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cat1For cat lovers travelling to Seoul, this place is a must to visit for you 🙂

Seoul has a lot of quirky and unique cafes, each with their own speciality. One of the unique cafes in Seoul is dog cafes and cat cafes. There are a few of cat and dog cafes spread around the capital. But only a few outstanding ones.

One of the cleanest cat cafe I’ve been to is located in Myeongdong, one of Seoul’s busiest shopping places. The cafe is located in the top level of one the shop houses and it makes a perfect place to getaway from the hustle-bustle in the street below.

Look out for this Garfield cat! He was dancing Psy's Gentleman with another mascot...

Look out for this Garfield cat! He was dancing Psy’s Gentleman with another mascot here…

Don’t worry not to be able to find the place, because the cafe’s mascot, Garfield the Cat, will be walking around on the main street of Myeongdong. He will show give away the leaflets with map details.

Before entering the cafe, you need to take off your shoes and change into slippers. To sit down in the cafe, you pay a small admission fee that includes any hot or cold beverage of your choice. But you can stay as long at the cafe as you’d like. There are a few rules how to handle the cats too.

This cat is welcoming the guests at the counter

This cat is welcoming the guests at the counter

The cats here are clean and don’t smell. Almost most of them are adorable cats. But they are not as active as dogs. Most of them will only approach you if buy cat treats. Most of the cats when I came were sleeping, so what we did not interact much with them.

Snacking time!

Sleeping…

and sleeping…

The cats here wear cute cat collars and most of them are made by the staff here. The cats even have their own special toilet. Different from the dogs in the dog cafe which can just anywhere produce their waste, the cats knows the right place to do their business.

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If you are a feline, this Cat Café is a must to go to. Overall, it is really quite a nice and clean cafe for relaxing, especially when you want to take a break from the busy shopping activity in Myeongdong.

Admission: 8,000KRW for entrance and a drink.

How to go there: 

Take subway to Myeongdong Station (Line 4, blue line) and get off at exit #6. You will see Uniqlo just right in front of the stairway exit and turn left from the exit. Walk straight towards the BSX shop and turn right. The cafe is on one of shophouses on the right side (you’ll see the banner)

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miss0Do you know what is dosirak? In Korea, dosirak is a lunch box meal, something that Korean children take to school some decades ago.

One famous dosirak cafe is Miss Lee Cafe. The cafe is actually where Yong Hwa and Seohyun couple from e ‘We Got Married’ Korean reality TV programme, shot one of their lunch dates. There are a Myeongdong and Insadong outlets, and I visited the outlet in Insadong.

The cafe is situated just at the gate of the art streetnear the Anguk subway station. The cafe is located on the second floor in the shophouse on the corner. Upon entering the cafe, you will be welcomed by some photos of celebrity visits here.

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It is a special café which serves very delicious lunch box Kimchi rice. Inside the dosirak, there are kimchi, rice, egg, spam and seaweed. The proper way to eat dosirak is to mix all the ingredients together by shaking it. It’s really fun! Just close the lid tightly and shake the box well so when the lid opened the kimchi mixed with the rice. The ingredients maybe simple, but it’s flavourful and very Korean.

The cafe also serves traditional Korean sweets made of sugar, rice, nuts and perilla seeds. Taste similar like Indonesian snacks “kue manco” so I love it!

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Shake that Dosirak!

The cafe is filled with notes and most of the notes are hang on the tree in the centre of the room. Visitors can leave a note and hang it there as a remembrance.

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To be honest, the price for a simple dosirak menu is a pretty pricey. But the cafe left us a fun experience. So if you are a first timer coming to Korea and want to experience eating Korean lunch box, you have to come to this cafe. Ready and shake that dosirak!

Website: http://www.missleecafe.com

How to go there:

Take subway to Anguk Station (Line 3, orange line) and take exit #6. From the exit, walk straight and you will reach Insadong main gate. You will see a convenience store GS25. The cafe is on the 2nd level.

Kongbul at Hongdae

Kongbul at Hongdae

My first time dining at Kongbul 콩불 was at Hongdae outlet with my mom and my brother. After walking around Idea almost the whole afternoon, we were starving. Since our next destination was Hongdae, we decided to have our late lunch there.

