Checking out BAU HOUSE: a Korean dog café!

Today I went with a friend to a dog café!

These kinds of pet cafés are pretty popular in Korea. The concept is pretty simple: enjoy a cup of coffee while playing with the resident dogs, or bring your own!

I went with my friend Erin, who’d found the place (located in Hongdae) online. It’s called “BAU HOUSE” – a clever play on words from Bauhaus.

I’d read online that the coffee would be pretty expensive, as it essentially acts as your admission fee. One Americano will set you back around $6, but the fun atmosphere is worth it!

The main area of Bau Haus

The main area of Bau House

BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (2 of 37) BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (3 of 37) BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (4 of 37)

The dogs would even walk up on the railing!

The dogs would even walk up on the railing!

BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (6 of 37)

Just chillin'!

Just chillin’!

Two dogs came to vissit after they saw Erin with snacks!

Two dogs came to vissit after they saw Erin with snacks!

BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (9 of 37)

Erin doing "shake a paw!!" with the big dog

Erin doing “shake a paw!!” with the big dog

Me feeding some of the dogs!

Me feeding some of the dogs!

BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (12 of 37) BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (13 of 37) BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (14 of 37) BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (15 of 37)

This dog came up to Erin wanting to play fetch!

This dog came up to Erin wanting to play fetch!

BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (17 of 37)

The resident dogs at Bau Haus

The resident dogs at Bau House

This dog was a bit strange

This dog was a bit strange

...Or maybe he was just too tired!

…Or maybe he was just too tired!

Loved this little furball!

Loved this little furball!

Erin and I loved this dog - he (or she) looked so regal! He was sitting on that stool so still, calm and composed for at least 20 or 30 minutes ^^

Erin and I loved this dog – he (or she) looked so regal! He was sitting on that stool so still, calm and composed for at least 20 or 30 minutes ^^

The little guy again!

The little guy again!

He was sniffing my camera ^^

He was sniffing my camera ^^

BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (25 of 37) BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (26 of 37) BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (27 of 37) BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (28 of 37) BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (29 of 37)

A cozy spot under the cash register!

A cozy spot under the cash register!

One of the other customers' dogs; looks like this little guy had enough fun for today!

One of the other customers’ dogs; looks like this little guy had enough fun for today!

BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (32 of 37)

Loved this dog!

Loved this dog!

BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (34 of 37)

The private area/front end of Bau Haus

The private area/front end of Bau House

BAU HAUS - Dog Cafe (36 of 37)

Looking into Bau Haus

Looking into Bau House

Info:

  • Hours: 1:30pm – 11:00pm weekdays; 12:30pm – 11:00pm weekends.
  • Address (English): 394-44 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. (Je-il Building, rear entrance, 1st floor)
  • Address (Korean): 서울특별시 마포구 서교동 394-44 제일빌딩 후면 1층
  • Phone: 02-334-5152
  • Location: Hapjeong Station (Line 2): It’s in the black shiny building between Exit 3 and 4. Can’t miss it!

Vietnamese Food at Little Saigon, Gangnam

For tonight’s dinner, I was feeling hungry a bit early and decided to stop by “Little Saigon”.

Little Saigon is a Vietnamese restaurant located about five minutes from Sinnonhyeon Station or 5-10 minutes from Gangnam Station, right behind Kyobo Tower.

Each time I’ve walk past it on my way home during dinner time, it’s been packed with people. I thought I’d pop in and see if it was alright. Decent Vietnamese food is pretty hard to come by in Korea, as most of the time it’s been too watered down (pho) or is just generally quite bland.

Little Saigon was pretty decent though!

Sweet chili sauce, sliced radish and peanut sauce

Sweet chili sauce, sliced radish and peanut sauce

Little Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine (2 of 19)

The salad rolls/goi con

The salad rolls/goi con

I had intended to just order one piece of salad rolls (2,000w / $2.00), but the waiter brought out the platter, which was four pieces. It was probably my fault because of the language barrier, but I asked the waiter anyways when he set it down. He apologized and said you could only order one piece at lunch time, but went and changed the bill anyways (and didn’t take the extra salad rolls back! Really nice).

Little Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine (4 of 19) Little Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine (5 of 19)

Stirfried noods with little pieces of samgyeopsal (Korean-style pork belly)

Stirfried noods with little pieces of samgyeopsal (Korean-style pork belly)

The noodles I ordered were awesome. They came with stir-fried veggies and bean sprouts, plus juicy morsels of samgyeopsal, Korean-style pork belly (like really thick bacon). The plate was probably big enough to feed two people.

Little Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine (7 of 19) Little Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine (8 of 19) Little Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine (9 of 19)

I tried so hard to get a decent photo of the noodles with my chopsticks! It's hard to hold them in one and and use the camera (sans-viewfinder) though T^T

I tried so hard to get a decent photo of the noodles with my chopsticks! It’s hard to hold them in one and and use the camera (sans-viewfinder) though T^T

(See caption above!) This is one of the pieces of samgyeopsal, which were done really well.

