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Traditional Korean

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.

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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.

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)

School Food is definitely my most favourite restaurant in Seoul. This Korean fusion brand has more than 80 outlets across the county. School Food has been my addiction starting from my first visit (click here to read about my first visit to School Food).

In my first review, we ordered their Carbonara tteokbokki  까르보나라 떡뻑이. On my second visit, I tried their soy-carbonara ddeokbbeoki 쏘이 까르보나라 떡뻑이 and turned out it is more flavourful, sweet, with rich creamy sauce. It may be more spicy than carbonara, since they mix gochu 고추 (chilli pepper) in it. This is a must-to-order if you love spicy and cream sauce. For me, the dish has been my regular menu every visit.

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Soy-carbonara Tteokbokki 쏘이 까르보나라 떡뻑이, a must-to-order

If you don’t like something creamy, you can opt for Cheese tteokbokki 치즈 떡뻑이. Similar to the original, School Food’s Cheese Tteokbokki is served in red chilli paste, but topped with mozzarella cheese. Spicy? Yes it is..

It may be looked similar to pasta dishes, but it tastes totally different with the red chilli paste sauce. The rice cakes are chewy and tender combined with melted mozzarella cheese, create a combination

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Cheese Tteokbokki 치즈 떡뻑이

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Prawn Mari 통새우마리

School Food‘s other specialities are their kimbab rolls. But the kimbab is not those you usually find on the food cart, it is a mini version of kimbab, more similar to sushi maki. Coming here a number of times, I have tried most of their makis : Bulgogi Mari 불고기(데리야끼)마리, Spam Mari 1 스팸마리1, Spam Mari 2 스팸마리2, Special Mari 1 스페셜마리1, Special Mari 3 스페셜마리3, and also Prawn Mari 통새우마리.

My favourite maki of all is spam mari 2 (rice rolls stuffed with spam meat, cheese and mayo, wrapped with seaweed and egg). My Korean friend taught me how to eat the maris, is to dip into the ddeokbbeoki sauce. Spam mari 2 and soy carbonara tteokbokki make the best combination of all…

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Bulgogi Fried Rice 철판 쇠고기 볶음밥

How about their fried rice? I don’t find their fried rice is fantastic. The bulgogi fried rice is too oily and dry. Perhaps because the put too much seaweed or soy sauce, it looks like a burnt rice.

School Food is now not only open in US, but they have 2 outlets too in Jakarta, indonesia (Central Park and Lotte Kuningan Avenue). Although the taste is not as nice as Seoul’s ones but good enough to cure my school-food-sickness.

Website: www.schoolfood.co.kr

Myeongdong, not only famous as a shopping place in Seoul. But it is also the spot where we can find the famous kalguksu noodles that one should not miss. Myeongdong Gyoza is known for their knife-cut, handmade kalguksu noodles / 칼국수.

myeondong gyoza

For K-drama lovers, the shooting of ‘You’re Beautiful’ took place at the restaurant. It was the scene when Go Mi Nam (Park Shin Hye) ate the kalguksu noodle 칼국수 and toured around Myeongdong to wait for Hwang Tae Kyung (Jang Geun Suk).

There are still queues although they open 2 outlets. Thanks to their efficiency and sitting arrangement system, the queuing time was shorter than I expected.

They only serve 4 kinds of food in their menu and three of them are noodles. But don’t get it wrong, all are their specialities that make you want to come back again. Most people order the kalguksu 칼국수, a combination of handmade noodle and garnish, served with dumplings in a thick chicken broth. Tastes really good if you mix with their special homemade spicy with strong garlic-taste kimchi.

Gyoza Kalguksu noodle

Gyoza Kalguksu noodle

Although one could finish one generous serving of kalguksu 칼국수 alone, I have to share the portion. Another special delicacy that one should try is their mandu (만두) or steamed dumpling. I really love the dumplings. The soft-skin dumplings are stuffed with pork, vegetables, leek and sesame oil. One serving comes with 10 pieces of fat steamed dumplings. The dumplings goes really well with the dipping sauce made of soy bean paste, green chilli, vinegar, and spring onion.