Kongbul 콩불 is franchise restaurant and has many other outlets across Seoul. Initially I had no idea about what food they serve here. But the menu pictures outside attracted me. The idea of a huge platter of meat and lots of veggies sizzled together on a pan was so tempting.

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We walked into the restaurant. Since it was not a lunch nor dinner hour, there were only 2 other guests besides us. After choosing our seats, I went to the counter to order. From the menu, they basically served only one type of dish with different choices of toppings.

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From the menu here, there are 2 types; with / without squid (ojingo 오징어). There are sets for 2 with options of toppings of noodle, cheese, fried rice and bacon and drink. We ordered for Kongbul Set A (without squid and bacon). And because there are 3 of us, we have to add extra a la carte for one person.

Other side dish such as fried rice 볶음밥 (2,000KRW), udon noodle (1,500KRW), rice (1,000KRW) are available. They also serve soju 소준, beer 맥주, raspberry wine bokbunja 복분자, plum wine maehwasu 매화수, coke 콜라, cider/sprite 사이다, calpis 쿨피스, etc…

Before cooked

Before cooked

Finally it's ready!

Finally it’s ready!

They brought out a huge pan of uncooked food onto our table, which had an integrated stove. Now we have to wait till the meat and the veggie was cooked. Despite of having the integrated stove on out table, the staff would do the cooking for us.

After 10-15 minutes, finally the food were cooked! It was so good! I’m personally a fan of bean sprouts. Although it may be a simple meal only with pork meat and bean sprouts, it is cooked in a teppanyaki-style. Just slightly before the meat and veggie was cooked, the udon noodles went in.

For those who can’t eat spicy, unfortunately this is not a good option for you. This delicious dish is spicy. Even for me, who love spicy food, admit that this is spicy. The drink that came with the set was our saviour for the meal. It could really cool down out the hot taste of red chilli paste gochujang 고추장. 

Last but not least, when we were already almost full, the staff went back to our table and throw in the rice with more red chilli paste gochujang 고추장. If you eat enough of Korean dish you will encounter that some dish mix rice only towards the end of the meal. This is what they called fried rice or 볶음밥.

The serving maybe intended for 3 people, but I’m pretty sure 2 serving is enough for 3. However, it is pretty much a steal at ₩15,000 🙂

 

How to go there:

Take subway to Hongik University station 홍대 (line 2, green line) and take exit #9. Turn left to the street and keep walking towards the Aritaum cosmetic shop. Before you reach the Aritaum, turn right and walk along the restaurant streets. The restaurant is on the left hand side, located just a few shops before Gong Cha bubble tea shop.

It’s not a cartoon or a super heroes name. The SuperDog here stands for hotdog. And Solbin is the owner of the hotdog shop. Solbin had created his own recipe and for me, his is the best hotdog in Seoul.

Although Seoul is the capital of Korea where lots of foreigners coming to the town, most burgers or hotdogs has been modified to be Koreanish. It’s difficult to find a good hotdog in Seoul. But Solbin‘s succeeded.

Solbin‘s hotdog business started off by selling hotdogs in a cart 2 years ago in Apgujeong Rodeo Street. But slowly, his cart was upgraded into a small shop. It was a bit tricky to find his shop and I was lucky to spot it by accident at one corner of the Rodeo Street alley. But nevertheless, his stall is very eye-catching, fiery-red painted and decorated with light-bulbs.

Apgujeong Rodeo Street

Solbin's eye-catching stall

Solbin’s eye-catching stall

Despite of its location at Korea’s luxury fashion street, don’t expect you will sit down on a fancy restaurant or cafe. What is more surprising is that his hotdogs are popular amongst celebrities. He even claimed that he is a close friends with some. Well, the stall proves it… Signatures from many celebrities were up on his walls. I even spotted Super Junior-M Henry‘s signature and polaroid.

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Solbin is very friendly and generous to his guests, Koreans or other nationalities. His English might be limited, but he will try his best to converse with the basics. His most special menu is the bacon wrapped dogs with Korean style coleslaw, chilli sauce, ketchup, creamy cheese, and chopped onions. Very tasty and flavourful!