(See caption above!)
This is one of the pieces of samgyeopsal, which were done really well.

You have no idea how hard I tried (and how idiotic I looked) to finally get a semi-decent photo of one of the goi con pieces.

You have no idea how hard I tried (and how idiotic I looked) to finally get a semi-decent photo of one of the goi con pieces.

The restaurant interior

The restaurant interior

Little Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine (14 of 19) Little Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine (15 of 19) Little Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine (16 of 19) Little Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine (17 of 19) Little Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine (18 of 19)

Outside Little Saigon

Outside Little Saigon

Overall, a delicious experience!

Directions:

  • Gangnam Station (Line 2, Exit 9): Walk straight down the clubbing/bar street for about 5-10 minutes until you see the big Paris Baguette Café. Hang a left, and Little Saigon will be on your left on the ground floor.
  • Sinnonhyeon Station (Line 9, Exit 6): Walk down Gangnam U-Street (Gangnamdaero) until you see Paris Baguette Café on your right. Turn right, walk straight for about two minutes, and Little Saigon will be dead ahead.

Exploring Ansan’s Asia Village + Lunch at Samarkand Uzbek Kafé

After hearing countless people recommend grabbing some affordable and authentic Asian fare in Asan city’s international area, I decided it was time to make the 1.5 hour trip south of Seoul to check out what the buzz was about.

While Seoul’s Itaewon area usually gets all the attention for offering the best foreign food, the truth is that it is largely dominated by Western immigrants, with cuisine to match (American, French, Canadian, South African, Italian, etc).

Despite the fact that a few non-Western restaurants can indeed be found in Itaewon, many expats seem to agree that the most authentic and budget-friendly Asian foods lie in Ansan, a city a short commute south of Seoul.

Ansan doesn’t exactly have a pristine reputation among Koreans, due to the higher crime rates attributed to migrant Asian workers there (“Ansan – Ghetto or Mulitcultural Enclave?”). However, I must say that I didn’t feel unsafe at all walking around the international Wongok-dong neighbourhood. In fact, I found that the people were more friendly than in Seoul!

Here’s what I did this afternoon:

Thai restaurant to the left of the main street entrance

Thai restaurant to the left of the main street entrance

Looking eastward from the front street

Looking eastward from the front street

Vietnamese restaurant outside the Asian village

Vietnamese restaurant outside the Asian village

Vietnamese dishes

Vietnamese dishes

Vietnamese dishes

Vietnamese dishes

A sign pointing to the main street of the Asian vilalge

A sign pointing to the main street of the Asian vilalge

Indonesian food

Indonesian food

One of the first buildings you see upon entering Ansan

One of the first buildings you see upon entering Ansan

After walking down the main drag for a couple blocks, I hit this centrally-located park. It was pretty much empty, and (at least in my opinion) ugly. I boosted the colour and contrast in these photos; in reality, the park looks like a grim Soviet-era artefact. Maybe if they got rid of the concrete and added grass instead…

A park in the centre of Ansan's Asia Vilalge

A park in the centre of Ansan’s Asia Vilalge

A monument in the Asian village park

A monument in the Asian village park

"Eid Mubarak" message from Woori Bank nearby the park

“Eid Mubarak” message from Woori Bank nearby the park

The global monument in the park

The global monument in the park

"Thank you" messages in various languages on the steps of the monument

“Thank you” messages in various languages on the steps of the monument

"Thank you" messages in various languages on the steps of the monument

“Thank you” messages in various languages on the steps of the monument

A faded mural of famous Asian icons in the park

A faded mural of famous Asian icons in the park

The names of the Asian figures

The names of the Asian figures

The park facing southward

The park facing southward

A sign in the park

A sign in the park

A map of Ansan's Asian village in the park

A map of Ansan’s Asian village in the park

Lovely!

Lovely!

No peeing in the park!

No peeing in the park!

Another restaurant

Another restaurant

The main drag of Asia town

The main drag of Asia town

Dog meat (the sign was covering up the meat in the display case)

Dog meat (the sign was covering up the meat in the display case)

A street filled with Chinese restaurants

A street filled with Chinese restaurants

Artwork outside an administrative building

Artwork outside an administrative building

A message from your local government!

A message from your local government!

Himalayan restaurant

Himalayan restaurant

Real estate agency for migrant workers

Real estate agency for migrant workers

After strolling around a bit, I finally happened on Samarkand Kafé, a Uzbek restaurant that had received good reviews online. I awkwardly walked in, not sure whether or not I should do the usual head-nod/bow and “annyeonghasseyo!” (“hello!”) that Korean etiquette requires, since the server was  (obviously) from Uzbekistan.

