Great Korean Beer Festival on Halloween!

 

For those of you still unsure about your Halloween plans this weekend, do I have the event for you. The Great Korean Beer Festival is having a beer and fun filled Halloween extravaganza all weekend long. The event is being held at the Public Parking Lot at Yongsan Electronics shopping mall From Friday October 27th- Sunday October 29th. The event is being sponsored by Hyundai I’PARK mall and HDC Shilla Duty Free Shop, and will play host to 18 craft beer breweries and 8 global food companies from all over the country. There will even be a beer specially brewed for the event. The ‘Yongsan Electro IPA’, will be launched and can be sampled at the site.

If you have not been to one of the Great Korean Beer Fest events before, you are in for a treat . The festival will offer craft beers from all over the country including Seoul, Gangwon, Busan and Jeju. As well as the hottest international beers from the US and the Czech Republic. Visitors can also learn about beer from local Brew Masters. If you’re worried about drinking on an empty stomach, then fear not, a wide range of international menu items will be available too including premium sausage plates of ‘Jinju Ham’, jamon and paella from ‘Spain Club’, my favourite chicken and rice by ‘Jilhal Bros’, ‘California Pizza Kitchen’, ‘Mad Fisherman’ and a whole host of food trucks. If craft beer and great food aren’t enough to float your boat, there will be plenty to enjoy at the Electro Land, Najin and Sunin Plaza. Unleash your inner nerd at the IT Experience Zone which will allow visitors to participate in 100 won auctions, discount events of electronic products, IT experiences, and drone operating.

One of the most exciting events at the fest will be the Halloween Costume Contest. Everyone is invited to participate and has a chance to win over 1.5 million won in prizes. I actually won second prize a few years back for my ‘Chimaek costume” and can attest that the contest is a lot of fun. The Great Korean Beer Festival is being held at Yongsan Electronics shopping mall From Friday October 27th- Sunday October 29th, and runs from 1pm to 11pm. There are no separate fees for entrance, only for goods consumed inside the festival. For more information about the event please see the Great Korean Beer Fest website or facebook page.

Linus BBQ – HBC

Southern style barbecue has been a big old trend in these parts over the past year or two, though very few places have managed enjoy the success of Linus Kim. The Linus Itaewon location has had queues around the clock since it opened, and the variety of copycats haven’t made a dent in it. Luckily for those of us who like the food but don’t want  to wait in line for the privilege, Linus has just opened up a second location in Haebangchon.

The new place is set over two floors and is located 3/4 of the way up the main road in Haebangchon. On the first floor is the bar with some counter style seating overlooking the scenic beauty that is HBC, while upstairs is the kitchen and the familiar wooden tables and chairs. The paint is still practically wet on this place, as it only opened during Chuseok so we were easily able to grab a table for dinner. Once the word spreads I am sure this will change, however unlike the other location this one will take reservations, saving you from those monumental queues if you plan ahead.

Like its customers stomachs, the Linus menu has grown in size at this new location. All the favourites are still on, as are the lunchtime sandwiches, and the new smoked chickens. Having eaten the pulled pork and brisket about a thousand times I was very excited to try the muster of Linus’ chicken. You can eat it in a variety of ways, but we sprung for the new Smoked Chicken Platter (22,000). This comes with a whole smoked chicken, six sliders, white sauce, tomato salad and taters and gravy. The chicken had a real heady smokey flavour throughout and came away nicely from the bones. The skin wasn’t as crisp as I might have liked it, but it was in no way under cooked either. The meat was tender and juicy and went very well with the new white BBQ sauce. I liked this thick garlicky white sauce a lot. I have to say I was very impressed with the size of this smoked chicken platter. Both TFB and myself can eat a lot but we struggled to finish half of this as we ordered another dish. I think we both would have left full and happy, had we only had this especially as it works out to only 11,000 per person.

One of my favourite items from Linus is the Da Bomb Sandwich (13,900), but  they only serve it at lunch at the Itaewon branch. Due to my schedule I am not often a lady who lunches, so  rarely got to indulge as often as I would have liked. The toasted bun is layered with brisket, cheese, caramelized onions, fried pickles and a sweet BBQ sauce. I love the combination of the tender smokey meat, with the cheese and onions. With the slightly sourness and crunch from the deep fried pickles it just ticks all my flavour boxes. We made this sandwich into set for an extra 2,500 won for our sandwich which included two sides of our choice, I got the creamy slaw and skinny fries. For some reason all the sandwich set upgrades are different prices which I found odd, as surely the sides cost the same no matter the sandwich. Hopefully it is just an oversight on the menu.

