors of more modern or urban shopping. There are a couple of street food vendors within Ssamziegil, such as “ddong bbang,” pictured below, which boasts more of a humorous approach to food. Ssamziegil also boasts many indie artists and shops. The walls of Ssamziegil are covered in graffiti – there seems to be no limits to where or what people can put on the walls. Many of the notes or drawings on the wall are not just from locals but tourists from many other countries.
Samgyetang is a traditional Korean chicken soup/broth dish. You basically have a whole or half of a chicken in the soup. Usually a game hen is used. The chicken is filled with sweet rice, jujubes, ginseng, and other ingredients for a healthy, filling, and homey dish. As I was taking the above photo of my food, I was pretty much drooling. It’s one of my favorite dishes.
This particular samgyetang restaurant is pretty famous – it’s called Tosokchon Samgyetang – located next to the Gyeongbokgung station. The broth is a bit thicker than what I’m used to but it’s full of flavor and isn’t heavy. I felt rather healthy after eating here. But as you can see, there is a long wait. Apparently there’s always a wait but to avoid the crowds, try a visit after lunch hours.
I feel really lucky – I got the Fujifilm x100 as a gift recently. We took it out to Little Tokyo, Los Angeles for a test run. It was really enjoyable and I got a few comments like “Hey, that’s a cool camera!” It really is a beautiful looking piece of hardware. For its size, it takes lovely photos and the camera is actually fun to use. It’s nice to not lug around a full DSLR! I can’t wait to take more photos with it. Here are some to start…
Jeju-do is well known for amazing pork. The quality and taste are world famous and locals and tourists alike flock to a special pork BBQ restaurant called DonSaDon/DohnSaDohn (their number is 746-8989). Visitors can see celebrity autographs on the wall of DohnSaDohn and the restaurant has been featured on many popular Korean food shows/news. Due to its popularity, we waited a good while before a table was ready for us. Once a table was ready for our large group, we were seated promptly and given aprons to wear.
The server(s) cook most of the BBQ for you – our particular server went above and beyond making sure our food was perfect and everyone was happy. The aroma is intoxicating – the pork was amazing. I felt like I had been eating pork BBQ improperly my whole life. The meat was moist but cooked thoroughly (this is sometimes hard to achieve), the sauces were the perfect complement, and the vegetables really balanced out the texture of the meat. Beer and Korean cider were the perfect way to end every few bites. The food service ends with a hot pot of kimchee jjigae…which, is also great. It tastes like…home.
I long for the day when I can visit DohnSaDohn again.
A few photos from the famous Jeju Island market (shi-jang). This market gets many visitors a year and emphasizes Jeju’s prized crops/foods such as “Gyool” which is basically a tangerine, other fruits, seafood, and various vegetables. The market is usually lively and packed with friendly and helpful vendors. Prices are very competitive and storefronts display a colorful array of products with humble handwritten signs.
My aunt took me to this small restaurant on a cold autumn day. I asked what the name of the place was. She simply said it was referred to by locals as “the restaurant within the Samsung apartments.” She found out about this place via word-of-mouth. The owners of this small eatery confirmed themselves as an unnamed, non-chain restaurant. It’s not technically in Seoul – it’s located in Bundang within the main Samsung apartments. The kimbahp and kalguksu are delicious. The kalguksu is the perfect balance of hearty salty broth and noodles that have the perfect “bite” to them. The kimbahp is meatless yet packed with flavor and is rather filling. On busy days, seating may be hard to find. My aunt and I waited about 15 minutes, which is seemingly an eternity in fast-paced Korea. Regardless of the wait, the food is worthwhile. I definitely plan on visiting again!