Various dishes on offering...

Various dishes on offering…

Ansan (31 of 46) Ansan (32 of 46) Ansan (33 of 46)

Ansan (34 of 46)

I decided to order one “samsa” (spiced meat and rice-filled pastry) as a starter, based on the couple reviews I read online. Good. freaking. choice.

After another awkward fumbling around with words and culture (the server thought I was Uzbek and spoke to me in the corresponding language), I was brought a steaming warm pastry…

A samsa (3,000w / $3.00)

A samsa (3,000w / $3.00)

The samsa was made out of flaky pastry, and filled with meat, spices and rice

The samsa was made out of flaky pastry, and filled with meat, spices and rice

It was absolutely delicious, though definitely more of a wintery comfort food than something to eat on a hot, humid day! I didn’t care though; it was so good.

"Plov" - lamb meat, served on top of sliced carrots and a rice pilaf (7,000w / $7.00)

“Plov” – lamb meat, served on top of sliced carrots and a rice pilaf (7,000w / $7.00)

For my main, I ordered the also highly-recommended “plov”: tender lamb meat, served with carrots and a rice pilaf. The portion was huge!

I’d read online that Uzbek cuisine is pretty oily, and heavy on the meat and starch. This is true. Again, I’d suggest this type of food for a more wintry day. But yes, again, it was so good that I ate my fill of it!

SO delicious!

SO delicious!

Give me mooooore

Give me mooooore

So much meat! The plov was very heavy and filling. A bargain for $7.

So much meat! The plov was very heavy and filling. A bargain for $7.

The outdoor seating section of Samarkland

The outdoor seating section of Samarkland

Samarkland from the outside

Samarkland from the outside

After stuffing myself at Samarkand, I made my way back to the station, content that I’d tried something new today.

A Chinese-inspired model outside a cellphone shop

A Chinese-inspired model outside a cellphone shop

Heading south down the main drag back to Ansan Sation

Heading south down the main drag back to Ansan Sation

Staring northward from Ansan Station, towards Ansan's Asian village

Staring northward from Ansan Station, towards Ansan’s Asian village

Ansan Station

Ansan Station

To get to Ansan Station, take Line #4 Oido-bound and get off at Ansan Station. Leave through Exit 1, and walk straight across the road, using the underpasses. From there, you’ll hit the entrance to Wonggok-dong (ie: Ansan Asia town).

From there, you’ll find lots of different Southeast Asian and Chinese restaurants.

To get to Samarkand Uzbek Kafé, walk two blocks north of the entrance along the main street. Turn left, and Samarkand will be on your left.

The Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian and Chinese restaurants are too many to count.

However, I’ve read all over the web that the best Indian food in Korea is served at Ansan’s Kantipur restaurant. I considered visiting, but decided to go for Uzbek food (because come on, when’s the next time I’m going to get to eat that??). If you’re interested in dining at Kantipur, check out “The Moose” blog for a review and photos.

Otherwise, I’d recommend just walking around Ansan and seeing what tricks your fancy! The choices are endless.

A Stroll through Samcheong-dong (삼청동)

Yesterday, I decided to head north of the river and explore Seoul’s Samcheong-dong (삼청동) neighbourhood.

Located just north of Anguk Station and the traditional area of Insadong, Samcheong-dong boasts a number of artsy cafés, boutiques, and restaurants.

Despite the sweltering heat and humidity, I decided to head out for a quick jaunt – and by “quick jaunt”, I mean that I walked across the city from Gwangjang Market! It was worth it though, since it was the first time Seoul’s been sunny for a while, in this summer that many are dubbing “the longest monsoon season ever”.

Anyways, here are some photos I snapped up during my stroll:

(PS: check out my review of Café W.E., a fantastic Korean-Western fusion dessert café located in Samcheong-dong)

Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁)

Walking past Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) on my way from Gwangjang Market

A bicycle outside a cafe

A bicycle outside a cafe

Wall painting near the southern entrance to Samcheong-dong

Wall painting near the southern entrance to Samcheong-dong

Typical Samcheong-dong café fare: ice cream waffles and other sweet treats!

Typical Samcheong-dong café fare: ice cream waffles and other sweet treats!

Samcheong-dong (4 of 7)

Graffitied doors on a traditional Korean house (hanok) restaurant

Graffitied doors on a traditional Korean house (hanok) restaurant

Cute clothes

Cute clothes

Jewelry on sale

Jewelry on sale

The tree-lined street of Samcheong-dong

The tree-lined street of Samcheong-dong

Jewelry boutique having a sale

Jewelry boutique having a sale

Bus #11, which takes you to downtown Seoul, Gyeonbokgung Palace, Seoul Station, and Namdaemun Market.

Bus #11, which takes you to downtown Seoul, Gyeonbokgung Palace, Seoul Station, and Namdaemun Market.