Not only does Linus have good food, they have a damn fine drinks menu too. My favourite is the Pina Colada (21,000). This gigantic frozen drink  is suggested for two, but being a bit of a lush I prefer it for one. As you can see it is served in a hollowed out pineapple. The cocktail itself incredibly tasty, creamy, and refreshing and has a good flavour of rum coming through. They also serve it with a cup of pineapple that hasn’t been used in your drink which I find a really nice touch. The rest of the drinks menu is equally stellar, and having had quite a few over the years I can definitely give them my seal of approval.

Overall I am quite pleased with the new locations, and vow to head there more often. Fingers crossed it wont be as busy as the Itaewon branch, but if that does happen you can still make a reservation. The new menu items are great, and they have some affordable sandwiches on offer too, which would make a cheap takeout dinner if you live locally.

Linus is located at 37-5 Yongsan-dong 2 ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong station (line 6). Walk straight out of exit 2 for about 200 meters and take the first left and walk straight along the road with all the kimchi pots. Keep walking straight along this street past Phillies & Casablanca. You will see Linus BBQ a little further up on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-790-2930 or check out their facebook page. They are open everyday from 11am -10:30pm (kitchen closes at 9:30pm).

Lord

Despite my plans to do ‘Sober October”, it feels like I have been out drinking a hell of a lot lately, but there are just so many places to go to. I’ve been hearing good things about Lord which is attached to the very popular Fountain for months now. I love a good cocktail especially when it comes with a discount price tag, but despite walking past the bar dozens of times and seeing their special offer board I never actually ventured in until last week.

Lord looks pretty fancy from the outside with its velvet rope and all, but it is even fancier on the inside. The 1920s style bar is gilded with gold and filled with sumptuous banquets and a vintage piano. It was fairly busy when we arrived on a Wednesday night and we were given a seat at the bar. As soon as we sat down we were given a complimentary glass of Perrier Jouet while we looked over the menu. A feature which I wish all bars had. I didn’t take much time to decided as I knew it was Mojito day! Every Wednesday the bar offers a mojito cocktail for only 5,000 won. Under usual circumstances I would be very suspicious of any bar serving up a 5,000 won mojito. I am very fussy when it comes to drinks, however these were absolutely splendid as you can see. The mojito was expertly made and a very good size, though it didn’t take me long to finish it and order another. An absolute steal! ,

My companion was in the mood for a French Connection (15,000) Which is a mix of Brandy, Ameretto and Grand Marnier. It was adorned with one of their homemade maraschino cherries, was the perfect cocktail to sip throughout the night. If the free champagne & cheap mojitos weren’t  enough, the bar also passes out free canapes. Sadly the ones we tried consisted of crudites and cheap mayonnaise, and Costco cheese with an olive on top but we appreciated the effort none the less.

Lord has 5,000  specials happening all throughout the week. Sundays they have Flatbreads, Mondays – Margaritas, Tuesdays – 5,000 12yr scotch, Wednesdays – Mojitos, Thursdays – Hendricks and Tonic. The 5,000 specials, coupled with the exquisite bar and free champs on arrival are totally making Lord my favourite bar in town right now, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a better deal on a week night if you are looking to go somewhere for a couple of drinks.

Lord is located at 116-7, Itaewondong, Yongsangu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon Station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Take the first left and walk to the end of the street, then turn left again. It’s on your right. For more information you can call them on 010-9696-7951 or check out their facebook page. Lord is open everyday day from 6pm -5am.

Chiang Rai – Must Eats

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As you know I recently took a quick jaunt to Thailand over the Chuseok vacation. I have been to Thailand many times in the past, but this time I ventured up to the far north to Chiang Rai. This was my first time up in the mountains, so I was very excited to see a different kind of cuisine than that I had experienced further south. There are no direct flights from Korea, but it is cheap and easy to transfer in Hong Kong, even during the peak season of Chuseok. It also allowed us to spend a few days in Hong Kong, which is never a bad thing. Chiang Rai is a small town like city, but it is home to the famous White Temple, which was quite a sight to behold. On this trip we weren’t lucky enough to bag a free stay, but we did find a very nice and reasonably priced hotel called Laluna Hotel. We paid around $50 USD a night for our garden view king sized room. I was really pleased with this place, the room was really light and spacious, well decorated and had a gigantic bed. The bathroom was nice enough too. There was a fab pool with super big and comfy sun loungers, and a  plentiful breakfast buffet included in the price. It was only a cheap tuk tuk or taxi ride into town, and I think we made a darn good choice on where to stay.

