22 May 2014

Seoul by findingmomo

7/11

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The chocolate croissants from Paul & Paulina in Hongdae are a must-eat. I cannot stress this enough. They bake a fresh batch every couple of hours and sell out quickly, so be prepared to wait around for a bit if you've missed the previous one.

Each pain au chocolat is a flakey, buttery, chocolatey dream. We had them with cold milk bought from the Mini-Stop nearby.

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Tosokchon is every tourist's go-to place for samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup). Much better, in my opinion, than its closest competitor, Koryeo Samgyetang at City Hall. What sets Tosokchon apart from other touristy restaurants is that it's frequented by locals as well.

Expect a line if you're there during lunch hour, especially if you're there on Chobok, Jungbok or Malbok - three sweltering days in summer specially designated on the lunar calendar for samgyetang consumption. Thankfully the premises are big so patron turnover is quick.

It goes without saying that the samgyetang served here is superb. The bird is stuffed with glutinous rice, jujubes, pine nuts and chestnuts, and its meat just peels right off the bones. I tend to go for the 오골계 삼계탕 or the black chicken samgyetang, which supposedly is more beneficial for health than your regular chicken and hence costs KRW 7,000 more. I don't care about all that really, I just think black chicken tastes better in soup.

Omg should not have googled for what a black chicken looks like. How will I ever be able to eat it again now that I know how cute it is? :( (Answer: I will anyway.)

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I have dragged my friends to Banana Tree for this: A candy floss latte and a blueberry dirt cake. The cafe is tiny and seats about 10 people in total. Two Taiwanese girls are the only other customers there, and are gushing excitedly over the candy floss latte.

Very cute, but tastes exactly as you would imagine: Weird. I never seem to learn my lesson when it comes to these things. Oh well... the pictures were worth it. Sorry friends.

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Apart from the street of Garosu-gil I haven't explored much of Sinsa-dong before, so we took a stroll through the neighborhood. This neighborhood is located in the affluent Gangnam district, where rental is significantly more expensive than the area north of the Han river. Along with neighboring Apgujeong-dong, Sinsa-dong houses many plastic surgery clinics so it's quite a common sight to see people walking around with bandaged faces. I'll never stop being entertained by that.

The afternoon was bearably sunny and the air was cool and fresh, which made our walk very pleasant.

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Would've passed Coffee LEC by without giving it a second glance but Lee mentioned she'd heard that it was award-winning.

She was right - there were numerous awards framed and hung up on the wall of the cafe, and they all said something about champion barista. And then I saw the baristas and decided that if I were judging these competitions I would give them awards based on their faces alone. #perv

I can't drink too much coffee without paying dearly for it later on (oh TMI) so I gave this one a pass seeing as how I had consumed 90% of the candy floss latte earlier. Drank a sip of Lee's brew and I thought it was pretty good. Unfortunately my palate isn't refined enough to discern between good coffee and reeeaaally good coffee. I would return for the baristas ;)

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Brought the girls to Bloom & Goute, which is halfway between a florist and a restaurant. I like how it's tucked away in a discreet corner. The brick facade is also very charming. I cheated on this entry - the first picture was taken during my previous visit in February 2013.

When I came here last February one of the waiters was Caucasian and I was mildly relieved to be able to order in English at last. Guess I was too quick to stereotype, because no matter how much I spoke to him in English he would only reply in Korean. I was confused because based on the content of his replies he clearly understood what I was saying. Maybe he was on a self-imposed English ban.

Didn't see him this time round but the service was still good. I ordered an iced chocolate, which always brings to mind the chocolate river in Willy Wonka's factory. I wonder if I could build one in my house. I'm always going off topic.

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A holiday in Korea would never be complete without a BBQ experience. If, like me, you're not a fan of the fatty samgyeopsal (pork belly) that's commonly found at most Korean eateries specializing in barbecued meat, then you might want to consider visiting the Mapo-gu district and its many galmaegi-sal (pork skirt meat) restaurants.

Of the many restaurants in the area, Mapo Jeongdaepo (마포 정대포) is the only one I've tried because it's a success every time. As Mapo Jeongdaepo relies on charcoal briquettes for cooking, the galmaegi-sal here is juicy, tender and infused with an intensely smoky flavour. The galmaegi-sal is also pre-cut into convenient bite-sized pieces so you don’t have to fumble with a pair of scissors while watching the meat burn.

I've uploaded a screencap showing the location of the restaurant (marked by a star) relative to Gongdeok station (Seoul subway lines 5, 6 and AREX). Take exit 8 and head straight, turning left when you see "Mad for Garlic" and right at the next crossing. The signboard "마포 정대포" and its picture of barbecued meat on an egg moat should be apparent to you.