Solbin

Solbin, posing with his hotdog. Notice the celebrities’ signatures on the wall…

Bacon wrapped dog with generous cheese, chopped onions and chilli

Since Apgujeong has a lot of fancy bars and drinking pubs, hotdog is a good fast food option for late night snacking. That’s why Solbin gets his recognition from his regular customers. He opens in the evening to provide late night snacks for drinking masses. So don’t bother to go in the afternoon.

Whenever you are in Apgujeong or Rodeo Street, don’t miss your chance to try out this freaking good Solbin’s Superdog!

 

Facebook: Solbin’s Superdog FB or www.facebook.com/Solbinsuperdog

sam0The area around Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace connects a few unique places that worth of visit. From Buckhon Hanok Village to InsadongSamcheongdong is another street that famous for its numerous art galleries, shops and restaurants and is an appeal to artistic types.

The houses in Samcheongdong is unique because of their architecture is a combination of both Hanok (Korean traditional houses) and modern houses. The cafes are decorated in cute and cozy ways so the visitors can enjoy delicious food with beautiful views.

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There are a few famous street food here too. The famous one is hotteok 호떡. Previously I’ve mentioned about hotteok 호떡. in my post about Insadong, which is a variety of filled Korean pancake, and is a popular street food of Korea. It is quite easy to spot the stall, because there will be a staff marketing along the street and most of the time, there will be people queuing buying the snack. Another famous street snack here is the chicken skewer (did not take any photos of it).

Japchae Hotteok 잡채 호떡

Japchae Hotteok 잡채 호떡

The stores have different operating hours but most open around 11AM and close at 9PM. My friend bought me to one good cafe here. The cafe name is Huidong-a Oemada 희동아 엄마다. The cafe specialises in cakes made with ddeok (Korean rice cake). They also offer patbingsu (sweet ice flakes topped with fruit and red bean paste). The cafe is located quite inside, but they put their signage on the main street.

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Samcheongdong very quiet and less commercial than other notable shopping districts, but that’s what make me fall in love with the place. Strolling through the street makes me forget the noise and very mind-relaxing. The street towards the end of Samcheongdong will bring you to Bukchon Hanok Village. 

How to go there:

Take subway to Anguk Station (Line 3, orange line) and exit #1. Walk straight until you see there is a street on your right side. The street all along is Samcheondong.

Gwangjang Market is the nation’s first market and nowadays becomes a popular tourist spot. The market is where the locals shops for silk, fabric, bedding, hanbok, clothes, home furnishings, and goods for future brides and grooms. When the shops close in the evening, that’s where more people coming here to have their company dinner or night snacks.

A stall selling kimchi along the way of the market entrance

Food stalls selling different types of food

Although most of the market shops are close, but not for the food market. As the night gets deeper, the market gets livelier. As I entered the market, I saw a big hall of food stalls selling different type of food. Bibimbap 비빔밥 (mixed rice), bindaetteok 빈대떡, tteokbokki 떡뻑이 (rice cake), soondae 순대 (pig blood sausage roll), japchae 잡채 (stir-fried glass noodle), mayak kimbap 마약김밥 (‘addictive’ rice rolls, smaller than the normal ones), and etc. I could not wait to taste all the food.

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The traditional market is also famous for its bindaetteok 빈대떡. What is bindaetteok 빈대떡? It is a pancake-like made from mung bean batter, mixed with meat and vegetables, and deep fried until it is crispy. Not only it is delicious, it doesn’t cost a lot. One piece of bindaetteok 빈대떡 is costs less that 4,000KRW!

The biggest and most popular bindaetteok 빈대떡 stall is “Sunhwane Bindaetteok 순화네 빈대떡”. The snacks seems to be the speciality of the market itself. People coming here just to eat the bindaetteok 빈대떡. There are 2 food carts in the middle of the market. But the seats are limited. So the ahjumma told us to go to the shops around the corner which has more seats. You may have to queue for a while.

Sunhwane Bindaetteok 순화네 빈대떡

Sunhwane Bindaetteok 순화네 빈대떡

As it is in the market, the shop is lack in cleanliness, but it’s not that bad. Since the shop is not huge, it is a bit stuffy. Perhaps because the tables and chairs are put close to another. But, once the bindaetteok 빈대떡 was served, we forgot about the packed crowd. They are crunchy outside but soft inside. If you dip the bindaetteok 빈대떡 into the soy sauce, it is very delicious.

