If you are feeling a bit down in the dumps because your favourite cocktail bar is closed for the next few weeks, then don’t despair because they are going to be going on the road doing a series of pop ups at three of my favourite restaurants. This weekend they will be keeping it local and having an event in Itaewon at Detroit style pizza place Motor City. Next weekend they will be over in Gyodae at WinK, and finally their last pop up will be hosted at The Beastro in Hongdae.
If you are as big a fan of the Southside Parlor cocktails as I am, then you have probably sampled a few to say the least. Above are just a few of the lovely libations I supped upon during my last visit. However this pop up series has a tiki style theme. Owner Bobby told me that “Tiki is a state of mind where people want to have a good time with amazing refreshing drinks. Southside Parlour fits that vibe so the transition to tiki ain’t no thang. We want to introduce modern Texas Tiki to Korea (not that we’re the first tiki bar) and show everyone how we like to party! Tiki cocktails are drinks that we think can easily fit the Korean palate with all the fresh tropical fruits and flavors. We hope that everyone enjoys the event and learns a little about the Texas Tiki Vibe!” Sounds like the perfect thing to get us feeling the Spring vibes we are currently experiencing.
You probably don’t need much more convincing, it being a Friday and all, but all the cocktails on the tiki menu are just 10,000 won a piece. Plus the different host bars will also be providing tiki themed foods for you to feast upon while you drink, so there’s no need to get sloppy.
The pop ups dates are as follows:
Motor City – Itaewon – Friday March 24th & Saturday March 25th
WinK – Kyodae – Friday March 31st, Saturday April 1st, & Sunday April 2nd
The Beastro – Hongdae – Friday April 7th, Saturday April 8th, & Sunday April 9th
For addresses and directions to the venues please click the links above. For more information on the events please see the Southside Parlor’s facebook page.
I have been meaning to write a review of this place ever since the HBC branch shut down. It was a sad sad day in HBC when the gogit jip closed it doors for the final time. However just up the street in Itaewon is actually a bigger and better location. Its pretty much the same deal as the HBC branch an all you can eat meat extravaganza of Korean BBQ for 16,900 won per person. As you can see below you have 90 minutes to eat as much meat as you can, though this is more than ample. You should also remember to bring cash or pay 1,500 extra for using a card.
Being a total greedy guts the all you can eat offering lights up my world, I can eat until my jeans are straining and my belly begs me stop. The place is huge for starters, making it perfect for large groups, plus the all you can eat option makes it a hell of a lot easier when it comes to splitting the bill. It is also ideal for newbies as can try all the different cuts of meat without the bill spiralling out of control. The place sadly no longer offers its all you can drink beer for 5,000 which is a shame but the beer and soju are cheap enough that you can frivolously add a few bottles on to your tab.
Depending on the size of your party your be deposited a wooden board or two with a selection of meats. Personally I rather enjoy this because you get a bit of everything but if you want to stick to one cut then you can do that too. It usually varies from visit to visit and I’m assuming on the price of the meat but this time we got rib eye, samgyubsal, moksal,cheek, and some other bit which we couldn’t quite figure out. You can also help yourself to banchan(side dishes), the waitress will bring the first round but after that you get it yourself. In regards to sides they have a fair selection with the obligatory kimchi, beansprouts, chillies, onions, garlic, spicy pickled lotus root (which I’m kind of obsessed with), salad, and all the samjang you can eat.
My favourite meat of the selection it is probably the ribeye, which we always have first, probably because its the quickest to cook and we always starving by the time we arrive. Thrown on the hot coals were two huge slabs of steak. While it isn’t going to be the best quality steak you’ve ever eaten it will certainly satisfy your carnivorous cravings.
After the beef had been devoured we worked our way on to the pork cuts. My favourite is the pork belly (samgyupsal) because I like a fatty cut but we were also given galburisal (cheek) which we really enjoyed. The pork is perfect for turning into lettuce wraps when topped with samjang and all the accompanying vegetables. Kind of like a Korean take on a DIY taco.
After that if you aren’t full you can order more of whatever you like which is usually ribeye. They also have quite an array of side dishes which you can pay extra for. Personally I’d rather skip the rice and soup and have more meat but if you can’t live without your bap or jiggae you can order it on the side. The place tends to get pretty busy on weekends so try and arrive as early as possible left you find yourself in a big queue. However there are plenty of good bars near by so you can always grab yourself a drink while you wait.
Itaewon Gogit Jip is located at 9 Itaewon-ro 19-gil Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon station (line 6) and come out of exit 1. Walk straight, and take the first right after KFC. Walk to the end of the until you reach the road which runs parallel to the main road. Then turn left and walk to the very end of the alley way. You will see HBC Gogitjip just up ahead in the alleyway next to Grill 5 taco on the right hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-3785-0514. They are open everyday from 6pm onwards.
