Maikatsu

Its not often I got to Hongdae, its far too cool for the likes of me and a bit of a trek. However several times a year I will find the inner  strength to make a pilgrimage to check out whats going on on in the neighbourhood of the young and the restless. As it so happened I had an important meeting a couple of stops away, so headed over to Hongdae after for a spot of dinner. I hadn’t really much idea of where I would go to eat, so I consulted my trusty list of places to try, and came across Maikatsu which had been recommended to me by a reader earlier on in the year. As I was hungry in Hongdae I figured i should give it a try.

The restaurant itself is small and functional with seating for about 12 and a large kitchen window counter at the back. When we saw the menu we were blown away by the amazing prices. This style of Japanese fast food is always pretty cheap, but this was crazy low, clearly it needs to be in student area Hongdae. But as someone who always has trouble living within her means, this price point was a breath of fresh air.

We wanted to try the muster of their pork cutlet which I had heard great things about. As I planned on trying a couple of things I ordered the single Maikatsu (3,500), but there is a double version for 6,000. The cutlet is made using a traditional recipe and using pork that has been aged for at least 48 hours before being coated in bread crumbs and deep fried. I was very impressed with how tasty it was. It was served with rice, soup, shredded cabbage, pickled radish, sesame seeds in a pestle and mortar and of course the pork cutlet sauce. Honestly this was incredible for the price, even those hideous GS microwave boxes (that I often buy drunk) cost more than this, and are about a third of the quality.

My companion was in the mood to try their Mai Katsu Sando (3,500) which is a modern take on the tonkatso and served as a sandwich. The pork cutlet was sliced and served between white slices of bread with a touch of mustard sauce. I had a bite and it was quite tasty, personally I would rather have it with rice for the same price, but it made a very god snack. He also ordered the Mai Hayashi Rice (5,500). This dish is a beef stew made with slow cooked vegetables in a demi-glace, red wine, and tomato sauce. We both loved this, the sauce had a real intense flavour, with a good kick at the end without being too spicy. I think it was all eaten in a bout two minutes flat, I would come back for this alone!

It being an insanely cold and and wet snowy day I was dying to try a bowl of Tonkotsu (5,500). This is a noodle dish that I absolutely adore so was excited to give it a try. Unfortunately this was not as good as I had hoped, egg wasn’t in the Japanese style with the runny yolk, the broth was not particularly meaty, and the char siu pork didnt much flavour either. While it wasn’t inedible by any means, I pretty much finished the bowl, it just lacked the intense flavours that I associate with his dish. I think i’ll stick with Menya Sendaime for Tonkotsu from now on.

Overall I thought this a great restaurant for the money, I’d certainly come back for the curry and pork cutlet and I’d like to try a few other menu items. We also loved their mini beers which are 1,500 for 220mls. This was the perfect amount for me to enjoy without dinner without having to drink a whole pint.  If you are in the neighbourhood and looking for something cheap to eat it will hit the spot. We also noticed several other really cheap restaurants nearby so I think it’s a good area for those on a budget.

Maikatsu is located at 344-9 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Hongdae Station (line 2) and come out of exit 9. Walk straight out of the exit and take the second right. Walk all the way along that main road until you get to the end and make a left following the road around. You will walk straight for a little bit then take the next left again. You will see Maikatsu ahead on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 010-4803-3411.

Christmas Dinner Guide 2017

Thanksgiving is yesterdays news, and there are only a few more weeks until Christmas!!!!. Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year, I just adore getting gussied up, filling my belly with seasonal treats and drinking far too many champagne cocktails. Once January comes around Seoul gets insanely cold and personally I try to leave the house as little as possible, so now is the time to do as much celebrating and eating out as possible. Choosing the correct place to spend your special day is of the utmost importance, especially if you are visiting from out of town. Luckily I’ve put together a list of some of the best options of where to eat this holiday season.This list is in no means complete so stay tuned because I will be adding more events as the days roll by, but this should be enough to get you started.

La Marmite – HBC’s very own French bistro will be offering a four day special set menu for the festive period from December 22nd-25th. The six course menu includes a bisque, scallops, homemade ravioli, stout braised beef, cheese plate with homemade bread, and chocolate fondant with tarragon ice cream. The dinner costs 75,000 per person, with an optional wine pairing for an extra 25,000. Reservations are recommended and can be made via the event facebook page.

Urban Farm TableUFT reopened this year in a new location and I for one am thrilled as i loved the old restaurant a lot and was sad when the farm to table eatery closed. They are are putting on an 8 course menu for a lucky few (the place is very small so can only host 8) on December 23rd & 24th. The menu which includes scallops, pork and locally made cheese will be 100,000 per person, or 150,000 if you want a 5 course wine pairing. Having had Chef Roydon’s food before, I am sure you are in for a treat, and this is a real foodie’s type of event. For more details you can visit their facebook page.


Braai Republic – The South African pub will be doing their traditional South African Christmas lunch on December 25th. The 3 course set menu menu includes, a steaming glass of Glühwein, cream of mushroom soup, leg of lamb, bobotie sausage, mashed potato & gravy and mixed veggies, and malva pudding and ice cream for dessert.  Tickets cost 45,000 per person (which will include a W5,000 tip for the hard-working staff at Braai Republic). Lunch will start at 1PM with only one sitting. Regular menu items will be available after 5PM. To reserve a seat, email them at braairepublicseoul@gmail.com.