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gwangjang

As we still wanted to try the rest of the food outside, we only ordered 1 piece for meat and veggie version each. The veggie version is in the size of a small pizza and the meat one is smaller. They will cut one piece into 4 for sharing. Similar to pajeon 파전, it’s best to enjoy together with makgeolli rice wine. We ordered the bottled makgeoli but it did taste as nice as the fresh makgeoli one.

Bottled Makgeolli

Bottled Makgeoli

The best food here are manyak kimbab 마약김밥 and bindaetteok 빈대떡. It was good that there were a few of us, so we could share the portions together. I will definitely come back here again to have a real street food with a good taste and price. It is the place where you can taste all kind of Korea street food in the cheapest price!

Opening hours: 9am-10pm (for normal stores), 8.30am-11pm (for food stalls)

How to go there:

Take subway to Jongno(5)-ga Station (line 1, dark blue line) and take exit #9 or #10 (nearest to the food market).

As a typical Korean street snacks, tteokbokki can be found everywhere. Food carts, small food stall, food court, and in many restaurants in Seoul. Sindang-dong is a home for 15 over tteokbokki (rice cake) restaurants. Unlike those street-food tteokbokki, they serve it fresh, including the fish cakes, boiled egg, ramyeon noodle, fritters, and dumplings.

The best time to eat tteokbokki is at night. As the night gets deeper, the more people coming to  Sindang-dong. Most of the restaurants are open 24 hours.

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The most famous and original tteokbokki is created by a street food vendor, Ma Bok-rim. According to the history, the recipe was invented by accident when she accidentally dropped a rice cake into her father-in-law’s jajangmyeon or chinese noodles with black bean sauce. It tasted better than her expectation and then she started to experiment with spicy chilli paste or gojuchang 고추장.

Since the original tteokbokki is created by Ma Bok-rim, this restaurant is where we are heading to. The legendary restaurant is opened since 1953. There a few people waiting in the queue before us. So I walk around and see the restaurant where CN Blue’s Yonghwa and SNSD Seohyun had their first date in the Korean variety show “We Got Married”. 

Ma-Bok-Rim Tteokbokki, since 1957

The legendary Ma-Bok-Rim Tteokbokki 마복림 떡뻑이, since 1957

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Grandmother Ma Bok Rim’s Youngest Son 마복림 할머니 막내 아들이, restaurant where Yonghwa and Seohyun had their first date for ‘We Got Married’

We Got Married Banner in front of the restaurant

We Got Married Banner in front of the restaurant

Sindang Tteokbokki is served as one whole meal. First, the tteokbokki (rice cakes, noodles, fishcakes, fritters, dumplings and boiled eggs, some seasonings and sauce) will come in a huge pan filled with water and cook just like a hot pot. Now we just need to wait till it’s cooked…

You can add extra toppings like cheese, ramyeon noodles, fried dumplings, etc if you like. When it is cooking, you have to keep stirring to prevent the rice cakes from sticking to the pan. After waiting, our tteokbokki is ready!

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The secret of this restaurant’s tteokbokki lies in the fact that red pepper paste is mixed with Chinese soybean paste for a sweet and spicy taste. This is very different from the street-tteokbokki, with unique and savoury taste, not too spicy.

So interested to try the original taste of this Korean tteokbokki? Sindang-dong is waiting for you 🙂

How to go there:
– Take subway to Sindang Station (line 2 or 6, green or light brown line) and take exit #7. Keep walking straight and after 5-10 minutes you will see Jungbu Fire Station. Walk pass the big signage of “Sindangdong Tteokbokki Town”. Look to your left and you will see the large restaurant sign with a picture of the elderly Ma-Bok-Rim.
Opening Hours: 9:00 am ~ 1:00 am (weekdays)
Closing Days: Every second & fourth Mondays of the month, Chinese New Year, & Chuseok holidays
Contact No: (02) 2232-8930
Ma-Bok-Rim Menu: Tteokbokki
10,000 KRW (for two) / 12,000 KRW (for three) / 17,000 KRW (for four) / 20,000 KRW (for five)
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