Interesting sculpture near the entrance to Samcheong-dong

Interesting sculpture near the entrance to Samcheong-dong

Random storefront

Random storefront

Animal knick-knacks

Animal knick-knacks

Animal knick-knacks

Animal knick-knacks

Art gallery

Art gallery

Funky Starbucks-inspired set - they were cheap! Too bad the gallery was closed.

Funky Starbucks-inspired set – they were cheap! Too bad the gallery was closed.

At the gallery

At the gallery

Alleyway in Samcheong-dong

Alleyway in Samcheong-dong

Art on an alley wall

Art on an alley wall

Stairs leading to a restaurant

Stairs leading to a restaurant

French restaurant

French restaurant

Samcheong-dong (18 of 39) Samcheong-dong (19 of 39)

Giant ring outside of a shop

Giant ring outside of a shop

Locals browsing in a boutique

Locals browsing in a boutique

Cute clothes

Cute clothes

"Vintage" clothes

“Vintage” clothes

Incredibly over-priced "vintage" shop

Incredibly over-priced “vintage” shop

Hello Kitty Café

Hello Kitty Café

Chocolate shop

Chocolate shop

Samcheong-dong (27 of 39) Samcheong-dong (28 of 39)

Clothes for display outside

Clothes for display outside

A little shrine to the Virgin Mary outside?

A little shrine to the Virgin Mary outside?

Cute buidling

Cute buidling

Designer space

Designer space

Samcheong-dong (33 of 39) Samcheong-dong (34 of 39)

Retro Pie shop

Retro Pie shop

Samcheong-dong (36 of 39)

Café W.E. - Korean and Western fusion, featuring things like sweet red bean fondue and hotteok pancakes!

Café W.E. – Korean and Western fusion, featuring things like sweet red bean fondue and hotteok pancakes!

Artsy storefront

Artsy storefront

Artsy storefront

Artsy storefront

Samcheong-dong is located downtown, right next to Seoul’s famous Gyeongbokgong Palace.

Most stores open around 10:30am-11:00am and close around 7:00pm-10:00pm.

Directions:

• Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 1) – 10 minutes on foot
• Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3, Exit 5) – 20 minutes on foot

Map of Samcheong-dong (Photo: Visit Korea)

Map of Samcheong-dong (Photo: Visit Korea)

Korean Fusion Dessert at Café W.E. (West ‘n East)

As part of my “be a tourist in your own town” week today, I decided to visited Seoul’s artsy Samcheong-dong  (삼청동) area, which is accesible from Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 1).

I’d briefly visited it before last fall, but I didn’t really take any photos. So I thought I’d come back today, and do the “thing” to do in Samcheong-dong, which is browse boutiques and check out a dessert café.

Now, I’d been watching Arirang TV special that featured a new Korean-Western fusion dessert café. What caught my eye were these delicious-looking hotteok/pancake things, and the sweet red bean fondue (served with sweet, chewy rice cakes, tteok, for dipping).

–> “Hotteok – 호떡” (pronounced “hoh duck”), is a popular Korean street food, served mainly in the winter. It’s almost like a fried-pancake dumpling, made of a thin batter, and filled with sugar and powdered nuts that turn to a syrup when fried.

I looked it up online and found its name:  W.E. (West ‘n East). This is supposed to acknowledge the two influences (Western and Eastern) in its cooking.

I had no intentions of going there today, but as I was wandering around the back streets of Samcheong-dong, I found it by accident. And, since I was already hungry, it seemed like a sign!

Oh, and if the Arirang video wasn’t enough, you can check out this SBS one featuring a cute Korean guy (skip to 1:14 for the review):

The service was fantastic. Upon opening the menu, I noticed that they’d just made a new fusion item: MAKKGEOLLICINNO (makgeolli + frappuccino). I was ecstatic! It even came with a warning that one glass could make you drunk (sold!).

–> For those who don’t know, makgeolli is a traditional Korean rice wine, with a milky body and sweet taste. 

Since I consider myself a bit of a makgeolli connoisseur, I felt I had to order it. I knew I would soon regret the decision, since my tolerance for lactose is slowly dwindling, but I felt hey – it’s my last week in Korea!

Makgeollicinno!

Makgeollicinno!

It was so worth it – and since I was warned upon ordering that the famous hotteok-pancakes would take about 20 minutes to prepare, it was nice to have something to snack on while waiting.

But DAMN – this thing is strong! I understand why they had the warning label ^_^ It’s also quite large. I think two people could probably share one, since it’s very heavy like a milkshake. I think I understood it as being a makgeolli + cappuccino  but it was definitely closer to a Starbucks frappuccino.

Shortly after, the hotteok-pancakes arrived!

The hotteok/pancakes

The hotteok/pancakes

Spectacular presentation

Spectacular presentation

See how thick the hotteok are??

