Category Archives: South Korea

Samgyeopsal all-you-can in Sinchon!

If you ask me what is my favourite Korean food, my tummy and heart would agree that samgyeopsal tops the list. Maybe because it was the first Korean food I tried here, or because of the frequency of eating the Korean barbecue that I have conditioned my mind “This is the best.”

My friends and I go to the BBQ restaurant near our school until we discovered this haven in Sinchon. Seoul National University is so far from downtown Seoul, we have to travel at least an hour to reach that place. But that is always worth the time.

So here in this restaurant (which I actually don’t know if it has any name, we just call it “THE Unli BBQ place”), you enter, choose where you’ll be seating for two hours or more, then go to the bar and get any meat you want.

This is inside the “restaurant”. It is not that fancy,well-lit, foodie haven that you expect. It is small, but I think this is close enough to what we normally see in the Korean dramas, where the actors would drink Soju ’till the credits. 😀 And as the tarpaulin displays, it is 8,000 won per person (around 7 dollars, and 300 pesos).

Beef, chicken, shrimp, or pork; you’ll be the one to surrender. 

Samgyeopsal won’t be complete without these sauces. My favorite is the one on bottom left, it is called ssamjang.

This is how the pan on my table looked like tonight! YUMMY!

One secret to make the samgyeopsal food trip really enjoyable: bring as many friends as possible. Trust me, you wouldn’t enjoy it by yourself.

So here’s the gang with whom I shared tonight’s food with:

If you happen to be in Seoul and you want to experience the real food trippin’, try to go to this place. Your tummy would be satisfied without hurting your pocket.

How to go there: Subway Line 2 (Green Line) Sinchon station, go to exit number 2. Walk straight for 10 minutes until you see Adidas, and T-World, then turn left. You’ll see restaurants all-lined up. On your right, you’ll see a big barbecue place, not that one 😀 but the second one. The owners are at the entrance trying to persuade the people to come. Give in and enjoy!

P.S. We came there tonight with a reason: to celebrate our good friend Johanne’s birthday. And since we’ve been coming to the restaurant in a big group, they were kind enough to give us cola and makgeoli as service. 🙂

Spring has arrived in Korea (finally!)

Since December, I’ve been hoping that time would fly and April would arrive quickly. Yes, I really thought I would die because of winter. I was looking forward to a warmer weather, since I am a lady from a tropical country where the season is just hot, and hotter.

Now, I am so giddy because of the blooming flowers and wonderful colors. Spring has finally arrived! A must during this season- a photo with the cherry blossoms!

Last week, I’ve been monitoring if the cherry trees in Yeouido are already blooming. According to the Korea Tourism Organization website, the Spring Festival was scheduled from April 13-17. I called my bestfriend here :D, 1330, and asked for update. The lady said it is quite late this year. So we had to wait until Wednesday. After class, we headed to Yeouido Park!

To get to the place where the cherry trees are lined, called Yunjungno, we had to stop at the National Assembly station. So photo-ops first with the house of the Parliament!

Yeah, I can finally  wear a skirt, and sunglasses! It was so warm that day, the temperature reached 22 degrees celsius!

Yunjungno lies at the back of the National Assembly. So we had to walk for 10 minutes to get there. We started seeing a lot of people and then the trees with white blossoms!

Beautiful. Wala nito sa Pilipinas eh!

There was a traditional dance at the center of the road. Good thing was they actually closed the road for vehicles, so the people can actually enjoy.

One thing I noticed there was that majority of the people were actually Koreans. So eventhough they see this every year, they still look forward to seeing the cherry blossoms.

I won’t have any beach photos this summer, like what my friends are posting in Facebook. But I’ve got photos with the Spring blossoms. I will never forget this. I only saw those trees in movies, but I this year I had the chance to see them closely. I am blessed! 🙂

P.S. On our way back to the subway station, I saw this that made me miss home!

Yes, they also have “dirty ice cream”. We call this “sorbetes” in the Philippines, which roam around almost everywhere around this time of the year. It is Summer back home.

Jeonju: Where Tradition meets Modernity

I am really into an intensive Master’s program that’s why I don’t always have the luxury to go to FAR places here in Korea. Far means somewhere outside Seoul (actually I even seldom go around Seoul). But when I have the very rare opportunity, I seize it!

In between the end of Fall semester and the start of the Winter sem last December, my friends and I were able to plan a trip outside Seoul! Yay! 😀 Actually, being a hardcore planner, I managed to prepare our DIY tour. Our destination—JEONJU!