 

 

WinK – The Kyodae kitchen and taphouse is celebrating the holiday season by knocking up a feast of seasonal delights. They are offering dinner on December 23rd, 24th, and 25th and will have two seatings on each day. The dinner Includes a glass of wine or beer, oven roasted turkey, turkey gravy, red wine cranberry sauce, roasted garlic mashed potato, ham quiche with mushroom, sauteed vegetables and vanilla creme brulee for dessert. There are also optional all you can drink specials for those who really want to let their hair down. To reserve your seat you can contact them on 02-6053-3249 or via their facebook page

Route 66 – This year will be the 4th Annual Route 66 Christmas Eve Buffet on Sunday, December 24th. The lunch begins at 3 pm, and includes turkey, ham, gravy, sweet potato casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, veggies, rolls, buffalo chicken dip, apple and pumpkin pie, and vanilla ice cream. Tickets are 40,000 and come with a drink. There is limited availability so swing buy the bar or visit their facebook page to reserve your spot.

Bull and Barrel – On December 24th & 25th, Bull and Barrel will host their 6th Annual Christmas dinner buffet. Their traditional dinner will include roast turkey, chestnut stuffing with turkey gravy, cod au gratin, roast ham, roast potatoes, green beans and seasonal vegetables, cranberry sauce, and cheesecake with berry coulis for dessert. As usual you also get a complimentary alcoholic beverage. Tickets are 40,000 per guest with cash payment or bank transfer. Text 010-9982-2423 to make your reservation today, or visit their facebook event page.

El Pino 323 – For those who come from warmer and spicier climates, you might feel more comfortable scarfing down a festive Mexican Feast. El Pino is offering all you can eat tacos for two hours on December 23rd & 24th for a mere 35,000 per person. There are a whole host of tacos to choose from, and even a few extra dishes. I was very tempted by this one myself, though I’d hate to bankrupt them with the sheer amount of tacos I would be capable of eating. Reservations and prepayment must be made in advance, see their facebook event page for details.

Vatos – Christmas is a time for drinking and eating, but it is also a time for eating. Thankfully you can do all three at Vatos’s pay it Forward party on saturday December 23rd. The menu hasn’t been published yet, but ‘ve yet tio eat a bad meal there yet. The tickets cost 40,000 per person and the proceeds will go to Jerusulam Children’s Ministry. You can stuff your face, get your drink on with some of their awesome cocktails and give yourself a big pat on the back for giving back to the local community. Its win, win, win! See the facebook event page for details on how to book.

Four Seasons – December 1st-31st  – Nothing says Christmas like a fully cooked turkey dinner, and if you live life without an oven  the Four Seasons Hotel has you covered. Throughout the month of December they will be providing fully cooked turkey dinners packaged and ready to go. So if you are having friends over or just eat the whole thing yourself (no judgement here) you can pre-order one through their website. If you would rather eat inside the hotel they are holding a seasonal brunch at the Market Kitchen on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and NYE , and an all you can drink Champagne one at Boccalino (125,000). See their holiday events calendar for more details.

Expat Fair & Seoul – Free Seoul to LA Return Flights Giveaway!

Exciting news, Korea’s is having its very first fair just for expats! I have been an expat here for the past 9 years, and I am so thrilled to know that companies are finally beginning to notice that we are valuable customers and an important part of the business market here in Korea. The Expat Fair Korea 2017, is being held on December 9th &10th at Coex Exhibition Center in Hall C. As part of this exciting event they are giving away free flights to LA and back from Seoul & free flights to Singapore and back. So if you ever dreamed of making it big in Hollywood or are dying to get away from this god awful cold and chilly weather, this could be your lucky day! So how do you win one of these free flights and a whole host of other prizes worth over $3,000 including flights, musical tickets, a luxury dinner? Well there actually two different contests happening, each via a different social media with different instructions.

To WIN A ROUND-TRIP, PREMIUM ECONOMY FLIGHT FROM SEOUL TO LA! You need  head over to Facebook and ‘Likethis post, and the @expatfairkorea Facebook page, then Pre-register for FREE for the Expat Fair Korea at Coex this weekend, December 9th and 10th, and finally leave them a comment under the post letting them know that you’ve completed steps 1 & 2!  The pre-registration closes Thursday December 7th at midday, so get on it ASAP.  The winners will be announced at the Expat Fair Korea’s ‘expat stage’ at 11.30am on Sunday, so be sure to be there if you want to win! Only those present at the announcement will be eligible to win the prize!

To WIN A ROUND-TRIP, PREMIUM ECONOMY FLIGHT FROM SEOUL TO Singapore, you need to head over to Instagram. All you need to do is follow the steps below and glory and an amazing prize can be yours.

  1. Follow me‘ on Instagram, and ‘Like’ this contest post here on my instagram account. Then read the instructions on my post  and click through to the next blogger Gina’s Bear Blog on the link. Find the identical giveaway post on their feed and follow the same steps, until you have ‘liked’ all posts in the loop (spoiler alert: there are 8).
  2. Head over to @expatfair_korea’s Instagram, follow, and leave a comment under the giveaway post there letting them know that you’ve completed all steps.
  3. Sign up for FREE entry to the Expat Fair Korea this Saturday December 9th and Sunday December 10th at Coex, Seoul, to increase your chances of winning! Visitor registration at expatfair.kr
  4. You’re done! Contest ends Wednesday December 6th at 9pm KST. Good luck!!!

So what can one expect to find at the expat fair? The fair will include a range of businesses and services tailored specifically for foreigners living in Seoul, including a medical tourism zone. Let’s face it plastic surgery is big business here in Korea and if you have always been curious about how much a nose job or touch of botox costs, but always worried about how to go about it, then this is your chance to find out from expats who have actually had surgery here themselves.