Last weekend I decided to embrace the spring weather and get my fat arse out for a workout. Much to his dismay I dragged TFB out with me too. After a bracing walk around the park and quick sop at the HBC Ogari fruit and veg lady we headed back down. For being so virtuous I thought we were both in need of reward so we stopped by Brooklyn Bagel cafe on the way home for a treat. The small store is located at the far end of the main drag of HBC almost opposite the CU. Up at the counter is a menu and a refrigerator full of different cream cheeses and 8 different flavours of bagels. The cute cafe has seating inside and out which is always a plus on a sunny day.
After much deliberation, I decided to go for one of the sandwich style bagels and settled on the Chicken Salad (4,000). The best thing about this sandwich is that they let you choose your bagel, and after looking at their selection I went for the everything bagel. The bagel was nice enough, and it came stuffed with a rather nice chicken mayo and a little bit of salad. For 4,000 it was definitely a bargain, you rarely find a sandwich that is under 5,000 these days and although it was small I think most people would be satisfied.
TFB true to form opted for the Salmon with cream cheese (6,000), probably because he knew I wouldn’t ask for a bite. He got his salmon on a jalapeno bagel which personally I thought an odd choice but each to their own. I didn’t actually try this, as you know my feelings about salmon well, especially stuff at the cheaper end of the scale. But he said it had a nice flavour, and there was plenty of salmon with a little bit of zing from the red onion. He agree that the bagel was decent for the price, though wouldn’t have noticed that it was jalapeño flavoured.
Overall I cant say its the best bagel I’ve ever had, or even the best one I have had in Seoul, so I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. However if you are in HBC and in need of a sandwich style snack on a budget or fancy picking up breakfast for you and your latest Tinder hook up then its worth swinging by especially if you are up early or on a walk of shame because it opens at 7am.
Brooklyn Bagel Cafe is located at 44 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. Keep walking straight along this street past Phillies and Casablanca, you will see Brooklyn Bagel Cafe up ahead on the right hand side next to 8 Piece. For more information you can visit their facebook page. They are open every day from 7am-8pm.
Despite the cold weather and slow season, new restaurants have been popping up in the hood left right and centre. One of these newbies is Bao Bar, a restaurant located above Nori Table, and Gino’s Pizzeria which is specialising in serving bao buns. As a new spot they invited me along to come and give their menu a try and after seeing some of their food online I really couldn’t resit. The new spot is located on the third floor of the hottest new building in town. Despite it only being finished at the end of last year the place already houses four restaurants, so I’m guessing the rent must be a total bargain (yeah right). The restaurant itself is small but light and airy thanks to the huge floor to ceiling windows taking up one side. The kitchen runs along another wall so you can see what’s going on in there too. The menus come on iPads which I always think is pretty darn cool, but if you are a bit of a technophobe it’s also on a chalk board.
The first item I tried was the Pork Bao (4,900). This little beauty was stuffed with braised pork belly, peanut powder, coriander, and pickled cucumber. This is the most classic version I feel, and very similar to the bao buns I have tasted elsewhere. As soon as I bit into it a loud and resounding Mmm was heard. It may not be very scientific but this is how I like to judge my food, and If it makes me groan with pleasure then its usually a good sign. The pork belly was melt in the mouth and worked perfectly with the other ingredients. It was the ideal mix of sweet, salty and sour. The size is fairly decent and there is plenty of meat inside, you order them in pairs so two should leave you reasonably satisfied, though if you are as greedy as me you may want four.
At the moment there are currently only two bao buns on offer, the other being the Truffle Bao (4,900). This baby was stuffed with mushrooms, parmesan cheese and truffle oil. Again this bao bun was delicious, another total orgasmic Mmm was heard. I honestly would be hard pushed to pick which one I liked more. Nothing gets me going like buttery mushrooms and truffle oil and throw in some parmesan and you have yourself a partay! If you are a fan of mushrooms then this one is a must try. There are a couple more baos on the menu that are set to come soon, including a fried chicken and a spicy lamb which i am dying to try, but so far so good on the baos!
The menu is not just bao buns, they have a couple of asian salads, pasta dishes, and this delicious Buttermilk fried Chicken (18,500). The crispy fried chicken is coated in their own signature sauce which is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. The chicken is a mix of wings and boneless pieces which I really liked and the portion is ample. Our only note was that we would like a creamy dip on the side for dipping, and they obliged us with a small pot of their Caesar salad dressing, which worked quite well.
