Tuesday, October 7, 2014

To The Streets We Go

Let me first say that food is not everywhere in Seoul and popular streets are pretty much asleep at night. It was a different experience compared with what I have grown up with.

In Malaysia, when we say there's food around, there really is food around. Five minutes from my condo and I can get my hands on chinese, malay and indian food. The smell of food wafts in the night air, and it carries on past my bedtime. I definitely made a mistake of expecting Myeongdong to be like Jonker street, because Jonker is food heaven at night while Myeongdong snoozes under the moonlight.

So while we were there, we found ourselves disappointed, especially after being told by a hotelier that there was food right around the corner. All we saw were the lack of it, and on most nights we retreated to 7eleven for a bowl of ramen. Anyway, cultural differences aside, I did enjoy Korean street food.

These are my tries:

#1 Hoddeok

I had it twice, because why not? I like sweet stuff, and this was sweet. It was 2,000 won per piece, which made it hard not to convert to ringgit and gasp at the large bowl of curry noodles I can get for the same price. 

No ruler to measure the claims
of it being 32cm though.

#2 32cm Ice-Cream

We bought one and shared it. The texture was not as smooth as McD's but understandable if it is required to stand that tall. I think it was 3,000 won, or was it 2,000 won? Can't remember. 

#3 Dragon Beard Candy

We actually tasted the Dragon Beard Candy in Guilin, China, and it was a let down. So we were very skeptical about tasting the Korean version. But when we did, it just completely blew our taste buds. They tasted so good! At least to me, that is. A box of 10 small pieces is 5,000 won. If it was cheaper, I would have gotten more.

#4 Jipangyi Ice-Cream

Yes, we had more ice-cream. This time in the shape of a J. The cone is corny, and the ice-cream was alright. Still not as smooth as McD's and I have no idea why. It was 4,000 won. No doubt a pricey ice-cream. 

#5 Bao, Pau, Steam Buns

This was stumbled upon when we entered Namdaemun. The pau was slightly translucent and the feeling were vegetables and thin pieces of beef. It tasted a lot like a vegetarian pau. I can't remember the price though. 

#6 Sausage Wrapped with Fish Cake

The name pretty much tells you how it tastes like. It was 1,000 won per stick, if I'm not mistaken.

# 7 Convenient Store Food

- Real Brownie: I decided to try it because it was talked about a lot. We paid 5,000 won for two small boxes, 4 pieces in each. It's not bad.

- Ddeokbokki snack: We got our hands on the 7eleven version because it was the cheapest; 1,000 won for a pack. Everyone loved it, which was surprising because my parents don't eat junk food, especially my mum. It was crunchy, sweet, and spicy, definitely worth trying.

- Seaweed: Definitely felt like we were carrying air home. Can't recall the price, but it's pretty standard everywhere we went.

We definitely did not try all the street food in Korea, and we opted out of some because they were just too expensive. But we still ate more than we usually did, which is definitely a good thing... WHEN on a holiday. 

Now back to eating healthy! Wait, I take that back. The M&M's I bought at the airport duty free section are calling to me, and the Real Brownies and Jeju chocolates have learned my name too. I think it's going to be a challenge for a while... a Real challenge.

Check out my other posts on South Korea:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Most Expensive Food Ever!

The food in S. Korea was very expensive for a fellow Malaysian like me. Firstly, the conversion rate is 1,000 won to RM 3.20. Secondly, most meals cost around 5,000 to 8,000 won. Do the math and you'll see why it is very expensive. 

Anyway, to spare you the rant on how weak the Malaysian currency is, I'm going to continue on with the memorable places I dined in during my trip.

#1 Seafood Forest

Location: A restaurant near Ilchubong Sunrise Peak.

Price: 64,000 won for 4 (if not mistaken)

Taste and experience: Seeing the live abalones move, possibility screaming in a frequency too low to hear as they are dunked into hot soup, was interesting to witness. Seafood in Malaysia does not come to you alive but dead... seafood in Jeju spend their dying moments with you.