It being December and all, there will also be a Christmas Zone! Who doesn’t love getting in the festive mood with some seasonal merriment! There will also be International Village with giveaways and freebies from international embassies and food companies in Korea. If you aren’t familiar with your local embassy, now is the time to get acquainted. Most of the embassies I know regularly host amazing events and mixers, and the British embassy even has a pub which opens on Fridays! So if you want to find out what your local embassy can do for you, this is your chance. There will also be booths from local foreigner-led groups like SIWA, etc, allowing you to join expat communities here in Seoul and find out about running a business in Korea.

There will also be lost of Fashion brands offering clothes and shoes in foreign sizes. I think we have all be turned away from stores before by assistants saying no big size, or tried to squeeze our feet into shoes 3 sizes too small like Cinderella’s ugly sisters, or maybe that’s just me. Lastly there will be a whole host of tour companies offering discounts at vacation destinations across Korea, and lots of information in English and other languages about travel organizations that offer information about travel in Korea, travel tips and must-know information for vacationing locally.

If you like to drink and party as much as I do, then you may be happy to hear that the festival coincides with the beer festival which you are able to gain free entry to with your ticket. And if that wasn’t enough you can also free entry to Club Octagon on Saturday night to anyone wearing their expat fair bracelet that night for an after party. So if you have ever wanted to give the night club a try, here’s your excuse.

Entrance is FREE for pre-registered visitors and 10,000 KRW on the door. To register, please visit the Expat Fair website. The  Expat Fair Korea 2017, is being held on December 9th & 10th at Coex Exibition center in Hall D. For more information you can visit the expat fair website or facebook page. COEX is located at 513 Yeongdong-daero, Samseong 1(il)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seul. To get there train to Samseong Station (line 2) and come out of exit 6. Walk straight and follow the directions into exhibition hall C.

Bills – Gwanghwamun

I have been a fan of Bill’s restaurant ever since I lived above one many years ago in Sydney. I have been meaning to try the Gwanghwamun location ever since it opened but life just got in the way. I finally got around to it last weekend, and after having a fabulous brunch I honestly don’t know what took me so long. There are currently two Bills in Seoul, one in Jamsil in the Lotte Tower, and this one in the D Tower in Gwanghwamun. They are open from 9am and offer breakfast until 11am, then they move on to a brunch/lunch menu until close. Not being an early riser we arrived around 12:30, and were lucky enough to walk straight in and grab a table, though not long after at 1pm there was a huge queue so choose your time wisely as they don’t take reservations until dinner.

As I am often fond of saying, it doesn’t really count as brunch if you can’t have a cocktail and this is one area that Bill’s really doesn’t let you down. I recall from my visit to the other branch in Jamsil that I really loved the flavour of their Bloody Marys (15,000), but that they were exceedingly small. So small I in fact thought my waitress had chugged half my drink on the way over. However they have been changed and are now much larger and warrant their price tag. The tomato juice base was really good, not the slightest bit sweet so I suspect it was made in house or imported.There was also plenty of horseradish, which I believe is the secret to a good Bloody Mary. I also loved the salt rim, and the sticks of celery and cucumber. I found it perfect for my tastes but if you mike it extra spicy you should let them know.

While the majority of the brunchy dishes are served in the morning time, they still offer some of the most popular dishes later in the day. One of which being the Full Aussie (22,000), which consists of free-range scrambled eggs, organic sourdough toast, miso mushrooms, bacon and cumin roast tomatoes. This was a pretty impressive breakfast, the star being the best scrambled eggs I have ever had in my life. They were just so light, and tasty. So many places overcook them, but these were a testament to how good the dish can be when done right. Also on the plate were two slices of their house-made bacon, this was more like slices of pork than bacon in the way it was served, so if you’re looking for a traditional style you wont find it. Personally I didn’t mind  it, and I’m sure Korean palates would also prefer this thicker style. Their sausages were a bit smaller than one would usually expect at breakfast, but while they were small in stature, they were quite well seasoned and tasted as a breakfast sausage should. I also loved the miso soaked mushrooms, they just popped with flavour. With lovely sourdough toast and oven roasted tomatoes it was the closest thing to a gourmet English style breakfast that I have found in Korea and I would definitely order it again.

I lived on steak sandwiches when I was in Australia and it was almost always my brunch of choice. So for nostalgia’s sake alone I had to give it a try. The Steak Sandwich (19,000) was  open in style with a slice of sourdough topped with grilled oyster mushrooms, steak, onion rings, tarragon dressing and watercress. We asked for the steak medium rare, which they obliged us with. There wasn’t a huge amount of steak, but what there was very juicy and tender. The bread was slathered with plenty of the thick mayo like tarragon dressing, and topped with mushrooms and the peppery watercress. It was a real classic combo of flavours and with the lightly battered onion rings on the top it was like a fancy sandwich version of a 90s pub steak night. The sandwich didn’t come with chips, so we got a side of Herbed Fries (6,000), which we had with the most delicious lemon aioli. It was so so good, I almost dipped in my finger to eat the left over bit.

You’d have thought we would have had enough food for two people, but my bestie was feeling mighty ropey and wanted to indulge himself, and who was I to argue. So we also ordered the Corn Fritters (19,800), which came with roast tomato, watercress, bacon and avocado salsa. I have to confess I love sweetcorn, I know it is often used in strange ways in Korea, but I am more than happy to eat it on most things. So when these arrived I was pleased as punch. The fritters themselves were much lighter than i had imagined and not at all greasy in the way some fried foods can be.The avocado salsa was lovely and tangy, and paired well with house-made bacon. If you don’t like overly breakfasty type brunch dishes this would be a good call, though I think it would be even better with a poached egg or two on top.

Overall I really enjoyed my brunch at Bill’s. It is not cheap by any means, but few places are these days, and the good ones tend to be around the 15,000 won mark for a dish, so this is only a bit more. They have a really nice and well thought out Australian menu, plus an excellent range of  cocktails and drinks. The setting is lovely and to me it makes it worth the extra money for a special treat now and again.