Lastly we had to try the Truffle Fries (7,500), I mean who can resist fries topped with parmesan cheese and truffle oil. These were pretty much as good as they looked, totally nommy. Crispy and tasty, and a nice flavour of truffles throughout. My companion said she may even like them more than the ones at another of our favourite restaurants, and that is really saying something.
Bao Bar is still a new restaurant but my experience was great, the atmosphere is chilled and laid back and the food was absolutely delicious. Its so great to see that we are getting new food items in the city and I can see bao buns being a big hit with both Koreans and expats. The menu is only going to expand over time so if you are hankering after some yummy buns of meaty goodness go pay them a visit.
Bao Bar is located at 3F 455-47 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6) and exit using the lift. Walk over the bridge and then take a right, follow the road around and you will see Gino’s Pizzeria just ahead on the corner above Nori Table. Walk around the corner past the Gino’s entrance and walk up the stairs and take the lift up to the third floor. For more information you can call them on 02-6012-0780 or check out their facebook page. They are closed on Mondays and open for lunch from 12pm-3pm and for dinner from 5:30pm – 10pm.
Moroccan restaurant Casablanca in Haebangchon is pretty widely regarded as serving Seoul’s best sandwich, if not the world’s. If you have still yet to try it, then stop whatever you are doing right now and go give it a try, you will not be disappointed. Due to its popularity the tiny restaurant has expanded year after year, along with the menu. However owning one restaurant was clearly not enough to the Moroccan brother duo who started the place and they have since cast their net a little wider to include a second location, which is located just across the street in fact.
The new Morococo Cafe has an entirely different menu than flagship store Casablanca. As the restaurant has only been open for about two weeks they are still in their soft opening phase, so the menu is still quite tiny. Since there are only three dishes on the menu and two sides, we figured it would be churlish not to give everything a try. We also decided to get ourselves a glass each of wine, because at 5,000 a glass, why the hell not!
We started the meal with the Carrot Salad (5,000). As salads go this one is pretty banging, if you’ve ever had the carrot salad across the street this is a jazzed up version. The fabulous spice marinated carrots are topped with prunes, toasted almonds and feta cheese, it’s unbelievable, especially for the price. All the flavours and textures just work so well together. If they were open for lunch this is what I would be eating every day.
After the salad we moved on to the main course of Lemon Chicken & Green Olives (11,000). This isn’t my first time tasting this dish, I was lucky enough to try it at pop up event they hosted a few years back. For me this was the star dish of the evening. The tender slow cooked chicken effortlessly fell of the bone and was full of so much flavour, the salty olives complimented the dish perfectly and it was served with freshly baked Moroccan Bread (2,000) to sop up all the left over juices. There wasn’t a speck left in my dish by the time I was finished with it, it was absolutely heavenly.
Four our second main we got the Lamb Kefta Tagine (11,000). Not too dissimilar to the Lamb Shakshuka on the menu across the street. Little lamb meatballs were cooked in tasty spiced tomato sauce, and served with an egg yolk in the middle. This is exactly what you want to be eating right now, warm and filling without being in the slightest bit heavy. If you are a big eater you may want to add a side of their delicious spiced rice too.
Overall I was thrilled with the new Morococo Cafe. The new place exudes just as much warmth and hospitality as Casablanca, and the new menu items are really well priced and flavourful. It’s the perfect week night date spot, or weekend for that matter. I can’t wait to see what else they will add to the menu once they are fully open. I heard a rumour on the grape vine that there may be a lamb shank dish coming soon, which is very exciting indeed as you can never have too much lamb.
Morococo Cafe is located at 45-9 Yongsan-dong, 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. You will see Morococo Cafe a little further up on the right hand side opposite Casablanca. For more information you can call them on 010-4228-8367 or check out their facebook page. They are open from 5pm – 9pm everyday, except Mondays.
I like to consider myself a healthy eater, (seriously lol). I believe in the ying-yang approach, super healthy followed by super unhealthy to create balance in an otherwise unstable world. Now while I spend most of my time looking for Seoul’s more fattening fair, and reserve the healthy stuff for home I do enjoy a nutritious and delicious meal out and about once in a while. For the past few months I have read dozens of good reviews for Root in Hannam-dong, so after putting on some serious weight due to sheer laziness on my part, I figured it was about time I got back on the wagon and gave salads another try.
The cafe is located at the Hannam end of Itaewon, an area I often fail to visit, but hosts a whole load of cute and quirky places. The restaurant is located just off the main drag on the second floor. The place is very white, light and airy, and makes you feel virtuous just walking into it. It also has a mix of indoor and outdoor seating which is a real rarity in this city. I’m sure come summer this place will be a packed to the rafters with sun worshippers try to get their beach bodies in shape.