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Barrab – On our first night we headed to Barrab, a cheap and cheerful Thai restaurant located just by the clock tower. It was here we first tasted our first bowl of heavenly Khao Soi. The local sweet & sour coconut curry noodle dish is incredible and you will find it in virtually every restaurant you go to. This one was topped with a chicken leg, but we also saw it served with beef, shrimp and pork. While this didn’t end up being the best one we had, it was still pretty decent. We also had a very good Pad Thai and a fairly mediocre cashew chicken. The food was very cheap though, and whilst we had better dishes at other restaurants, I certainly wouldn’t say we had a bad meal here, especially considering our three dishes & two beers cost less than $10. In Seoul you wouldn’t even get one dish for that.

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Some Sunday Magic – This place is a little bit out of the main town, but not far and cheap enough to get to in a taxi or Uber. I promise if you enjoy delicious food and good aesthetics you won’t be disappointed you visited. The restaurant is actually an art gallery too, meaning the whole place is filled with plenty of beautiful things to look at as well as serving some amazingly good food. We couldn’t resist ordering another Khao Soi. This one we decided to try with pork which I think we both preferred over the chicken. The broth in this soup was even better than the Barrab one as it had a slight peanutty flavour which added an extra dimension to the dish. We also had a boat of pineapple fried rice, I just adore food that is served in food and this tasted just as good as it looks. To drink I had the most beautiful caramel macchiato, it was like a dessert you could drink. Seoul coffee shops take note, this is the way to do it. I also enjoyed another killer smoothie which I of course topped with vodka and TFB enjoyed a Leo beer, which soon became his favourite of the three local varieties.

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Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House & Bistro – One of the most popular spots to visit in Chiang Rai, is Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House, and for good reason, the huge wooden clapboard house set in beautiful cottage style gardens along the Mekong river is absolutely stunning. However it is not just the setting that is beautiful, the food is equally as fabulous. The adorable newspaper style menu is a mix of western and Thai food. After eating pad thai non stop all week, we were up for a change, so enjoyed their incredible Truffle Eggs Benedict with bacon and potato wedges. I’m not sure hollandaise will ever taste as good again without truffles. We also wanted to test the muster of their Khao Soi, which has quickly become my new favourite Thai food. We also supped a refreshing Raspberry Lemonade and and a super sweet Banoffee Cofffe, this was like desert and coffee all in one glass. One small thing that was rather annoying, and caused me to have a total Verruca Salt moment was the fact that they stop serving alcohol between 2pm-5pm like most of the convenience marts. Most bars don’t seem to observe this, but this one does and I felt tortured enjoying such a fabulous lazy lunch without a cocktail in my hand. So if you want to drink, plan your visit accordingly, or be sure to smuggle in your own.

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Nai Suan Bed & Breakfast –  Probably the world’s cutest bed and breakfast ever, when stepping on to the property and wondering through the gardens it had a real Alice in Wonderland feel about it. The baby blue wooden building is set in a very adorable overgrown English style garden. Once inside the decor doesn’t stop, mismatched vintage furniture is strewn throughout. The drinks and food on the menu are all really well priced. We enjoyed a chicken salad, and a very tasty shrimp curry, with rice and a heart shaped egg which we thought to be adorable. I also had a mango and passion fruit shake and another fabulous caramel macchiato. Well worth a visit if you want a pretty place to take some pictures.

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Favola at Le Meridian Hotel – On our last night, we were invited to fantastic dinner at Favola by the lovely staff at the Meridian hotel. The hotel itself is incredible with the gorgeous grounds and rooms being a beautiful mix of modern and eastern in style, and had I known how beautiful it was, we probably would have ended up staying here. There are two restaurants on the property, a buffet and the upmarket Italian, Favola.  We dined on the restaurant’s set menu dinner menu for two which kicked off with a prosciutto wrapped shrimp salad, before moving on to the incredibly creamy gnocchi vongole. For our main course we had roast chicken and melt in the mouth belly pork, both were so good it was hard to choose which one was the best. We finished the meal with an incredible light and creamy tiramisu. It was the ideal way to spend our last night and was a great end to the trip.

Mozzie

Before my Chuseok jaunt to Thailand & Hong Kong, I was invited to Mozzie try their new in house wines. I have always dreamed of coming out with my own brand of wines possibly called ‘Drunk Girl’ so kudos for the Mozzie team for brewing their own. The Aussie cum Kiwi bar and restaurant located on Hooker Hill in Itaewon has been open for almost two years. To celebrate these momentous two years they have come out with their own two wines, a Sauvignon Blanc, and a Pinot Noir both made in Malborough, New Zealand. Now I’m no expert when it comes to wine, I generally prefer vodka but I’m not completely clueless either. Malborough wines are very popular right now, especially in the UK, in fact they are pretty much all my family tend to drink. So being the lush that I am, I was very excited to go and give them a try.

First up was the Sauvignon Blanc, which is 8,000 for a glass or 35,000 for a bottle. This was the one I was most excited about, as I generally prefer white over red and a sauv blanc is usually one of my favourites. The wine was light and very drinkable, not too dry and it had a refreshing hint of citrus. At 13% it certainly packed a punch, after one glass on an empty stomach I was buzzed.  Thankfully we had ordered the Cut the Cheese (22,000), a salad topped with homemade ricotta which took the edge off. The ricotta on this salad was sensational, it was so smooth and velvety, while the dressing on the salad provided a nice tang. It worked really well with the wine, especially while sat on the balcony enjoying the last of the good weather.

For our second course, we delved into the Pinot Noir which is also 8,000 for a glass or 35,000 for a bottle. Whenever the words Pinot Noir, are uttered, I cant help but think about the song sang by Titus Andromedon from Kimmy Schmidt, so had to include the video below. Pinot Noir is TFB’s favourite wine, so I knew he would adore this. The almost translucent red had plenty of girth to it while still being quite smooth. Again it was very drinkable and I could see how it would be very easy to finish a bottle.  Alongside the Pinot, we ate the Canberra Carpaccio (22,000), slices of beef tenderloin topped with spinach, truffle oil, Parmesan and nuts. This was a great companion dish for the wine, as the heady scent of the truffles added a real richness. The salad was a very filling dish, without being too heavy. Sat outside on the balcony I felt very European in the evening sun, we were also afforded an excellent view of the local scenery.

Overall I thought the new Mozzie wines to be delightful, and very reasonably priced. In fact if you get them to go, it is only 24,000 for the sauvignon blanc and 32,000 for the pinot noir. They also have an amazing Wino Wednesday promotion where the wine is half price for both a glass and a bottle if you order a main dish. If you prefer to do your drinking in the comfort of your own home, where you can pass out without fear of judgement you can get the bottles delivered via shuttle, along with the rest of their menu. If you have yet to use shuttle, please click here for 4000 won off on your first order.

Mozzie is located at 126-7 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-Gu, Seoul. To get there take the subway to Itaewon station(line 6), and come out of exit 3. Walk straight until the next intersection and take a right. Cross the road and take the first left (by Mr Kebab). Mozzie is up on your left maybe 50m up that road, opposite the infamous Old Town. For more information you can call them on +82 10-9417-9554 or check out their facebook page. Mozzie is open every day from 5pm-12am.

Staycation – Incheon

A few weeks ago I went on my very first staycation, as I was invited by Incheon Tourism Office to come and enjoy the city of Incheon. While I have explored much of Korea over my 9 years of living here, I have to confess, the only time I have visited the city of Incheon is to go to the airport, despite the fact it’s only an hour away from Seoul. The biggest lure of the inclusive trip for me was the VIP ticket to the World Club Dome music festival. I do enjoy a good rave, but have had such a busy summer I haven’t been to a single festival this year. So when I was offered a chance to go, I quickly agreed, and packed up my unicorn horn and headed off to dance the night away to Armin Van Buren

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As part of our package we were granted a stay at the Central Park Hotel, in Songdo. The hotel is conveniently located right by the park and we were afforded the most beautiful views from our room on the 11th floor. The room itself was really nice, I never expected such luxury. It was a very overdone gold gilded affair, very Liberace but anyone who knows me will tell you that is exactly my style. The best thing in the room was the fabulous king-sized bed in the center of the room. The sheets were silly soft Egyptian cotton and really high quality I had the most wonderful nights sleep upon them. The bathroom was glorious too, with the a rainfall shower and huge Jacuzzi claw foot bathtub. The room came with all the amenities you’d expect including a fridge which we were able to fill without own goodies and lovely white cotton robes. I hadn’t imagined I would get up for breakfast after such a hard nights partying at the World Club Dome, but I awoke ravenous and managed to drag my ass out of the bed for something to eat. The dining room down on the lobby floor was rather large and put on a rather good spread for breakfast. Coffee, fresh fruits and juices, pastries and a variety of western breakfast and dinner dishes. However if you aren’t staying it is probably not with the 20,000 if it isn’t included in the room rate.

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After checking out of the hotel at midday, we sauntered off to have a go on the Incheon City Bus Tour. The tour starts Incheon Station and goes all the way to Songdo Central Park, with seven different stops along the way including China Town, Wolmi Culture Street, and Incheon City Museum. The bus cost 5,000 won for a one day ticket allowing you to jump on and off as often as you please. The first bus starts at 9:30am, and the last bus leaves at 5:20pm. If you manage to visit every stop and collect a stamp at each, you can even exchange it for a free prize.

After a busy trip exploring all that Incheon had to offer, we were desperate need of lunch, so after receiving a recommendation form a local friend we headed to Burger 101. It was just opposite the hotel on the other side of the park. I’ve written at length about burger options in Seoul, but I had no idea of the scene that was happening in Songdo. This was just what I needed to cure my creeping hangover. The Roasted Cheeseroom (10,500) was a 7oz beef burger topped with roasted cheddar, red onion, bacon and slathered in horseradish mayo. I was very happy when I saw the mound of horseradish mayo on this one but it did make it very hard to eat. We also ordered the BBQ Onionroom (10,000), a 5oz burger topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, onion rings and BBQ sauce. This one was also a delight,as I love any burger with onion rings on it. We also upgraded each of the burgers to include a soda and fries for an extra 5,000 each. The burgers were good, and while I wouldn’t travel all the way there for another, it was a great option while in Songdo. When we explored the area more we also stumbled across another swathe of Korean and foreign restaurants which all looked promising so you aren’t likely to go hungry in Songdo.

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We ended our  trip with a fabulous five course course dinner at the  Panoramic 65 restaurant at the Oakwood Premier Hotel. There is a special lift in the hotel to take you all the way up to the 65th floor, it is so high up our ears popped. The weather was a touch on the cloudy side in the early evening so the view was rather misty once we arrived, but as soon as it got dark we could see the sparkling lights of the city below. We sat down in the very extravagant high ceilinged dining room, which was wrapped in floor to ceiling windows. We were recommended to try Set B, a 6 course menu which cost 75,000 per person. We stared our evening with Carpaccio Di manzo, which consisted of thinly slice Raw Beef with Black Olive Pesto, Parmesan Cheese, Cherry Tomato
and Arugula. Our second course was a rich and creamy celeriac and clam chowder. It paired perfectly with the freshly baked bread. After the soup came the salad course, we were instructed to choose our own dressing,  I went for the light and zingy lemon, whilst my beloved choose the balsamic. Once our plates were cleared we were presented with a magical foggy bowl of watermelon graita to cleanse our palates before moving on to the main course of chargrilled rib-eye. The melt in the mouth steak was served with vegetables, mashed potato and Madeira sauce. It was great. We finished up with coffee and a tiramisu. All in all a lovely meal, and quite affordable compared to other hotels. If you have a special occasion it is the ideal place to celebrate.

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Overall I was surprised there was so much to do in Incheon, and we didn’t even take full of advantage of everything to see. I’ll certainly be going back, there are some lovely hotels and it’s the perfect city getaway or another option if you have a layover at Incheon airport and don’t want to come all the way into Seoul.

 

 

Chuseok Restaurant Guide

Happy Holidays one and all. If you hadn’t noticed it is is Chuseok, and we have been gifted something even better than a luxurious Spam box set, 9 days of vacation! Like most of the country I am leaving the city once again to go travelling, but I couldn’t leave those of you not vacationing high and dry so wanted to put together this quick restaurant guide to let you know whats open and when.

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California Kitchen & Pub has a Chuseok special serving up some incredible home made pastrami. You can get it in an incredible Reuben Sandwich, a Pastrami Burger, or Pastrami Chili Fries. They also have all their regular Cali style Mexican dishes and craft beers. They are open for lunch and dinner from 11:30am-11:30pm.

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NY Burger & Bagel serves up some damn fine burgers and is open throughout the holidays everyday from 12pm-9pm. They have branches in Itaewon and in Gangnam. My favourite is Wasabiiii but there are a lot of other great burgers on the menu.

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WinK is the place to eat and drink near Kyodae in Gangnam. The menu offers burgers, pub grub and brunch and is open throughout the holidays from 11am-11:30pm. Don’t miss out on trying the burgers, or their boozy brunch options.

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Brera is without a doubt my favourite affordable Italian in Seoul. They have incredible freshly made pasta, gnocchi, and pizzas, as well as an all day breakfast and brunch menu. They are open throughout the holidays from 11am-11pm.

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Summer Lane Cafe – Summer Lane is my new favourite spot for brunch and thankfully it is only closed tomorrow (Oct 2nd). On Tuesday & Wednesday they are open from 8:30-3:30, and 8:30am – 8:00 pm the rest of the week. The Aussie brunch items and are not to be missed, especially the Eggs Benedict and croissant french toast.

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Plant is probably Seoul’s best vegan cafe and bakery and thankfully it is open throughout the holidays except on Wednesday (October 4th) from 11am-9pm. They have an incredible menu filled with healthy and delicious cruelty free delights. Taco Tuesday is particularly good, as are the burgers.

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Lobster Bar is renowned for their lobster and lobster sandwiches, but they also have a whole host of fishy treats on the menu and some great beers. They are open everyday of the holidays except Wednesday (October 4th) from 12pm-9pm.

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Shuttle Delivery is open throughout the whole entire holidays, so if you are in desperate need of sustenance but don’t quite have the energy to leave the house they will bring you what you need. Many of the restaurants will be closed at some point but not at the same time, so you will always be able to get something delivered.

Summer Lane Cafe

Brunch is by far and away my favourite meal of the week. However these days the options for a good brunch in my neighbourhood are seriously dwindling. Either they have closed down, or have epic queues. Thankfully I have an amazing new brunch place to share with you, just in time for the weekend. I unfortunately cannot take credit for his one, that honour belongs to fellow blogger Toronto Seoulcialite, who was luckily enough to stumble across it last week. The fact that this place is literally around the corner from my house makes it even better, it is so close I could even roll up in my pyjamas.

Summer Lane is located in the old Revolucion location. The spot has been completely redone and and is now a very light and airy white affair, with adorable blue accents. This is a complete change from the dark and dingy industrial style space it was before. While the cafe is quite small with seating for about a dozen or so, the menu is completely fabulous and is filled with lots of brunch and breakfast treats with an Aussie twist.

After eyeing up the menu, there was one item that sounded pretty much like my idea of brunch heaven, the Bacon Waffle Egg Benedict (15,000). The cheddar waffle was piled high with cajun hollandaise, avocado, poached egg and bacon.This was pretty much all of my favourite brunch ingredients in one dish, in fact it was even more dreamy than it sounded. The egg when split oozed into a of river gold despite the fact that it had been sat on the plate for about 5 minutes while I took 100,000 pictures. The hollandaise was perfection, I didn’t really get much from the cajun spices, but it was zingy and buttery and exactly how a good hollandaise should taste. One of Korea’s best for sure. The bacon also deserves a mention, it was damn good, and the waffle light and fluffy without being too cheesy. Overall a very well executed dish, there is also a version with salmon too, which I am sure will please my fish loving friends.

There were so many delicious sounding dishes on the menu, that I was really torn about which to choose. However we finally opted for the Croissant French Toast (12,000). A Croissant topped with maple bacon, seeds and bananas. A good french toast is always nice and buttery, so using the croissant in place of the bread was a stroke of genius. As good as the french toast was, the flambeed bananas were even better, they were sweet and tasty bites of heaven. I love a dish that combines sweet and salty flavours, so having the bacon on top really completed it for me, and the beautiful flowers adorning it were the cherry on top of the cake.

While I generally enjoy a cocktail with my brunch, it was early on a weekday when we visited, so the few shreds of social dignity I have left dictated that I should not be drinking at such an hour. Instead I was allured by the Aussie Vanilla Latte (6,500). An ice vanilla latte is always my coffee of choice, so when i found this one was topped with a scoop of ice cream, I was as giddy as a school girl. Also on the menu are a variety of other coffees, homemade ades, and a few beers. Sadly there are currently no cocktails, which is the only thing stopping this place from being my favourite brunch place in the entire world. However after chatting with the owners they said they will consider adding some to the menu, so fingers crossed!!!

 

Summer Lane is located at 43 Haenamu-ro 26-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight until you reach the underpass then go through and exit using the left hand stairs. Follow the road around past Paris Baguette and the Well Being Mart until you reach Cheese-alot / Maloneys Pub. Take the alleyway going up the hill, then turn right. Summer Lane will be just up ahead on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-792-8114 or check out their Instagram. They are open from 8:30am – 8:00 pm everyday except Mondays when they are closed. *During Chuseok the opening hours are as follows. 10/2 closed, 10/3 8:30-3, 10/4 8:30-3, 10/5 – 10/9 8:30-8, and 10/10 closed.

Budapest Must Eats

As you more than likely know, I recently took a trip to Budapest, Hungary. Sorry it has taken me so long to compile a list of where we ate, but I have been a very busy girl since I arrived back in Seoul. It was my first time visiting, so I couldn’t wait to spend three days exploring all the best places to eat and drink. This European city is split into two by the famed Danube River, each half making up the cities name Buda & Pest. We stayed on the Pest side which was where we found all the amazing places below, hopefully one of these days I will find time to return and check out the Buda side.  Hungary still uses their own currency making it very affordable, especially when compared to the rest of Europe though it’s likely to go up once(if) they officially change to the Euro so be sure to check out this amazing city sooner rather than later.