Bills is located at 4F D Tower, 17 Jong-ro 3gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Gwanghwamun station and come out of exit 3. Turn right out of the exit and you should see D Tower just up ahead. Enter using the doors on the right hand side of the building then take the escalator up to the second floor then turn left, you will see Paulie’s ahead of you. For more information including their full menu, you can call them on 02 2251 8404, or visit their website. They are open on weekdays from 9am -11pm, and 8am-10pm on weekends.

Staycation – The Grand Hyatt

Last weekend was my 9 year anniversary with TFB, I cant believe it has been so long, I’d get less time for murder (just kidding). It being such a special occasion and all, we thought a stay at a luxury hotel would be the perfect way to celebrate. TFB had been lucky enough to win the grand prize at a recent chamber of commerce event. Included in the prize package were two very nice bottles of wine, a Jo Malone shower gel, and a night in the grand executive suite at the Grand Hyatt. This was his first time going to such an event and the cheeky beggar managed to take home the first prize. I have been to at least a dozen of these things, and the only thing I have ever won is a hairbrush, but as I reaped the benefits of his win I shall not complain. So despite the hotel being literally 200 meters from our house, we set off up the hill to enjoy our romantic getaway.

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Our room was a grand executive suite. I have stayed in a couple of suites over the years and I have to say it is so nice to have the extra space, in fact this one was bigger than our whole apartment. The room had a guest toilet, a guest toilet, you know for all those guests I planned on having over (lol). We also had a work space, living room, bedroom, walk in closet and gigantic bathroom with a sunken bathtub and walk in shower. It was pretty damn fancy. Although the decor wasn’t modern or cool, it was classic enough to not look too dated. One of the nicest things about the room were the views of the city. They had thankfully assigned us a room on the river side, as I can look at Namsan Tower any old day.

I think the thing we all want to know about is the food, and our room included Club Lounge benefits, which is where we enjoyed most of our perks. The Club Lounge is a service that many big chain hotels offer, and we have taken advantage of many times over the years. For a slightly higher room price you usually get a cool little executive lounge that you can sit in in, access to a business room, and free snacks and refreshments all day. After we had checked in and seen the room we popped down to the lounge to see what was on offer. There were some very nice tea & coffee making facilities (nicer than the room ones), soft drinks, cookies and a selection of cakes and what not. They also had these really nice pastry cream filled donuts too, which I wish I had eaten more of.

Between 6pm-8pm is where you really reap the rewards because they offer happy hour. In many of the hotels we have stayed in they offer this kind of service. You usually get spirits, wine and appetisers, more recently this includes hot food too. The Grand Hyatt puts on quite a spread, and it is one of the largest club lounges I have been seen. Booze wise there is Cava, a selection of white wines, and a selection of red wines. I cant say any of the wines I tried were that great, the Cava was probably the best but as it was free I can’t really complain. As with most bars there were ice and lemons, mixers and several spirits (gin, vodka, white rum, campari and bourbon). Nothing fancy but enough to make a simple drink. I wouldn’t go as far as calling them cocktails, but a free drink is a free drink. There was also a selection of international bottled beers, if you had seen what they were charging in the mini bars for these you would be astonished. I know mini bars are supposed to be expensive but at 20,000 for a little Absolut and 9,000 won for a bottle of local water they are kind of taking the piss. Thankfully there was an ample sock of free ones for us in the lounge.

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Food wise I was very impressed, there was a hearty salad station with a do it yourself caesar salad bar, plus an Italian pasta salad and other grilled veggie medley. There were also olives, breadsticks, dips and hummus which was a nice reminder of home. Then there was nice bread, smoked salmon, meats, and cheeses. Plus a hot appetiser buffet with some awesome samosas, chicken teriyaki, and even Korean dishes like ddeokbokki and kimbab. There was also a dessert selection with more donuts, cheesecake, tarts and fresh fruit. It was very bountiful and you could happily eat and drink here instead of going out for dinner, it was just like a free all you can eat and drink buffet. The food and booze was all taken away at 8pm but as a club lounge aficionado I stocked up ahead of that time so were able to relax over our remaining drinks and snacks.

The next morning we were also permitted to have breakfast in the club lounge. When I have stayed in club lounges at other hotels you are usually given the choice between eating breakfast in the club lounge or down in the main buffet. I generally opt for the buffet, despite the fact the club lounge being much quieter as I prefer the larger variety of foods you get at the main buffet. However this is not the case at the Hyatt and you can only eat breakfast in the club lounge unless you wish to pay. That being said the lounge breakfast was pretty good. There was more or less everything you would expect to see at a hotel buffet, just smaller selections. There were tea and coffee machines that are free for use throughout your stay, fresh juices, like the carrot apple and ginger one I enjoyed. There are also 4-5 different types of milk all labelled in different jars including non dairy. There was cereal, cold cuts, salad, bread, yoghurt, fresh fruit, danish pastries in the cold buffet. While the hot buffet had sausages, bacon, eggs to order, fried potatoes, noodles and congee. There was plenty to suit everyone and more than enough to feed a greedy sod like myself. I think I had about four rounds.

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After breakfast we relaxed in the room until check out at 12. But had we wished we could have used the gym, sauna and swimming pool. Overall we had a lovely stay, it was such a treat and nice to spend a relaxing weekend away, even if it was only 10 minutes from home. We didn’t pay for our stay as we won it as a prize in a raffle, but I looked up the prices online and the club rooms start at 300,000 KRW per night, and the Executive Suite that we stayed in is 370,000 per night, though this may vary. If you would like more information about the Grand Hyatt, please visit their website.