See how thick the hotteok are??

Need I say more?

These were divine! Definitely something for two people to share, though, since the hotteok are so thick and are STUFFED. The filling is made up of sugar, nuts and berries, an untraditional hotteok ingredient for sure.

I’m a sucker for any kind of dessert that mixes warmth with cold, so to have this warm hotteok served with ice cream was just perfection. The two create an irresistible contrast, especially if you take a bit of the peanut powder and caramel with the ice cream, and top it with the warm berry compote before eating it with a piece of hotteok. I should’ve taken a photo of that.

Looks like a warzone!

Looks like a warzone!

So delicious

So delicious

Sadly, this was a classic case of “my eyes were bigger than my stomach”, so I felt very bad to have to waste so much.

I felt like Buddha walking out though – calm, content, and with a fat belly!

Interior in the front

Interior in the front

Hallway leading to the back

Hallway leading to the back

The kitchen and front end

The kitchen and front end

Tables in the front

Tables in the front

Banner outside the restaurant

Banner outside the restaurant

W.e.: "West and East"

W.e.: “West and East”

Restaurant exterior

Restaurant exterior

Café W.E. also has locations in Hongdae and Sinsa-dong.

To get to the one in Samcheong-dong, follow the map on Café W.E.’s website here.

Their menu is also online here.

  • Hours: 11:00am to 11:00pm from Monday to Friday; 12:00pm to 10:00pm on Sundays
  • Subway: Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 1)
  • Address (Korean): 서울 종로구 팔판동 43-2 [더블유이]
  • Address (English): W, 43-2, Palpan-dong, Jongro-gu, Seoul
  • Phone: +82-2-739-0919
  • Facebook: facebook.com/WestnEast
  • Twitter: @WestnEast
  • Website: www.westneast.co.kr

Seoul’s Gwangjang Market (광장시장)

Today I decided to take a trip to Korea’s first market: Gwangjang Shijang (Gwangjang Market – 광장시장).

The fact that I consider myself an avid shop-a-holic, plus having lived here for a year means that I was long overdue for a visit to this downtown Seoul staple.

While markets like Dongdaemun and Namdaemun seem to get a lot of attention, Gwangjang appears to go quietly unnoticed. Many friends of mine had never even heard of it, despite having lived here for quite some time.

Gwangjang’s main draws are its fabrics and textiles (many of which are supplied wholesale to other more well-known markets, in addition to being used to make Gwangjang’s famous hanboks) and its street food.

At one of the smaller entrances to the market

At one of the smaller entrances to the market

A hanbok store's front display

A hanbok store’s front display

Fabrics for sale

Fabrics for sale

Gwangjang Market (4 of 25)

Walking through the market

Walking through the market

Gift sets made from rice cakes and other snacks

Gift sets made from rice cakes and other snacks

Gwangjang Market (7 of 25) Gwangjang Market (8 of 25)

The top eats at Gwangjang Market are bindatteok (빈대떡) – fried mung bean pancakes, and bibimbap (비빔밥) – mixed veggies served on top of rice with spicy chili paste.

Bibimbap is one of Korea’s signature dishes, and a favourite among international visitors. However, it’s not commonly seen as a street food, mainly because of the large space needed for its assembly.

Bindatteok is a heavy, oily dish, served best with makgeolli (막걸리) – Korean traditional rice wine. It’s also best eaten on cold, rainy days. It’s comfort food, for sure!

However, today was one of the most hot and humid days of the year, so I didn’t order any bindatteok. I wasn’t feeling hungry enough for bibimbap either, so I just looked ^_^

A woman selling mung bean pancake (bindatteok - 빈대떡)

A woman selling mung bean pancake (bindatteok – 빈대떡)

People eating at the different vendors

People eating at the different vendors

Gwangjang Market (11 of 25) Gwangjang Market (12 of 25)

Women selling pumpkin and sweet red bean porridge from giant cauldron-looking things

Women selling pumpkin and sweet red bean porridge from giant cauldron-looking things

Gwangjang Market (14 of 25)

More hanboks

More hanboks

Gwangjang Market (16 of 25)

A man eating mixed veggies on rice (bibimbap - 비빔밥)

A man eating mixed veggies on rice (bibimbap – 비빔밥)

Gwangjang Market (18 of 25)

The various ingredients for bibimbap (비빔밥) are laid out. I got the impression that you get to pick and choose.

The various ingredients for bibimbap (비빔밥) are laid out. I got the impression that you get to pick and choose.

Tteok, tteok; I love tteok!

Tteok, tteok; I love tteok!

More gift sets - the octopus one caught my eye!

More gift sets – the octopus one caught my eye!

A woman making spicy fermented cabbage (kimchi - 김치),

A woman making spicy fermented cabbage (kimchi – 김치),

More women selling bindatteok (mung bean pancake).