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Ruin Bars –  One of Budapest’s most famous food and drink attractions are the ruin bars in District 7, also known as the Jewish district. As a regular reader it should be clear to you how much I enjoy going to the pub, so was thrilled by the prospect of visiting these fabulous attractions in the name of sightseeing. All of the bars are different but one of our favourites and probably the most famous is Szimpla Kert. The ruined building is set over several floors and deceptively large. When you first enter you are greeted with a map which points out the various bars to be discovered all serving different drinks. The walls, floors and pretty much every imaginable surface are covered with plants, bathtubs, mannequins, old cars, and all manner or trash like treasures. It was a real sight to behold. If you like things a little bit more sleek and polished then you will surely enjoy Mazel Tov, a more glamorous location which houses a gorgeous long stone bar, and ceilings which are covered in fairy lights and dangling ivy. We kicked off our night here with a couple of really good cocktails, and pre-dinner appetizers of freshly baked pita bread, sweet potato fries and hummus. We really enjoyed the the live band which was playing, though the place got pretty busy, so be sure to make a reservation if you want to avoid a long wait.

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Karavan – The Karavan is a street food market and beer garden filled with different food trucks. This place was uber cool, and conveniently located right next to Szimpla Kert. The trucks had a real mix of foods going on from burgers, to pizza, cocktails and desserts. We decided to try the burger made from the Hungarian speciality bread called langos. This burger was topped with salty sheep cheese, grilled paprika peppers and rucola. We also tried the Kolbice from Kobe sausages. This was a gigantic cone shaped pretzel type bread that was filled with our choice of sausages, cabbage and bacon. I wasn’t really sold on this particular speciality, but my beloved seemed to enjoy it.

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Szimply – After walking around the city for only half a day, we soon realised that there are a hell of a lot of vegan and veggie friendly places happening in Budapest. Clearly the healthy food craze is happening in this Bohemian city. One place I couldn’t resist trying was the beautiful Szimply. We ordered their Avo Toast (2200 Ft)  which was smashed avocado on sourdough toast topped with sun dried tomatoes, roasted chickpeas, and basil. We also got the Cheese Steak (1900 Ft), a sandwich filled with celery steak, beetroot mayo, cheese sauce, grilled peppers, and bacon. While this item wasn’t veggie, most of the other items on the menu were. We also shared one of their Fresh Juices (990 Ft), a beetroot and lime concoction which helped revive our jet lagged bodies. As well as the food being just what we needed, the cafe itself is located in a really cute courtyard along with their coffee shop which is just opposite.

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Great Market HallThe Great Market Hall is probably the most famous of the food markets in Budapest, which is why it is filled with lots of high end goods and tourists. However while it isn’t the cheapest, it has a great selection, and the market itself is quite beautiful and will yield some great photos. It is also conveniently located at the Pest end of Szabadság Bridge allowing you to take a gander at the Danube river after you are finished.

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Drum Cafe – For those on a budget but desperate to try some Hungarian food, then you must stop at the Drum Cafe, we stumbled across this adorable outdoor cafe that was packed to the rafters on a sunny afternoon when we were looking for a delicious snack to tide us over between lunch and dinner. The menu was huge and had plenty of traditional dishes like the Goulash, and Paprikash, but we couldn’t resist trying the traditional Langosh (790 Ft). A Hungarian fried bread topped with sour cream, garlic and cheese. The bread was delightfully fresh and chewy and quite refreshing when topped with the sour cream and cheese. We also tried the Dödölle (990 Ft), a dumpling filled with cheese, and roasted in goose fat, topped with bacon and cream. We adored this dish, it wasn’t one we were familiar with and never would have tried it if we had not stopped here.

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Mr Funk – If you love desserts then Mr Funk is one place you cannot miss. The donut and bagel cafe is the kind of place where all your dreams come true. The donuts are decadently decorated, and you can even have one on top of a freakshake. I couldn’t resist getting the Unicorn Shake (1990 Ft). The strawberry shake was topped with a unicorn donut with a sour candy mane and fondant horn and ears, marshmallows, whipped cream and sprinkles. But there were dozens of others to choose from along with the bagels which also tasted great and I’m guessing often get overshadowed by the more instagramable donuts. We had The Italian (1190 Ft), the bagel of your choice topped with cream cheese, tomato and prosciutto, a damn fine lunch indeed.