The Grand Hyatt is located 322 Sowol-ro, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there you can walk from Noksapyeong station (line 6), but it is up quite a steep hill so if you have baggage I would advise taking a taxi. For more information you can call them on 02-797-1234, or check their website.

300 Degree

The Itaewon area has no shortage of places selling pizza, however that doesn’t mean that a new one isn’t a welcome addition. 300 Degree has recently moved from its home in Kyodae to a new location in Itaewon opposite the Foreign Food market. Now a new pizza place wouldn’t really count as news, if not for the fact they serve it up Italian style in 1 meter pizzas. That’s right, 1 meter of pizza, it was music to my ears. Now I have to confess that I have known about this pizza phenomenon for some time now, but sheer laziness prevented me from trudging across town to try it, but when I heard they had moved to my hood, it moved straight to the top of my foodie list.

 

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The new place is on the second floor of the same building as Sin Bin. They were newly opened when I paid a visit, so still finishing the decor. Local artist Aaron Cossrow is designing a mural to fill one of the walls, and I have no doubt it will look incredible when it is done. Now I realise that not everyone is like me, and that when they hear that a restaurant offers a meter of pizza they immediately want to find out if they can devour it in one sitting but that is just how I roll. As you probably know, I have taken part in quite a few eating challenges and competitions over the year and the owner at 300 Degree actually reached out to me about doing a video on the 1 meter pizza.. So I packed up my camera and decided to head over and take on the 1 meter pizza challenge. The restaurant doesn’t actually offer this as a challenge, there is nothing to gain from actually eating the whole pizza yourself other than a sense of pride, but that was more than enough for me.

The pizzas come in two sizes, 50cm (which start at 20,000), and 1 meter (which starts at 44,000). My one meter pizza had three toppings the Bufala which is tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, tomato, and basil. The Norcina which is cream sauce, mozzarella, truffle sauce, walnuts, porcini mushroom. And lastly the Siciliana, which is aubergine, black olive, mozzarella, and fresh feta. Both the Bufala and Norcina count as speciality toppings making my pizza 54,000. When I saw the pizza in front of me I was kind of shocked at how big it was, it is basically like three pizzas stuck together. Which each section containing eight slices, it made twenty four in all, and I seriously started to doubt if I would be able to finish it.

Although this was a challenge, there was no time factor so I got to enjoy the pizza in my own time. If asked to choose between American and Italian pizza, I will choose Italian pizza every time. I’m a thin crust girl and this crust was light and chewy.  My hands down favourite of the three flavours I tried was the Norcina. I always adore a truffles and mushrooms combo, and even more so when cheese is involved. I think I would have been very happy to have a whole pizza made out of this it was so good.  I love a cream sauce pizza so it went down easy, they were eight very easy slices to manage.

While I couldn’t get enough of the cream sauce topping, it in no way diminishes the deliciousness of the tomato sauce pizzas. The Buffala was the perfect marriage of mozzarella, tomato and basil, and everything a good pizza should be. While the Siciliana offered a differing mix of flavours again. I loved having the variety of the different slices, and it definitely made it a lot easier to tackle.  However by about halfway I was absolutely stuffed to the gills, and in serious doubt as to whether I could finish it. Thankfully my competitive and greedy nature prevailed and I finished the whole thing in just over 28 minutes.

Overall I really enjoyed the pizza (the first half anyhow)  and honestly thought the price of the pizza to be very reasonable. In the luxury pizza market, and lets face it anyone charging over 30,000 for a large is in the high end bracket. 44,000 for the standard is not bad at all. 3-4 people could very comfortably eat this, and be satisfied, plus the fact that you get to eat three different toppings makes it ideal to share. If you are sharing between two people, I think you would be best to go for the 50cm pizza, or expect to take a hell of a lot home. If you like Italian style pizza this place is not to be missed.

300 Degree is located at 132-4 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (line 6) and come out of exit 3. Walk straight until you reach the intersection and turn right. Walk straight along this road slightly uphill. You will see 300 Degree just ahead on the right hand side on the floor below Sin Bin, across from the foreign food mart. For more information you can call them on 02-792-9344 or check out their facebook page. The pizza is also available for delivery via Shuttle. If you have yet to use the service, you can get free delivery on your first order by clicking here.

 

Thanksgiving Guide 2017

Woo hoo,  the holidays are upon us and that means turkey, lashings and lashings of turkey. Now being British we don’t usually celebrate Thanksgiving, but I’m on board with any holiday that revolves around food, so Thanksgiving is always an event worth celebrating in my book. Now its usually around this time of year that we miss our loved ones back home the most, them and the copious amounts of sumptuous seasonal food that we get to enjoy. And although you might be missing out on your mums cooking, you can still get a darn good turkey dinner at a number of Seoul’s restaurants.

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Dominic – For a classy yet affordable Thanksgiving feast, look no further than sleek and cool Dominic. This year’s menu includes deep fried turkey, port citrus cranberry sauce, dough bread apple bacon stuffing, Dominic’s amazing cream spinach on brioche, corn pomegranate slaw with caramelised onion mashed potato, and bourbon apple pie with hot chocolate sauce. All of this is available for 60,000 won per person on Wednesday 22nd at 7pm, Thursday 23rd at 6:30 and 8:30, or on Sunday 26th at 2pm, 5pm or 7pm. To reserve a space please call the restaurant at 02-790-7588 or check out their facebook page

Leo’s – The bar above The Concorde in HBC is offering a Thanksgiving meal this year. The feast will comprise of juicy turkey, succulent ham, buttery mashed potatoes, bacony stuffing, savoury gravy, fresh seasonal veg, freshly baked bread and served with a glass of Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon and in-house made pumpkin pie. The dinner is available on Thursday the 23rd and Friday the 24th, 7 pm to 10 pm, and is 35,000 won per person.  See the facebook page or call 010-7490-7311 for more details or to make a reservation.

Southside Parlor – For those who want to add a little bit of southern flair and some finger lickin’ goodness to their TG celebrations head on down to one of my favourite cocktail bars. The Texans will be serving Creole spiced turkey, sage cornbread stuffing, cranberry hibiscus relish, smoked gravy, cornmeal fried okra, garlic mashed potatoes, chorizo Mac & Cheese, broccoli cheddar casserole, charred corn salad, berry cobbler and a seasonal cocktail of your choice for 45,000 per person . There are two seating available 6-8pm or 8:30-10:30pm on both Thanksgiving Thursday (Nov. 23rd) and Sunday (Nov. 26th), Seats must be reserved  in advance via their facebook event page.

WinK –  From Thursday November 24th- Sunday November 27th you can get a thanksgiving dinner plate with a beer or mulled cocktail for 32,000. The plate will include turkey, sausage and apple stuffing, roast garlic mashed potatoes, home style gravy, asparagus casserole, 5 Mac & Cheese, red wine cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. There will be two seatings for each night one at 6pm and one at 8pm. And for those of you who really want to celebrate they have an all you can drink option for an extra 10,000-20,000. Reservations are recommended, you can make them through their facebook event page.

Route 66 – Route 66 will be celebrating with their 4th Thanksgiving dinner. The 40,000 dinner includes a drink,  turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, 66’s sweet potato casserole, corn bread, veggies, pumpkin and apple pie w/vanilla ice cream. See their facebook event page for more details or to buy a ticket.

Cali Kitchen will be hosting its third annual Thanksgiving dinner. The menu hasn’t been completely confirmed yet but will include a welcome drink, Peruvian Sous Vide Turkey  , and Wagyu Pastrami and of course plenty of sides. If you have tried the Cali Kitchen Pastrami before, you will know that it is not to be missed. There will be two seatings on Friday, November 24th at 6:15pm, and 8:30pm. Tickets cost 50,000 per person. See their event page for more details or to make a reservation.

Bull and Barrel – On Thursday November 23rd, Friday November 24th & Sunday November 26th Bull & Barrel will be serving up their annual all you can eat buffet. You can stuff yourself ’til you pop for 40,000 per person. The buffet includes an alcoholic beverage, turkey, ham, sage and onion stuffing, mashed & roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables, gravy, mac & cheese and pumpkin pie! There are two seating on Thursday 24th of November one at 6:30 & 8:30 pm, one on Friday at 6:30pm and three on Sunday the 27th of November at 4pm, 6pm, and 8pm. You can reserve your table via text message on 010-9982-2423 or by messaging them via their facebook event page.

Plant – This year Plant is offering a Vegan Thanksgiving, for those who eat a meat free diet. The dinner includes Plant’s housemade Tofurkey, Mashed potatoes, Homestyle gravy, Grilled stuffing loaf, Pumpkin squash soup, Walnut cranberry bread, Sautéed greens, Kohlrabi apple slaw, Cranberry sauce, you choice of Pumpkin pie or Apple crumble and a glass of wine or craft beer. There are two seatings on Thursday November 243rd, tickets cost 29,000won, and reservations are recommended, call 02-749-1981 or check out their facebook page to make one. 

Vatos Urban Collective – For those not remotely interested in Turkey then Drinksgiving at Vatos could be just the event you are looking for. The cocktail and live music event  will be held on Friday November 24th from 7pm-10pm. Tickets include four drinks coupons and entry to the concert. Tickets cost 33,000, see their facebook event page for more details.

The Four Seasons – For those who want to keep it classy on such a fine occasion The Four Seasons Hotel will have Turkey Dinner To Go packages available from the 19th of November – 31st of December for those who want to dine at home without the work. Their package which costs 250,000 includes 5-6kg roasted turkey, Grilled Four Seasons Pork Sausage Roll, Butter-Sauteed Green Beans, Grilled Corn, Roasted Pumpkin, Carrots with Orange Sauce, Cranberry Sauce, Giblet Gravy (Red Wine Sauce), Apple Cinnamon Tart with Vanilla Sauce and Whipped Cream. Turkeys need to be ordered at least three days in advance, you can order one by calling +82 2 6388 5530. The JW Marriott Dongdaemun also has a similar offer. See their website for details. 

 

NY Burger & Bagel – Brunch

Brunch is my favourite meal of the week, there are few things that I enjoy more than catching up with friends on the weekend over a leisurely meal. However finding new and delicious spots for brunch where you don’t have to queue up outside for about 1000 hours in this city is no easy task. And to make matters worse, over the past year lots of my favourite brunch spots have closed. So when NY B&B got in touch with me to share that they are now serving brunch and invited me to come try it I of course couldn’t resist (and if you have tried their burgers before, then you wouldn’t either).  Since NY B&B focuses on American food, I thought I’d take a couple of ‘Mericans with me to get their take on it. The brunch is currently only available at the new Hannam branch, which has been open for almost six months. The restaurant is much bigger than the original in Gangnam, and is light and airy thanks to its floor to ceiling windows, making it perfect for brunch.