#2 2 servings of Black Pork, 2 servings of Bibimbap, 1 serving of Sanggyetang

Location: A restaurant in the tourist area surrounded by museums and tons of international food outlets and cafes. 

Price: 67,000 won (if not mistaken)

Taste and experience: Ordering was quite a challenge because apparently, you can't have separate orders. So, we actually took a while trying to explain what we wanted in Mandarin. Taste wise, it was definitely better than the Seafood Forest. I had the sanggyetang and it reminded me of watered down porridge. Black pork was good too, but I'm honestly not a fan of bibimbap.

#3 McDonalds

Location: They exist, you just have to look for them.

Price: Roughly 5,000 won for a set, depending on the set.

Taste and experience: The first time I had the quarter pounder, so it tasted normal. The second time I had the double bulgogi burger... which was weird in my opinion. It tasted like black pork with so much sauce in a bun. My brother was fine with it though... so it was just me. 

#4 Best Meal Ever!

Picture from Callistonian.net
Location: Insa-dong. Along the main street, at the edge of a small alley. It had a traditional design and it played old English songs from my parents' era. Lots of foreigners dining. 

Price: 36,000 won.

Taste and experience: Great! The beef, chicken and pork were served on hot plates with rice. Let me repeat that... with rice! It was different from the other meals we had and I think the restaurant adapted to fit the taste buds of tourists. Maybe I was hungry, but it was a satisfying meal that didn't cost as much as the rest. 

#5 Grilled Pork and Beef ribs

Location: A red-walled, tiny restaurant, along the uphill walk to Hill House Hotel. When we were heading to our hotel upon our arrival in Seoul, I noticed the restaurant being packed during lunchtime. So, we gave it a go on our last night.

Price: 50,000 won for 4.

Taste and experience: The grilled pork ribs were really tender and tasty. It reminded me of satay, actually. The beef ribs on the other hand, were rather chewy. It was a good meal though, because the side dishes were very different and much better than the ones we had before. They also kept topping them up. The lady that served us asked if we wanted rice with our food and served us each a bowl of soup, which gave me a feeling that the restaurant is chinese owned.

*On a side note, none of us enjoyed Kimchi. 

That's all for memorable meals. Clearly we ate more than that, but those aren't worth mentioning. My next post will be about the street food, so stay tuned!

Check out my other posts on South Korea:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

S.Korea Hotel Reviews

My review on the places I stayed in while in S. Korea.

# Jeju Four Seasons Hotel

Room: Because of miscommunication between Hotel.com and the hotel, we were forced to share beds for a night. My mum and I had to sleep on a single bed, which meant no movement and little rest. The bathroom was clean, big, and with rain shower. 

Breakfast: A buffet breakfast everyday, with same dishes except for different canned fruits. 

Overall: Nice and clean. Unfortunately, did not get the best sleep. It is definitely crammer than it looks in this picture. Not the kind of room you want to hang out in.

#2 Hill House Hotel, Seoul

Room: Much bigger than Jeju Four Seasons, with two queen-sized beds. I shared one with my brother but it was still rather uncomfortable. I move a lot when I sleep, and not being able to makes me wake up periodically at night. The bathroom was clean, huge, and with a bathtub. 

Breakfast: Simple toast and eggs. You have to make an order and a lady would fry the eggs and toast the bread for you. 

Overall. Nice and clean too, but much bigger and comfortable than Jeju Four Seasons.

Both hotels had a very nice set up, and they looked professional and classy. Even though their locations were in back alleys, they presented themselves well. 

I personally would recommend Hill House Hotel because it's in walking distance to Hoehyeon station as well as Myeongdong and Namdaemun. If you read my simple itinerary, you would know that we walked a lot. The hotel was in a good location and we saved money on transportation.

Before leaving for my trip, I wrote a post describing the hotel and my expectations. My expectations weren't met, but the experience was acceptable.

Check out my other posts on South Korea: