Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Seoul Food

A trip would not be complete without trying local food! Here are the memorable ones from my recent Seoul wanderings:

134-7 Seosomun-ro, Jung-gu, 100-865 Seoul

My friend, GaYeong, brought me to Oh Hyang Jokbal, one of the top 3 jokbal restaurants in Seoul. The restaurant is located in an alley near the City Hall and it took us some time going to and fro looking for the restaurant.

Jokbal 족발 is pig's trotters or pig's feet. The jokbal in this restaurant is cooked in five secret spices/ingredients that gives its delicious aroma. The meat is very tender and is best paired with the restaurant's garlic sauce 마늘소스. We asked for half of the order of jokbal to be not spicy and the other half spicy. GaYeong and I finished every bit of non-spicy jokbal. The other half was too fiery for our tastebuds: one bite and we had to drink a glass of water to put out the fire in our mouths. The jokbal set also came with tteok mandu guk 떡만두국 (rice cake and dumpling soup).

We had this sumptuous meal as our late lunch (2PM), inadvertently avoiding the long queues this restaurant often attracts during lunch and dinner. We walked out of the restaurant staggering in fullness with a doggie bag of spicy jokbal in hand. (Even if the entire order of jokbal were not spicy, we wouldn't have finished it. The set was good for three to four persons and costs KRW 34,000 or about Php 1500.)

55 Donhwamun-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

GaEun, another good friend of mine, took me to a restaurant known for its noodles. GaEun ordered bossam gwa mandujeongol 보쌈과 만두전골 (pork belly and spicy dumpling noodle soup, KRW 25,000). This was another really good meal! I ate so much and gave up before GaEun did. I think she eats more than I do but she never puts on weight!

Gopchang Alley, Hongdae

After watching Nanta! in the Nanta Theater in Hongdae, I followed my good friend, MinJun, through the streets of Hongdae to a restaurant serving gopchang 곱창 (intestines). He ordered pork intestines and other offal, and started grilling it all once it landed on the table. In between bites, he kept saying he couldn't believe people ate this stuff! I couldn't believe we finished all of it!

I did not take note of the restaurant's name or its address, but if you want to try gopchang, there are many restaurants in Hongdae that serve this.

Hyoja Bakery
54 Pirundae-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

I had read about this bakery and set a goal to find it. My quest was a success and a shock—there was a long line outside the bakery. I did not expect Hyoja Bakery to be that famous. I had half a mind to turn back and leave, but the other half argued that I had walked a long way just to find it. In the end I fell behind the long line of Koreans and waited my turn. The wait wasn't so bad; one of the bakery workers would walk down the queue and give out samples of their bestsellers. I was the only one that did not look Korean and he asked where I was from, then helpfully enumerated and explained in English what their five bestsellers were: corn bread, onion cream cheese, blueberry cream cheese, bread with tteok (rice cake), and bread with fruits.

To queue or not to queue?

My breads got squished when I got home.
Clockwise from top: corn bread, sweet bread with fruits, bread with tteok.

I planned to buy one of each of their bestsellers but when I got inside the bakery, I was in for another surprise. Their goodies were either too big or sold by half a dozen. I decided to buy three of the five bestsellers even if I knew I wouldn't be able to eat all of it. I figured I could share it with the other guests at the guesthouse I was staying in (Kam Guesthouse). Of the three I bought, I liked the corn bread best. It wasn't your ordinary corn bread; aside from corn, it also had onions, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots.

Sweet bread with fruits for breakfast the next day

Sindangdong Tteokbokki Town
Sindang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul

I like tteokbokki 떡볶이 (rice cakes). But I have only tried tteokbokki cooked in gochujang (red chili pepper paste). When I found out there was a tteokbokki street that had tteokbooki cooked in a variety of ways, I added it to my itinerary. What I didn't know was that the restaurants in this street only served food good for three to four persons. All I could do was walk down the street and look at every photo on the restaurant glass walls with my stomach grumbling. The woes of traveling alone in South Korea.

Welcome to Tteokbokki Town (a street, really)

Put your soles to work and find these Seoul food with my handy dandy map:

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

South Korea on Three

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