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I’m not usually one to start my day with something sweet, but the pancakes are the real star of the menu here so we were eager to try them. The batter is freshly made in small batches and only keeps for 2 hours at a time. In fact if you plan on coming with a large group or on a weekday morning it’s best to call ahead and make a reservation to make sure they have enough batter on hand. I always like to start with the most basic version of something before moving on to the more experimental version so we kicked off with the Butter Milk Pancakes (8,500). While I like pancakes well enough, they aren’t a food I lust after, or go out to eat often enough. Maybe I’ve just eaten too many bad ones and find them easy enough to make at home. However these surpassed all my expectations, they were light as air, and as fluffy as a cloud. Topped with real maple syrup, berries and whipped cream we finished every bite. Hands down the best pancakes I’ve had in Korea and much better than Original Pancake House in my opinion. We then moved on to the Red Velvet Pancakes (10,500), which were bright red and covered a sweet cream cheese frosting. I was really excited about these, but found they hadn’t quite managed to recreate the texture or the flavour of red velvet cake. I was hoping for more of that sour chocolatey taste. we really liked the cream cheese drizzle though. The last pancakes we tried were the Chocolate Chip Pancakes (10,500), which were just as good as the buttermilk ones with the addition of chocolate chips. I haven’t actually had chocolate chip pancakes before but was informed by my companions they are an American staple. The other sweet item on the menu is the Almond Crusted French Toast (11,500). The bread used is very thick and crusted with nuts, which makes it very filling. When topped with the bananas, maple syrup and cream is is absolutely delicious.

After trying our sweet dishes, we moved on to the savoury. First to try was the Little Man Breakfast (14,500), which considered of bacon, 2 eggs, home fries, and toast. The home fries on this were epic. It is hard to describe how orgasmic they really were but I shall try. They were crispy on the outside, soft in the middle, and very well seasoned so they had their own kind of yummy flavour going on. All three of us were fighting over them, In fact I’d never stop eating them given the chance and they are worth going back for alone. As for the rest of the platter, the bacon was crisp, and the toast was thick and served with butter. A simple American breakfast if ever there was one. For really big eaters they do an extra large version of this called the Big Boy which comes with steak.

Lastly we finished with the Omelette Platter (17,500) which turned out to be our unanimous favourite. The 3 egg omelette was stuffed with mushrooms and mozzarella and was topped with bacon. The omelette itself was light and fluffy without being monstrous in size or over cooked like most omelettes in town. Being a huge fan of mushrooms I also adored the cheese and mushroom filling inside. It was served with more of those incredible home fries, toast, and a side salad which added a touch of colour. While it is rather on the pricey side as omelettes go, it is very filling.

Overall we had a fab meal, not only does NY B&B do awesome burgers, they clearly know how to put on a good brunch too. While the menu caters to the American crowd, there are plenty of dishes to please us Brits. The only thing missing are boozy brunch cocktails, which they assured me they are working on. In the meantime they still have wine, beer, and a pretty well stocked bar, and are happy to make you anything you like if they have the ingredients.

NY Burger & Bagel Hannam is located at 744-5 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Hanggangjin station (line 6) and come out of exit 3. Walk straight and cross the street whenever you get a chance. Then take a left at the Bun Cha place. At the next intersection take another left, and then keep walking down that street, you will see NY B&B in the new big black building to the right, the entrance is tucked away round the corner but you can’t miss the signs. For more information you can call them on 02-592-7992 or check out their facebook pages. The store is open 10:30am – 10:30pm Mon-Sat, and 10:30-9:00pm on Sundays. Reservations are in no way necessary but advised to avoid disappointment.

Nori Table

A fortnight ago, I was lucky enough to catch the very last of the summer sunshine and enjoyed a delightful alfresco lunch at Nori Table. The Cali style sushi joint has been open for near on a year at this point but they recently added some DIY sushi platters to the menu and asked me to come by and try them to see what I thought. Never one to turn down a chance to try something new, especially in a place I frequent regularly, I of course had to say yes.

The coolest new item on the menu is the Teori Nori, a do it yourself sushi roll platter. We had the set for 1 which is 23,000, there is also a larger set for 2 for 44,000. The platter comes piled high with salmon, yellow tail, spicy tuna, avocado, tempura shrimp, beef tataki, tamago egg, uni, and torched scallops. You also get a stack of seaweed papers, a pile of rice, a trio of fish roe and wasabi and ginger. As you get two of everything, it makes it a very easy to share between two people, though me not being a huge raw fish lover, we shared ours a little differently. Of the fishy dishes I loved the tempura shrimps, scallops and the spicy tuna, while TFB made short work of the raw fish. The sweet and soft tamago egg was also delightful and we had more than enough seaweed and rice to make our rolls. If you are picky about what you like on your sushi like I am, this is kind of ideal, you can pick and choose what to put on the rolls. The platter is recommended for one, but you get  as you get at least two of every item I think it could be shared between two, especially if you add a couple of extra side dishes.

As you know I am powerless to resist almost anything deep fried, especially chicken, so we added a potion of Chicken Kara-age (8,000). The classic Japanese fried chicken dish, was very moreish. The chunks of tender chicken were in a light yet crispy batter and the dipping sauce slightly sweet and salty. I am also a big fan of their Chicken Teriyaki, which is equally crispy and just has a different but slightly thicker sauce.

I have tried most of the large speciality rolls over my visits, all of which I have enjoyed, but this time we tried the SosorrybutIrollyou (14,000). The SosorrybutIrollyou was stuffed with asparagus, cream cheese, and wrapped in thin slices of beef. We really enjoyed this beef roll, the tataki style beef worked really well with the cream cheese and asparagus, and for those who aren’t big fish fans like myself it is a welcome addition to the menu. In fact all of the rolls I have tried on my numerous visits have been tasty.

Overall we had another satisfying meal at Nori Table, and I am glad to see they are doing well. Western style sushi is a hard find in Seoul, so Nori Table has helped fill a big gap in the market.They have a very large menu, with lots of different items, so there is something for everyone. I have been numerous times over the past year and have always had a good time.