More women selling bindatteok (mung bean pancake).

Gwangjang Market (24 of 25)

A woman selling various cosmetics and household products

A woman selling various cosmetics and household products

Well, I won’t lie – Gwangjang Market didn’t really blow me away. I think if I’d tried the bindatteok or bibimbap I would’ve “gotten more” out of the experience. Otherwise, it just seemed like your typical Korean market.

I’d stay it’s still worth a visit, though!

Info:

  • Hours: 7:00am to 10:00pm, although some vendors may open or close later/earlier.
  • Subway: Jongno 5(o)-ga (Line 1, Exit 8) or Euljiro 4(sa)-ga (Lines 2 and 5, Exit 4)
  • Websitehttp://www.kwangjangmarket.co.kr/  (Korean only)
A map of Seoul's Jongno and Dongdaemun areas - Gwangjang Market is in the top-left corner (Photo: Visit Seoul)

A map of Seoul’s Jongno and Dongdaemun areas – Gwangjang Market is in the top-left corner (Photo: Visit Seoul)

Urban Nature: Relaxing by Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon Stream

Yesterday I had some time to kill between attending a press conference for JFNK and meeting my friend for dinner.

Since the press conference (which was raising awareness about underground religion in North Korea) was held at the Korea Press Center, right in downtown Seoul, it was easy to wander around pass the time.

I decided to head down to the popular Cheonggyecheon (청계천) stream, which is 8km long. Running through the heart of Seoul, Cheonggyecheon is a great spot to sit, relax, read, take photos or enjoy a cold ice cream (which is what I did ^_^).

Most of all, it’s a great place for people-watching. You can see locals, tourists, couples, families, and the elderly all enjoying this urban oasis.

iPhonetography!

iPhonetography!

Walking near Jonggak Station

Walking near Jonggak Station

Business towers

Business towers

Cheonggyecheon during the Korean War

Cheonggyecheon during 1910-1945 (photo: Seoul Metropolitan History Committee)

As you can see from the photo above, Cheonggyecheon wasn’t always a nice place. In the first half of the 20th century, it was actually a slum. Then, as Seoul began to develop, it was paved over to make room for a new highway.

In 2003, the Mayor of Seoul Lee Myung-Bak (who would go onto become the President of Korea) proposed an expensive beautification plan for Cheonggyecheon. Even today, those who visit Seoul often note that there is a lack of parks and green space – perhaps the price paid by rapid modernization. Lee’s $900 million development project was met with a lot of controversy when it was first proposed.

However, it’s since become a favourite among Seoulites both young and old.

It’s also representative of Seoul’s rapid development. When I was here in 2011, there were no plants along the river. Now, of course, that’s not the case.

That’s possibly my favourite thing about living in Korea – everything is changing (and has changed) so fast.

Cheonggyecheon stream

Cheonggyecheon stream

Cheonggyecheon stream

Cheonggyecheon stream

Cheonggyecheon stream

Cheonggyecheon stream

Staring down Cheonggyecheon stream near the KTO HQ

Staring down Cheonggyecheon stream near the KTO HQ

After wandering a bit more, I accidentally found myself in front of the Korea Tourism Organization building:

Chunggyecheon (8 of 10)

The KTO headquarters

The KTO headquarters

The KTO headquarters

The KTO headquarters

Emotional times… I leave for Bali in less than 12 hours, and after that, only two more weeks left in Korea. Where did one year go?

Review: Bonny’s Pizza in Haebongchon

Last night, I had the pleasure of going out with a friend of mine to Bonny’s Pub in Haebongchon.

We chose Bonny’s because a mutual friend of ours had won a voucher for a free pizza + two beers at a charity event I helped organize back in May. Bonny’s was kind enough to donate a voucher for the raffle, but sadly, my friend couldn’t use it before she left the country.

So, she left it in the kind hands of your’s truly and our mutual friend Wang Min (whom we’d met at a Makgeolli Mamas and Papas meet-up).

Seeing as my days in this country are numbered, Wang Min and I decided to head into the hip/up-and-coming Haebongchon neighbourhood for some free pizza and beer.

Outside Bonny's

Outside Bonny’s

Outside Bonny's

Outside Bonny’s

The interior of the pub

The interior of the pub

Bonny’s is a self-serve beer pub/sports bar. Two large TV screens show “football” (what we North Americans call “soccer”) while several booths, barstool tables and chairs line the inside.

Since the place is so small, you just go up to the til to order and pay on the spot. Your server will bring you your food and draft beer, otherwise, you’re free to help yourself to the bottles in the fridges (paying first, of course!).

Wang Min and I decided to keep it classic, and ordered Bonny’s pepperoni pizza with thick crust. Bonny’s does have the option of ordering thin curst pizzas, but I’d read on some food blogs that thick was the way to go – a true “American-style” pizza.

