weishiXjme: pig’s blood in intestines?! (Day 3)

Every day we wake up a little later, so our first stop of the day had to be for lunch because we woke up at lunchtime. Haha! (This is honestly my favourite part about exploring countries without following a tour group because you get to decide when you wanna wake up. And we felt like we could go at a slower pace simply because we were going to be there for 18 days.) It was a Saturday afternoon, so we decided to go for lunch at Hongdae 홍대 (Hongik University Station, exit 9)- this place is particularly exciting during the weekends because (1) there’s a flea market, (2) it’s basically where the youngsters hang out since it is near a university and (3) there’s a whole lot of street performances which are incredibly fun to watch- the place is apparently known to encourage freedom of self-expression?!

So J and I had planned to try some local delicacies, some not so pleasant, and the Sundae (순대; pronounced ‘soon-day’) was one of such not-so-pleasant food stuff. Sundae is basically boiled or steamed pig intestines stuffed with pig blood and Dangmyeon (i.e. Cellophane noodles). Having to try this dish is particularly challenging for the both of us because we really cannot appreciate offal food stuff. Bulk of our video is literally us trying this Sundae at a restaurant called Gongsugan. J’Me was really gung-ho about it like she just stuffed it into her mouth without hesitation. We got several other food stuff: kimbaptteokbokkikimchi fried rice (this I love) and the Eomukguk/Odeng guk (fish cake soup). I thought they were all pretty good, except the tteokbokki because I really couldn’t take the level of spiciness. My tolerance for spicy food is really not very good but I do like Kimchi. I wouldn’t particularly recommend going to Gongsugan just because I think other Korean restaurants in the area would serve the same types of food and they probably wouldn’t differ so much in taste. I personally hated the taste of Sundae, but y’all should try it for the fun of it and who knows you may actually enjoy it? (Jerald and Tianming finished the Sundae homg.)

Something you have to do when you’re in Hongdae is to SHOP. The streets are lined with a lot of shops selling mostly clothing and shoes. The flea market is only held Saturdays. Once in a while, a food store pops up and we decided to get some Takoyaki. It was reeaaally good!! (Then again, it could have been because it was cold outside so to have something warm to eat was really shiok la.) And we noticed this tiramisu shop and I really wanted to try it but the queue was horrendously long so we didn’t. Oh yes, and everyday I need my cuppa coffee, so on this day I got a cup of hazelnut latte from Holly’s Coffee. It was pretty okay, though it was basically priced as much as a Starbucks drink. Now that I’ve discovered Paik’s Coffee though, I wouldn’t recommend Holly’s. (Paik’s Coffee is this amazing coffee chain that serves pretty good coffee and is super affordable. Plus, if you order any types of coffee, you get a free upsize. HOW DOPE IS THAT.)

I didn’t buy anything from the street shops because they weren’t my style, but the international brands at Hongdae had the best sales!!! H&M was located right at the heart of Hongdae and Bershka was across the road. And it was very very festive – there were people dressed as Santa Clauses (minus the beard) singing Christmas songs. I was so looking forward to Christmas!!! I honestly didn’t expect to buy a whole lot of clothes because I thought it was a bit absurd to buy clothing from international brands that were available back home, but the sale in Korea was ridiculously good. I didn’t buy a lot of things on my first visit to that H&M – I got myself a romper for 9,000 KRW (i.e. 11 bucks), a really gorgeous black laser-cut blouse and a Christmas green halter blouse with gold detailing. They were all super cheap. The green blouse was for sale in Singapore a while back, but it was too expensive so I didn’t get it then. Alas, it was for sale at 60% off in Korea so I just had to get it. Needless to say we went back to H&M/Bershka on another day sometime after Christmas.

Palsaek 8 Flavours Pork BBQ place (팔색삼겹살) is really popular amongst tourists. Trishh brought me to the place when we went in summer. I couldn’t remember the way there, so by the time we got there, we were famished and freezing ’cause we kinda got lost. Going back to the train station after that was easier because we found a faster way – Sinchon station, exit 7, cross the road to go straight along Baekbeom-ro for about 150m then you’ll see the restaurant. It’s basically a tourist destination because everyone there was a tourist. We got the beef, stuffed squid and 8 flavours pork set. I love love love BBQ pork so i thought it tasted pretty good. We all did a short review in the video; I personally thought the Miso Paste flavoured pork was good and I didn’t enjoy the herb one either.