Nori Table is located at 455-47 Itaewon-dong, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station and exit using the elevator or exit 1. Come out of the elevator and walk over the bridge. Take a right at the end and follow the road round. You will see Nori Table just up on the right opposite 3 section. For more information you can call them on 02-792-4427 or check out their facebook page. They are open for lunch and dinner everyday except Tuesday and take a break between 3:30-5:30pm.

Dairy Queen

Last week, Dairy Queen opened its very first branch here in Seoul, and on Saturday they had their grand opening. As part of that grand opening they ran a very special promotion where the first 100 people in the line would win free Blizzards for a month, and the first 100 people to buy ice cream cakes would win free Fan Set Combos for a year. As a non American I have never eaten Dairy Queen before, in fact I only had a very loose idea of what the place even was, I imagined an ice cream parlour of sorts, a farm or possibly a milk and cheese shop. Usually I absolutely abhor queuing, but for a year’s worth of free food I was prepared to break that rule. So my lack of plans that weekend and lust for free food found me waking up at 6:45 on a Saturday to get there to join the queue. We arrived around 7:15 which was just in time as they had a list of people and at 7:30am it was full. After that they turfed us outside into the cold to wait for the store to open at 10am. Honestly this seemed a kind of cool way of doing it, had I known I hadn’t made it on the list I would have headed straight back home to bed. When they handed out the tickets I was the 55th person in line and the 44th person to buy an ice cream cake. By the time we got to ordering it was 10:45 so I invested about 4 hours in to the endeavour, but it really didn’t seem like that long and I had a lot of fun in the queue with my friends and making the video above.

This first store is located in the University neighbourhood of Hyehwa. There is only one reason I have been to Hyehwa before and that is to drink at one of my favourite cocktail bars, Mix & Malt.  The medium sized store, is set over two floors, and has a cool and relaxed vibe. In the next few months they will be opening more branches all over the country, including one in my neighbourhood of Itaewon, which is when my VIP Fan Deal set card will start paying dividends. The Itaewon location is set to be where Taco bell currently is and will open in December, and will also be running a special grand opening promotion.

On to the food. I decided to use my new Fan Deal set which includes either a cheeseburger or chicken strips, chips, a drink and an ice cream sundae. As I already planned on getting some burgers on top, I went with the chicken strips, plus everyone had gone on about how amazing they are. For burgers I opted for the Crispy Chicken Burger (4,900) Quarterpounder Bacon Cheese Burger (6,800). I’m greedy so I also ordered a portion of onion rings. As you can see it was one hell of a fast food feast. I found the beef burger to be very reminiscent of a Burger King Whopper, I found it very tasty at the time, but I was hella hungry after being in that queue for so long, with only a banana to tide me over. The chicken burger was also pretty decent, a very crispy coating and nicely spiced, could have done with a touch more mayo for my tastes, but a solid fast food burger. I had heard good things about the Onion Rings (2,400) through the grapevine but didn’t really care for them, maybe they weren’t freshly cooked but I probably wouldn’t get them again. I’m not really sure what I expected from DQ before going, I thought it might slightly better than the regular fast food places, but I found it to be pretty similar to Burger King.

Although I had mine for free, I thought the Chicken Sticks (4,900) were kinda pricey, almost five dollars for three. I’m not sure what they charge else where for chicken strips as I rarely buy them but it seemed like a lot to me for some reason. They were tasty enough, I mean anything deep fried is usually good, nice coating the same as the burger, of the two I’d take the more filling chicken burger if asked to choose. I rather enjoyed the chips though, they were quite thick which I loved dipping them into my ice cream like I did as a kid.

The Blizzards are probably considered to be the main reason to visit DQ. We each got 3 mini sized ones as part of our free coupon deal. They come in four sizes mini (2,900), small (3,200) regular (4,200) and large (4,900). There were so many flavours to choose from and between us I think we tried most of them. The two I was most excited to try were the Snickers and Reece’s, neither of which disappointed. The soft serve was thick, sweet, and creamy and studded with chocolatey chunks of heaven. My bestie also got the green tea and red bean which was really not my cup of tea at all. The other standout was the banana which had little pieces of pineapple in it, and was a total tropical treat. Part of the Blizzards slogan, it that they are supposed to be so thick that it will stay inside the cup even if you flip it over. In my haste to take photos I completely forgot to do this, but it is worth checking because if any drops out you get the blizzard for free.

As part of the deal I had to order an Ice Cream Cake, there were only two left by the time I got to buy mine, so I opted for the Oreo Cake (25,000). After eating so much already, I took that bad boy home. However plenty of my fellow queuee’s were tucking into theirs right there and then. I didn’t really know what to expect but the the cake was mostly made of vanilla ice cream, with chocolate ice cream, sauce and Oreos inside. It was then topped with a very light Oreo ice cream frosting. I actually rather enjoyed this. The only ice cream cake I have eaten before is the Baskin Robbins ones, which honestly I have never cared for, despite enjoying their ice cream a lot . This DQ one was much better, and a very good price. It would make a nice change from crummy birthday cakes from PB that most of us seem to get stuck with.

So after queueing for many hours for my first taste of Dairy Queen, I found out that it is just a fast food joint with pretty awesome ice-cream. If you love it from back home or really enjoy ice-cream go give it a shot, but they plan to open many more branches over the next few months, so there is no need to travel across town. I’ll be very happy to eat my free weekly meal once the Itaewon branch opens,but don’t think I’ll get much use out of the free month of ice creams. Please let me know if you would like one of the coupons, they are all predated but I’m happy to share them rather than let them go to waste.

Dairy Queen is located at 8, Daehak-ro 10 gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Hyehwa Station (line 4) and come out of exit 2. Turn back on yourself and You should see a small walk way to the right. Go through it and you will see Dairy Queen right in front of you. For ore information you can call them on 02-703-6696, or check out their facebook page.