Regular pepperoni with thick crust

Regular pepperoni with thick crust – 12,000w

Needless to say, it was delicious. It had a nice thick, greasy crust that reminded me of Pizza Hut-style pizza from back home. And yes, we finished the whole thing! But not without washing it down with a couple free draft beers that came with the voucher.

Bonny’s has Max beer on tap for 2,500w/glass, which is not bad at all. Wang Min treated me to a Tsingtao, which tasted deliciously refreshing on that hot summer night.

I read that Bonny’s two popular pizzas are the Beast and the Kimchi Cult…

"The Beast" - beef pizza (Photo: Bonny's Pub, facebook)

“The Beast” – beef pizza (Photo: Bonny’s Pub, facebook)

"Kimchi Cult" home-made, organic kimchi with bacon, onion & cheese (photo: Bonny's Pub, facebook)

“Kimchi Cult” home-made, organic kimchi with bacon, onion & cheese (photo: Bonny’s Pub, facebook)

I am a bit skeptical about the notion of putting kimchi on pizza… Though based on the photo Bonny’s has on their facebook page, it looks like a fairly doable concept. If I was here longer, I’d definitely give it a try.

Lots of international beers to choose from (Photo: Bonny's Pub, facebook

Over 70 brands of international beers to choose from (Photo: Bonny’s Pub, facebook)

Bonny's Pub (4 of 5)

Pizza Menu (Photo: MissLeeDa - Naver Blog)

Pizza Menu (Photo: MissLyda – Naver Blog)

If you’re looking for a thick, greasy and cheesy American-style pizza, then Bonny’s is your place.

One thing I wish I would’ve known a few months ago: Bonny’s does 4,000w unlimited Americanos on Sundays (they call it their “Hangover Special”). Pair that with a greasy 3,000w slice of pizza, and  you’re good to go. Or, if you’re like some friends of mine who swear by beer as the best hangover cure, you can’t beat a 640mL bottle of Tsingtao for 5,000w.

Pizzas range in price from 8,000w (small) to 18,000w (large), with prices fluctuating depending on the toppings.

The open-air atmosphere was cool, but on such a hot and humid night, some AC would’ve felt even better!

A Korean blogger noted that there is NO hangeul menu, and that one can only order in English ^_^ Too bad for the non-English speaking Korean pizza-lovers out there, although I’m sure they’d get by okay just by pointing and grunting at the pictures (hey, that’s what I do here!).

Overall, Bonny’s seems like a pretty popular neighbourhood place. I approve.

Info:

Hours: 2:00pm to late (Monday to Friday) and 11:30am to late (Saturday, Sunday)

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/BonnysPub

Website: none

Phone: +82-2-792-0303

Directions:  Noksapyeong Station, exit 2. Walk straight up the hill, passing the kimchi pots on your left. Keep walking for about five minutes, and Bonny’s will be on your left, right after Phillie’s Pub and across the street from Indigo. If you see the Pinoy Mart on your right, you’ve gone too far.

Exploring the Beauty of Yongjusa Temple

Yongjusa – in Korean, it means “temple of the dragon with a magic ball”.

With a history as rich as its name and stretching back to the 10th century AD, Yongjusa is a major temple in the Jogye order of Korean Buddhism.

I had the chance to visit Yongjusa (located in the city of Hwaseong) on a recent trip with Invest Korea / KOTRA (Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency). During our trip, we visited a couple foreign-invested companies in Korea’s Gyeonggi region, before grabbing lunch in the countryside.

Needless to say, the fresh air, nature, and calm atmosphere was a welcome change from the usual hustle-and-bustle of Seoul.

The restaurant sign reads "sangroksu"

The restaurant sign reads “sangroksu”

Taking the dirt path to 상록수

Taking the dirt path to 상록수

A rice field on the way to the restaurant

A rice field on the way to the restaurant

Chickens outside the restaurant/house!

Chickens outside the restaurant/house!

Typical Korean-style table setting: tons of small side-dishes surround the main dish, which hadn't arrived at this point.

Typical Korean-style table setting: tons of small side-dishes surround the main dish, which hadn’t arrived at this point.

Marinated crab side dish

Marinated crab side dish

My favourite! Tteok (sweet, chewy rice cake)

My favourite! Tteok (sweet, chewy rice cake)

Yummy tteok (pronounced "dock")

Yummy tteok (pronounced “dock”)

A poster in the restaurant

A poster in the restaurant

Looks like 상록수 (Sanroksu) had been featured on TV a few times

Looks like 상록수 (Sanroksu) had been featured on TV a few times

After wrapping up lunch, we were back on the bus and on our way to Yongjusa.

Yongjusa was built after a previous temple standing in its place burnt down in the late 800s. Its name, “temple of the dragon with a magic ball”, was chosen after the King who built it had a dream before the construction began. In it, a dragon descended from the heavens holding a magic ball in its mouth.