Watch our video for more! I promise this one is funny because J’Me keeps judging me and I apologise for the background noise, especially in the restaurant.

xoxo, Weishi

weishiXjme: eating the Korean way! (Day 2)

We head to Insadong on Day 2! So I was particularly excited because I was going to reunite with my Korean friend whom I met in a theatre class last semester!!!!! AND she was going to take us to a very ‘local’ place for dinner. Personally, while I enjoy visiting tourist sites, I find greater joy in going to places that are not commonly known by foreigners, just because I think the whole point of travelling is to really experience local culture, so I was really excited.

Before meeting Seoyoung, we decided to explore Insadong, which is supposedly a place rich in heritage and culture. To get there, take the subway to Anguk, exit at #5 and head straight, along the path for 2-3 minutes. Take a left turn when you see a GS25 convenience store and you’re at Insadong!! There’s a main road with lotsa shops and alleys lined on each side.  A couple of must-dos when you’re there: (1) Visit Ssamziegil, an outdoor shopping mall with handicraft stores, and souvenir shops. (2) Have poop bread (it’s just bread filled with red bean paste in the shape of a poop but it tastes pretty good in my opinion and it only costs 2,000 won which is like $2.50). (3) If you love sweet stuff (I really do have a sweet tooth), then you must must try the Hotteok!! Having that pancake in winter is the best, because it’s freshly made so it’s hot. I had it the previous time I was in Korea in summer too, and it was just as yummy though less shiok la!

I went to the Sinseon Seolleongtang restaurant when I previously came to Korea with Trishh, but I ordered a pretty tasteless soup dish the last time, so I wanted to give it another shot. This place is located along the main road, further down the Ssamziegil area and is pretty easy to spot. My friend Tian Ming got their signature Seolleongtang, which is basically ox-bone soup. J’Me got the Kimchi pancake and I got the Suyuk Seolleongtang. The soup dishes came with a bowl of rice, so you could just put the rice in the soup and eat it. I loved the Seolleongtang, but I’d recommend sharing the dish if you don’t have a huge appetite ’cause J’Me and I couldn’t finish our food. Then again, most restaurants in Korea aren’t very accommodating when it comes to food sharing (say you’re a party of 4 but you only ordered food for 2 servings), so please just go with people who eat a lot HAHA.

Then we headed back to our guesthouse to chill a little bit before meeting Seoyoung! I wasn’t very thrilled that we had to take the subway at 7pm because it was peak hour and it was so crowded?!? The crowd was definitely worse than in Singapore, in my opinion. Plus, the Korean culture on the subway is to basically push your way through the crowd to get to wherever you wanna go, so bottom line: Singapore really isn’t that bad. Seoyoung brought us to this really ulu alley and I initially thought it was dubious, but in this hidden alley were so many bossam (i.e. thinly-sliced boiled pork) restaurants and it was just really crowded. The food tasted AMAZING?! This has got to be my favourite meal in my entire trip because I really loved kimchi squid wrapped in pork, like I never thought squid would taste good with pork, but this combination tasted really good (feast your eyes with some yumminess in the video HAHA & my friend Seoyoung teaches us how to enjoy Bossam the Korean way). I’d totally recommend going to this alley if you’re looking for really local food and to take a break from tourist-filled places, but only if you’re travelling with someone who can speak and understand an adequate amount of Korean because they cater to the locals like 99.5% of the time so their command of other languages are limited.

We were too full for street food, but we did have a go at the Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) and they were honestly too spicy for me. And another must-do when you’re in Seoul, is to try as many coffee as you can from different coffee joints precisely because there are sooo many cafes in Seoul (better than Starbucks, I promise!) That night, we got drinks from Holly’s Coffee. The Goguma (sweet potato) latte was most unique, though I’m not a fan of sweet potato. J’Me, who loves goguma would recommend it though, so try it if you’re in the area! Holly’s Coffee is really accessible ’cause its basically everywhere.

Til more, xoxo, Weishi.