According to my really helpful Korea Travel Guide (I suggest you grab this at any tourist information center as it is REALLY helpful), Jeonju is in southwestern area. It is in Jeollabuk-do which is 3 hours away from Seoul.

The first thing we did was to buy bus tickets. We opted to go there by bus since it is cheaper (11,000 won for one way) and also the time difference with KTX is not that big. You can buy the tickets at Nambu Bus Terminal, subway line 3.

I was the one assigned to booking our accommodation and making daily itinerary. Searching through the web was not difficult, because the city website was helpful and I actually found everything in there. You can check http://tour-eng.jeonju.go.kr for more details on what to visit and where to stay.

And there, we’re all set for an adventure!

Our day started really early, as we left our dorm around 6 a.m. We arrived at the Nambu Bus terminal around 7:00 and had to wait. When you’re travelling in Korea, you need to be keen on time. They are very strict on schedule and they left on time. Our bus departed at exactly 8:00 a.m.

We arrived at Jeonju around 11am, and went straight to the Hanok Village. We chose to ride the bus, which was a wrong move because we didn’t know where to get off. So we ended up walking, then finally rode the cab. Tip: Just take the cab from the bus terminal going to your accommodation.

The first thing we did was to EAT at the famous Bibimbap restaurant, Gajok Hwegwan 가족 회관. They claim to have the best bibimbap in Korea, and that is really true. You just need to shell out around 12,000 won for a sumptuous treat.

We headed to our accommodation after lunch. The main reason why we went to Jeonju was to experience the traditional Hanok (Korean house). I personally chose a room that has an “Ondol” or floor heating system. We ended up in Buyonghyeon, in which a room for 5 costs 150,000 won per night. There was a free breakfast served as well!

Our cozy room! It has Hanji (traditional Korean paper) wallpaper, and an LCD TV! We also have our own toilet and bath!

After resting for some time, the strolling around Hanok Village begun. Most of the places to visit are around the Hanok Village, so it is not hard and costly to check the tourist sites.

Here are some of the places you should not miss in Jeonju:

1. Jeondong Cathedral – It was established to uphold the precious will of the first Korean martyr, and is counted as the most beautiful Catholic church in Korea.

2. Pungnammun Gate – This is the most prominent cultural asset of Jeonju, which used to be one the the four gates of Jeonju city.

3.  Jeonju Hyanggyo- This used to be a Confucian school that was believed to be built up in Goryo dynasty.

4. Deokjin Park – This is centered upon the Deokjin Lake, and has lotus flowers during spring. A fountain show is also set around that time.

5. Gyeonggijeon – It is a historic site in Jeonju, which was built to enshrine the royal portrait of Taejo Seonggae Lee, the king that found the Joseon dynasty.

6. Hanokmaeul- The Jeonju Hanok Village

Just being at the Hanokmaeul made our trip already worth it. The serenity of the place, the convergence of tradition and modernity and the richness of culture preserved made the visit to the province worth remembering.

Jeonju was a great escape from the noise and stress in the city.

Have I mentioned that everything was fun during the trip because I had great friends with me? A must in every travel is a jovial spirit to keep good vibes all the way!

P.S. If you are a coffee lover (like ME!:)) you will enjoy in the Hanokmaeul because there are so many coffee shops there! We were able to try two of them and the coffee served was really good! Plus, you’ll love the antiques and interiors of the shops.

 

Lovely Day in Goyang City

Few weeks ago, on a freezing cold Friday, my classmates and I joined the free tour for foreigners in Goyang City. It is 30 minutes away from Seoul, famous as the flower city of Korea. It is winter though, so we cannot see blooming flowers around. But since it is free :D, we participated in the government-arranged trip.

We were picked-up at the Korean Tourism Organization Headquarters in Eulijiro 3-ga in downtown Seoul at around 9:30. Then we headed to our first stop: Goyang Lake Park. It was really freezing cold (-8 degreeh, eh?) but some of us still joined the bicycle riding. I was so happy because it was my first time to ride the bicycle in Korea (which is actually included in my bucket list). It is a crazy idea to ride a bike in winter, but we did it!

After that we headed to the Hallyu museum. Goyang is also famous for the KPOP bands that originated from the city, and some Korean dramas that were shot there.