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All you can eat Hungarian Buffet – There isn’t much I enjoy more than an all you can eat buffet, the greedy pig inside of me just loves the opportunity to stuff myself silly. So when we came across an ad for the Trofea Grill Restaurant, it seemed churlish not to give it ago and have the chance to try lots of different Hungarian specialities in one go. There are three locations in the city but we visited the Etterem Location which included all you can drink cocktails along with the wine and beer for the same price. It varies between lunch and dinner but we paid 5900 Ft per person for a weekday dinner. This included all of their booze, which was surprisingly good (even the cocktails). A huge appetiser, soup, and salad section. A grill to order station with at least 20 different kinds of marinated fish and meat. A hot buffet filled with more meat and side dishes like goulash, paprikash, and the famed dumpling. There was also a magnificent dessert buffet, with at least 8 creamy and chocolatey desserts. One of my favourites were the incredible profiteroles, which were served in a fabulous chocolate mousse, but there was also tiramisu and another half a dozen things I was too drunk to remember or photograph. For the more healthy among us there was also a beautiful fruit platter. Probably the best part of the evening was when the two Hungarian dancers put on a show for us all, after that they started a conga line and then taught us all a dance. I was having the time of my life after all those drinks and it made for a very fun evening. If you are short on time this is a truly great find. 

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Gozsdu Udvar – We found this cute and quirky courtyard of bars  when we very tired after a hard days sightseeing. The Gozsdu Udvar area is overflowing with bars and restaurants, and I can imagine it is the place to see and be seen of an evening. There is also a little area filled with more food trucks. If you are looking to party this would be a great place to start your evening, sadly we had a very early flight the next morning so neglected to do so. But next time I will be there for sure!

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Lehel Market – We first came across the Lehel Market when we were travelling to Trofea for dinner, but quickly found out it was worth a trip in itself. The market is more local than the Great Hall, and here you will see the community doing their shopping and living their lives. The array of different goods was quite impressive, from fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, bakeries, dried goods, and even a honey store. We found that the prices here were really cheap and if you are staying for a couple of weeks and have time to prepare your own food then this would be a great place to source your own ingredients.

 

The Concorde

I know it seems as though I have been away for forever, and I have. But I’m back now and there’s nothing like coming home to a bar where everyone knows your name to a well made cocktail. To celebrate being home I met up with my crew and went for another fabulous dinner at McCoys in HBC, then after headed to the Concorde after for a few apres dinner drinks. Now I think we all know I enjoyed a drink more than most, and luckily for me my neighbourhood is packed with dozens upon dozens of bars. In fact it is positively teeming with them, but my new favourite place to sit and drink while watching the world go by is The Concorde.

While The Concorde has been a HBC fixture for some time now, it has just undergone a change of management and a menu renovation. One of my oldest friends in Korea, and one of the owners of Phillies Pub, Alex Illich is now at the helm creating affordable but well executed cocktails with flair and finesse. After taking a look at the menu we were recommended the Spicy Greyhound (16,000) this was made with freshly squeezed to order grapefruit juice, Titos vodka, spicy syrup, and hellfire bitters.  As much as I love vodka I have never been big on grapefruit but a companion ordered this and it blew my mind. It was so refreshing, with a nice kick at the end from the spice. This is a super grown up cocktail that felt classy, yet cool at the same time and was one of our favourites of the night.

When I saw that there was a Cherry Mojito (12,000) on the menu I was as giddy as a school girl. Nothing makes me happier than a mojito, and a cherry flavoured one sounded like delightful way to enjoy one of my favourite fruits. The classic drink was studded with liquor soaked cherries which gave a the mojito a boozy edge. The mojito is a staple of the menu but the fruit will change weekly to accommodate what is in season. Also on the menu is a killer Old Fashioned. I have literally hated every Old fashioned I have ever tried, however this one made with rye instead was divine. The Daquiri (10,000), deserves a mention too. Not only is it cheap as chips, it was also delicious.

By the end of the night we had made our way through most of the menu and we didn’t get a bad drink all night. All the cocktails are reasonably priced and range between 10,000 – 16,000, with the option to upgrade to the super premium brands if you prefer. Though the bar itself it small, it is a place filled with friendly staff and plenty of people looking to have a good time. With the big slide windows open it was also the perfect spot to watch the hi-jinx and happenings of a weekend in Haebangchon.

The Concorde is located at  28 Sinheung-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6). Walk straight out of exit 2 for about 200 meters and take the first left and walk straight along the road with all the kimchi pots. You will see The Concorde on the right hand side opposite Bonny’s Pizza. For more information you can call them on 010-2996-3583. They are open from Wednesday – Sundays 6pm – 2am.