The King Jeongju of Korea’s Joseon dynasty built the temple as a memorial and tomb to his late father.

Now, it’s a major cultural and historic site located in the city of Hwaseong, just south of Seoul…

Entering the temple grounds..

Entering the temple grounds..

Statues near the entrance

Statues near the entrance

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Our tour guide

Our tour guide

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A lion statue

A lion statue

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Upcoming celebration?

Upcoming celebration?

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Another tour group - maybe Templestay participants?

Another tour group – maybe Templestay participants?

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A pond on the temple grounds

A pond on the temple grounds

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So many Buddhas!

So many Buddhas!

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Interesting tidbit - the artwork here was inspired by the painter's visits to Europe, where he saw Orthodox Christian paintings of saints. Can  you see the similarities? (mainly the halos)

Interesting tidbit – the artwork here was inspired by the painter’s visits to Europe, where he saw Orthodox Christian paintings of saints. Can you see the similarities? (mainly the halos)

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A map to Yongjusa

A map to Yongjusa

You can get to Yongjusa through taking subway line #1 to Byeongjeom Station; about an hour and ten minute’s ride from Seoul.

Also, those interested in doing a Templestay at Yongjusa can find out more on their website here.

Dining at Seoul’s Noryangjin Fish Market

Just before school ended a few weeks ago, some friends and I made the jaunt to Noryangjin Wholesale Fisheries Market, located right below the centre of the Han River.

Despite the fact that the market was located a mere 10 or 15-minute bus ride from our dorms, for a few of us (myself included), this was our first time going. Noryangjin Market is a pretty major tourist site in Seoul, and a definite “must-see” while visiting the city.

One of our more passionate fellow exchange students would lead impromptu mini-tours to the market during the wholesale auction time. The thing is, these tours were a tad bit early. While I certainly would’ve loved to see the lively atmosphere and get a good deal on the fish at the same time, I just couldn’t seem to drag myself out of bed in time for these 4:00am adventures! In hindsight, and with only a few weeks left in this city, I wish I would’ve gone.

In any case, we still made it to the market!

However, it was a bit last-minute and I didn’t exactly research enough travel tips before going.

We all think we were ripped off a bit, but the food was so good and the experience was so essential that we didn’t care 🙂

Entering the market from the subway

Entering the market from the subway

_MG_1916

Would you like tentacles in your meal today?

Would you like tentacles in your meal today?

Stalls upon stalls

Stalls upon stalls

Where to next?

Where to next?

A fishmonger stands with his wares

A fishmonger stands with his wares

This salmon looked pretty good, so we picked up a couple filets and some lobster-ish looking things (hey, they were really good!). After meeting up with a couple other friends who’d already bought their fish, we made our way to one of the nearby restaurants to get everything all cooked up.

Nice presentation

Nice presentation

Et voila, the results! Juicy, tender salmon. I didn’t take as many photos as I would’ve liked, but you get the picture!

Possibly some of the best salmon I've ever tasted - and I'm from the Pacific Northwest!

Possibly some of the best salmon I’ve ever tasted – and I’m from the Pacific Northwest!

Of course, all of that seafood needed to be washed down with a few bottles of Korea’s finest ale, Cass. Hey, when you don’t have a nice Chardonnay for the fish, what’re you gonna do? I should mention that the conversation at this meal was conducted in French, which was super for me. Good practice, and a good ego adjustment to realize that my French isn’t as good as I sometimes like to believe it is!

_MG_1923

The prawn/lobster-ish things are in the centre.. Couldn’t figure out what they were, but they were good!

The restaurant even gave us a “service” (Konglish for “on-the-house”) haemul pajeon. Nice!

Focus is off :( But the haemul pajeon (seafood pancake) was pretty good!

Focus is off 😦 But the haemul pajeon (seafood pancake) was pretty good!

Overall a memorable experience.

Not sure if I’ll try to make it back to Noryangjin before I leave, as I have a sneaking suspicion that you can only get the best deals during the wholesale auction (and hey, I make no promises about being able to get up at that time!).

Also, I was able to visit Jalgachi Market in Busan during my free K-Shuttle bus tour last fall. There, I was able to stuff myself with (raw) fish for less than $10 – as opposed to this dinner in Seoul, which cost over $30.

Granted, in Busan I had a local/tour guide with me who knew the best places to go – and to be honest, we didn’t even buy anything inside the market. We went to a vendor on the street outside, which could be why we got such a good deal.

As well, we took our spoils to go and sat on a park bench instead of paying a “BYOF” (bring your own fish – lol) fee somewhere ^_^ I’m not cheap, just thrifty!! I swear it!

Anyways, if anything, a trip to Noryangjin is worth it just for the photos. It’s a lively, colourful atmosphere that you may not see back home.