We had a handicraft making session. We made Hanji (traditional paper) crafts. I’ve got souvenirs that I personally made, yay! 🙂

Then they brought us to the Central and South America Culture Center. It is a museum and a restaurant in one! The owner is a former ambassador to Latin America, so after he retired he built that museum. He welcomed us all and gave an inspiring talk. He’s such a man who lived his life very well. When he asked us to introduce ourselves, he had a comment on each country where we’re from!  After the talk, they served us Paella and steak. That was the best free lunch I had here in Korea!

The tour ended with the Grease musical show. Too bad I was so sleepy that afternoon so I feel asleep during the show. Also, everything was in Korean so I cannot understand it.

The best things in life are really free. I never thought that a free trip could be this good. I had a really lovely day in Goyang!

My tummy loves South Korea!

We Filipinos love to eat. From the most simple kakanin to the complicated dishes, we spoil our tummies. Before I came here to South Korea, the only Korean food I am familiar of is Jjam-pong. I know I am such a loser but I am not really into exploring restaurants. When I already found my comfort food, I will keep eating and eating that until I don’t like it anymore.

My friends told me that Koreans love spicy food, and I said that’s not a problem because my parents are from Bicol and we always have siling labuyo on our food. I grew up loving spicy food. Another thing they said is that Koreans love vegetables. Hmmm then I will learn how to eat veggies ‘coz I don’t like it that much. Lastly is that Koreans are so health conscious that they don’t put too much salt or sugar.

I thought adjusting to food here will be difficult for me, but I was wrong! I fell in love with Korean food the first time I ate and have a taste of their cuisine. So far here’s my top 10 favorite Korean food.

10. Korean street food

This photo shows one of street food stalls in Myeongdong. They sell hotdog/sausages. My favourite here is the one wrapped with bacon. So every time I get hungry after shopping I just grab one stick. There’s actually a lot of street food here. I might need a full blog entry for this. Price: 2,000 won

9. Hotok

This is also sold at the streets. Hotok is like a pancake, or more like our famous piyaya. It is crunchy bread with cinnamon and honey inside. Price: 700 won each

8. Yang-gogi

This is not actually a traditional Korean food, and it is sold in a Chinese restaurant here. But this food is made for Korean customers. It is lamb chops in sticks. The meat is not smelly and easy to chew. It is also perfect with Chinese-style fried rice. We usually have this after exam break or an exhausting week. Price: 9,000 per set (10 sticks)

7. Samgyetang

I ate this once, during the Seoul tour arranged for us. It is young chicken stew, with ginseng. They said it is good during summer to give you more energy. The chicken is also stuffed with rice. I love this because it is like our tinola. I am not sure about the price though but it is a little expensive.

6. Kimchi-shige

Kimchi is not for me. I am trying my best to eat it, but I just can’t. Surprisingly, I love the kimchi-soup. It is a spicy stew of cabbage and other vegetables, sometimes with tofu or noodles. And this picture is a typical set of a meal, complete with different side dishes. Price: 4,500 won

5. Chim-dak

I discovered this because a friend brought me to a restaurant in the SNU subway station. I am always there but never thought they have real good food like this. It is chicken with potatoes and carrots with soy sauce and vinegar. Sounds familiar, eh? Yes, it is like our adobo. Just that it has a lot of red chillies and noodles. Price: 26,000 won (good for four)

4. Cheese Ramyeon

You can see noodles just everywhere. But this cheese ramyeon is really special. I love this really spicy noodles topped with cheese. It is just perfect for the cold weather. Price: 3,000 won

3. Korean shabu-shabu

My friends are really good in discovering sumptuous Korean food. They found a shabu-shabu restaurant that’s near our school. It is actually a mix of vegetables, noodles, mushroom and beef. After finishing it, they will fry rice. Price: 19,000 won (good for 3)

2. Kimbap

It is famous globally. Kimbap is made of rice and other ingredients like vegetables and meat (tuna or beef) and rolled with gim (dried seaweed). I think it is the cheapest of all the Korean food in my list. Price: 2,500 won

1. Samgyeopsal

My most favourite Korean food is the Korean BBQ samgyeopsal! I will never get tired of eating this! You grill swegogi (beef) or dwejigogi (pork) then you wrap it in lettuce, add some salt or chilli paste. You can also eat with rice. The best way to eat this is to be with your good friends around. Price: beef: 8,000 per person.

There are still some that I haven’t included in this list. I have yet to try other Korean food. But so far, my tummy is really enjoying here in South Korea!