Category Archives: Food

Discovering Busan’s beaches and local eats

As our time in Seoul winds down, I find myself busier than ever! I’ve been meaning to blog about our trip to Busan for a couple weeks now. But, I’m thankful we’re still getting to explore new places and see new things, six months in.

Busan is the second largest city in South Korea, as well as a major port city. We took the KTX high-speed train down there, about a three-hour journey, and got to see just how green and mountainous this country is.

View of the Korean countryside from the train

Countryside views on our way back to Seoul

Inside the KTX high-speed train

Busan Station Continue reading Discovering Busan’s beaches and local eats

Feeling Youthful in Hongdae

My friend has been telling me about Hongdae for a while. It’s one of Seoul’s college areas, located right by Hongik University, and she’s told me all about how you can find many eateries and budget-friendly shops (aimed at broke college students). Lively nightlife, too. While I’m just now getting around to blogging about it, I actually first visited Hongdae back in January. It was freezing that day. So cold, I had to stop inside several stores to thaw off before continuing to walk around. It was a very brief jaunt.

Hongdae is supposed to be a pedestrian friendly area, but… you still have to watch out for cars and motorcycles or you’ll end up squashed on the road. During that first trip, I came across everything from cafes and bars, to body piercing shops, nightclubs, food stands, cat cafes, nail salons, clothes shops, even a Trick Eye Museum. There’s also a CGV movie theater right when you exit the Hongik University Station. Plenty of name-brand stores like H&M and New Balance, too.

Sculpture in Hongdae.

Cafes, shops & more. Continue reading Feeling Youthful in Hongdae

Tokyo Day 4: Kagurazaka, Akihabara, Kanda Myojin Shrine & sukiyaki

Luckily, we were able to meet up with an old college friend of mine during our time in Japan, as well. We met Masayuki at the Kagurazaka Station, which is located in a charming, European feeling neighborhood. Kagurazaka is an area known for its French population and its sloping street lined with many cafes, shops and French eateries. Masayuki, a Tokyo native, took us to a lovely cafe for some tea. It was a very windy day again, but the cafe staff were nice enough to bring out blankets for everyone waiting outside in the chilly conditions. (Service — one thing I noticed the Japanese are very good at.)

From there, we headed over to Akihabara, popular for its diehard anime and manga fan culture, as well as its many electronic shops. We didn’t linger long, mainly just walked around a bit and explored an arcade full of video games and near-R-rated anime figurines and prizes.

Not far from the busy entertainment area, we came across the  Kanda Myojin Shrine, a Shinto shrine with almost 1,300 years of history. Continue reading Tokyo Day 4: Kagurazaka, Akihabara, Kanda Myojin Shrine & sukiyaki

Tokyo Day 3: Shibuya/Shinjuku, okonomiyaki, Meiji Shrine & purikura photo booths

It’s fun to have friends in other countries. On our third day in Tokyo, Will’s friend Scott took the train up from Osaka to spend the day with us. Valentine’s Day, actually. 🙂 Aww.

First order of business? Find some okonomiyaki for lunch. We got off at Shibuya Station, and actually, first first, I had to pay tribute to Hachiko. You know, Hachiko, the Akita dog that would greet his owner daily at Shibuya Station when he returned from work, and continued to loyally wait there every day for nine years after his owner had died? (Sigh, so sad. Don’t watch the movie or you’ll cry your eyes out.) They have a statue of him there as soon as you exit the station via… the Hachiko exit. Then, we crossed the street — that is, the famous Shibuya crossing, one of the busiest intersections in the world! Many of you have seen it in movies, but here was our view of it:

Continue reading Tokyo Day 3: Shibuya/Shinjuku, okonomiyaki, Meiji Shrine & purikura photo booths

Eating our way through Seoul

I won’t pretend to be an expert food critic or anything, I just wanted to share some of the foods we’ve eaten during our couple of months in Seoul. Foods that I haven’t already shared with you in previous posts. Here they are, in no particular order. And don’t worry, there will be plenty more, I’m sure. 😉

Shabu-shabu (Japanese):

They bring you a bowl of broth and your meat and veggies, and you boil everything together (various greens, soybean sprouts, mushrooms and fish cakes). We also ordered some kimchi dumplings and regular dumplings on the side.

Manjoo Hana (Korean):

Cream/custard-filled little doughy things. You find them in many subway stations — they smell delicious and taste best when fresh and warm.

Continue reading Eating our way through Seoul

The dainty Garosu-gil Street

The other day my friend took me across the river into Gangnam for lunch at Garosu-gil Street in Sinsa-dong.

Not sure how to best describe Garosu-gil. It’s like a small version of Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, or like Abbot Kinney in Venice. Clean, pretty, pedestrian friendly. It spans just several blocks, but if you explore the side streets you’ll find many cute shops, cafes, dessert places, lots of eateries (pizza, Japanese food, tacos, Spanish food, you name it), nail and hair salons, skin care product shops, and more. The main street is known for the ginkgo trees that line it.

From the minute you exit the Sinsa subway station (exit 8), you start spotting plastic surgery clinics. And nicer cars. In my two short trips there, I’ve seen a Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini and a group of nice Harleys rollin’ down Garosu-gil.

My friend and I had lunch at Vatos Urban Tacos, founded by some guys out of SoCal (they have another location in Itaewon). Continue reading The dainty Garosu-gil Street

Lessons in grocery shopping in Seoul

Disclaimer: Not every post moving forward will be daily journal-type entries. I guess everything’s so new and fresh right now I’m just excited to share. Enjoy it while it lasts and while I have time for it. 😉

Day three: The food here in Seoul is delicious. That said, if we ate noodles, dumplings, pork cutlet and fried street-vendor food every day for months on end, we’d return to the states quite a bit heavier. So! While I plan to try as much of the local food as I can while we’re here, I’m hoping to be able to cook at home, too, and not go out to eat all the time.

My friend from the plane had mentioned that e-mart is a Walmart-like store found all over Seoul, with groceries and home goods at affordable prices, so I knew I wanted to check it out. I’d also read that Lotte Mart is a similar type of store, and we have one located close-by at Seoul Station. On my first day venturing out solo, I decided to drop by both stores and do some price comparisons.

Lotte Mart is enormous. Two stories of everything you could ever need. The second floor includes Lotte Hi-mart, their electronics and appliances section. I walked and walked and browsed, noticed they had what looked like a discounted section (think dollar-store kind of items), and concluded they have very reasonable prices overall, including for groceries. They also carry many common American brand-name products, albeit those are slightly pricier than back home.

Lotte Mart

Lotte Mart aisles Continue reading Lessons in grocery shopping in Seoul