Big-fat delicious steamed dumplings stuffed with pork meat, veggie and leek

Big-fat delicious steamed dumplings stuffed with pork meat, veggie and leek

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bibiimguksu 비빔국수

If you want something cold and spicy, try their bibiimguksu 비빔국수. Bibiimguksu 비빔국수 is buck-wheat noodle mixed with sweet-sour sauce, usually served with cucumber slices. The cucumber gives an extra of crunchiness that enhances the overall texture of the noodle.

Although it tastes good too, but still coming to Myeongdong Gyoza is not a mission-accomplished without having a portion of kalguksu or dumplings.

Every time I find myself in Korea, I always find time to go back to this place. Imagining a bowl of kalguksu 칼국수 with steamed dumplings in the cold weather right now, is making me drooling…

Need to replenish your energy with nice food before continuing shopping? Myeongdong Gyoza will be the place!

How to go there:

  • – Take subway to Myeongdong (Line 4, blue line) take exit #8. From the exit, turn left to the small street and walk straight passing by 2 intersection (you will pass by Happy Lemon drink shop on your left, lots of cosmetic shops such as Etude House, Innisfree, Espoir…)
  • – There are 2 outlets along that small street, just keep watching on your left and right. One is located opposite of the M Plaza Building and another one is further down, almost near to the end of the small street if you walk towards the direction of the big Olive Young Store.

Website: http://www.mdkj.co.kr/

Korea is famous for their BBQ meat and mostly it is one of the must-eat-food in foreigners food list when visiting Korea. Hongdae is one of spots in Seoul where there are a lot of good meat shop. Even my friend from Suwon (a city located on the outskirt of Seoul)

One of my favourite BBQ places is ‘수정옥돌 생소금구이’ or Sujeong-ogdol Saeng Sogeum-Gui / Fresh Grilled Salted Pork BBQ. The shop is located just side by side with Hongik Sutbul Galbi or ‘홍익 숯불갈비’ (another favourite BBQ place of mine). Their speciality is their chewy salted pork meat.

Another uniqueness on this place that attracts me is the meat is not grilled on the normal grilling pan. BUT ON THE STONES!

menu

The owner recommended us to try their speciality : the salted pork meat. They also have other kind of meat. Although the menu are in korean hangul, the ahjumma will offer you an english menu if you are a foreigner.

We ordered their speciality the salted pork meat or sogeom-goi / 소금구이. We also ordered pork belly meat or usually known as samgyeopsal / 삼겹살, pork skin or kkeobdeigi / 껍데기, and pork skirt meat or galmaegisal / 갈매기살.

Once we ordered, the ahjussi brought out the pan filled with stones and the raw meat. The meat cooked well in time.

Salted pork meat grilled on the stones

Salted pork meat grilled on the stones

sogeum3See how the meat are perfectly cooked on these stones. So delicious! The sogeum-gogi is very chewy and the meat just perfectly melt in your mouth. Of course, the perfect way to eat meat is to wrap it with lettuce with kimchi and the chilli paste.

My Korean friend ordered pork skin or kkeobdeigi / 껍데기. Different from Chinese charsiew style pork skin which is crunchy, kkeobdeigi is chewy and sweet. If you haven’t tried kkeobdeigi, you should try it. Watch out while grilling these fellas, because they ‘jumps‘ (you will know what I mean by jump once you try).

pig skin or kkeobdeigi

pig skin or kkeobdeigi

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This is how I use to wrap my meat 🙂

After you finish your meal, they will serve a sweet cinnamon punch drink with a herbal medicine for free. The herbal medicine will help to cleanse your digestion. And the punch drink is really good to cool down the heat after eating a lot of grilled meat.

Overall, for me the samgyeopsal at Hongik Sutbul Galbi (next shop) is better. But if I were craving for a salted grill pork meat, I will come here to have fresh and chewy sogeom-goi / 소금구이.

How to go there:

– Take subway to Hongik University Station (Green line, line 2) and take exit #8. From the exit, take the turn right. Go straight passing Coco Bruni Cafe and Black Smith.

– Once you reach the convenience store (when I wrote this, it is C&U convenience store) at the corner of the second intersection. You will see a rotary, walk across to the left side. Then keep walking straight until you see the second rotary. On the right side, on the corner of the small street, you will see this restaurant with white signage with red hangul writing ‘생소금구이’ and green door (next to Hongik Sutbul Galbi which has yellow signage).

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