The menu is located up at the counter where you will need to order your food, and has a mix of salads, sandwiches and Korean inspired dishes. After much humming and hawing I decided to order the Avocado Toast (8,500), since both of my dining companions had ordered salads. I really liked this dish a lot, I mean avocado and poached eggs is always a winner, and it came served on a lovely thick slice of toast. The bacon added a nice saltiness, and the cherry tomatoes a little acidic zing. My only complaint is that I wish the portion was double the size, but if you are a light eater this is ideal. Slap a mimosa on the side and you’ve got brunch, although as Root doesn’t serve alcohol you will have to bring your own!
As well as my Avocado toast I thought I would treat myself to a smoothie. They have two on the menu and I went for Orange, Banana, and Greek Yogurt (6,500). This was really disappointing, first the way it was served was just quite sad. They make an extra effort to put their water in biodegradable cups then serve their rather expensive smoothies in cheap plastic cups. The whole thing was utterly tasteless too, I was so uninspired I could barely bring myself to take a photo of it. Be sure to give it a miss.
One of my dining companions went for the Green Bowl (12,500). A mix of chicken, kale, romaine, avocado, cherry tomato, Parmesan cheese, Parmesan chips, and Caesar dressing. Honestly this was alright, but nothing to write home about, it was a nice enough salad, with a good ratio of ingredients but it didn’t really have me longing for more. The dressing was a bit wishy-washy too, I like my Ceasar dressing to really sing to my taste buds.
My other gal pal about town ordered the Red Bowl (13,000) which consists of chicken, brown rice, romaine, avocado, corn, black bean, salsa, sour cream, mozzarella and cilantro chipotle dressing. This was definitely my favorite of the two. A little bit more flavour from the dressing but again not a salad I would go out of my way for. She also ordered a bowl of soup on the side, which looked good, and she seemed to enjoy.
Overall I’m not really sure if Root lived up to its hype. I’m certainly happy to see more of this style of restaurant opening in our neighbourhood, though I don’t think the salads here were as good as the ones at nearby What A Salad. I did however enjoy my dish, and I’d be happy to give a few of their sandwiches a try. I’d certainly be open to eating here again if i was making an extra effort to be healthy.
Greek food in Seoul has pretty much been stuck in the dark ages for the last decade. The few restaurants that have been open since the dawn of time in Itaewon rarely change their menus or inspire me to eat their food, and since my favourite place for a gyro, Baby Greek, closed down I’d pretty much given up on eating them and stuck with a good old lamb kebab to satisfy my cravings. However last week it seemed as though a new day may be dawning when Souva opened up in a gigantic second floor restaurant in Gyeongridan. It being located in my hood, I set off with a couple of friends to go give it a try. As stated the place is huge, with a large bar as soon as you walk in and plenty of window seating. The designers have stuck with the typical industrial style chic that most of the local restaurants tend to go for, along with a few colourful nods to Greek culture. I was also pleased to find that the whole menu has been designed by a British/Greek consultant chef, who has worked with some of the biggest names in the cooking world. So far so good.
As soon as I saw that the cocktails were made by Phil of Southside Parlor, I knew they would be good, so I started the eve with the Sunshine Sangria (11,000). The mix of sauvignon blanc, aperol, peach liquor and mixed fruits was sweet, refreshing and exactly what you will want to be drinking this spring. I also tried the Zeus Almighty (13,000), made with rosemary gin, blood orange cordial, Campari, and pomegranate soda. If you enjoy a Negroni you will probably be a fan of this, its slightly less bitter cousin. It was very easy to drink, I had practically finished it by the time the food arrived.
After perusing the menu we decided to split a couple of dishes between us, and the first one to come out was the Trio of Dips (14,000). From left to right there is harissa hummus, whipped feta, and tzatziki. We were also given an ample supply of pita. This is not usually worth mentioning but I don’t know how many times I’ve been to restaurants in Seoul where they have seriously got the ratio of dip to dippables completely wrong. My favourite of the bunch by a mile was the tzatziki, this is the best tzatziki I’ve had in a long time. It was so thick, creamy, and flavourful from the herbs with a nice bit of tang from the lemon. It was also extremely thick. Good Greek yogurt is hard to find here, or very expensive to make. However this stuff was stiffer than a hard…. The feta dip too was nice, very salty from the feta so you didn’t need a lot of it. The hummus was not bad either, nothing to write home about but it did the job. The pita bread was great though, it was just so soft and fresh. I was told it comes from a local bakery, I’m guessing the bakers table, but I could be wrong.
I always enjoy a salad, especially one that comes with Halloumi, so we opted for the Halloumi, Pomegranate, Edamame and Carrot Salad(13,000). Some of my favourite ingredients were in this so I was excited. Presented it looked pretty enough but in retrospect the salad would have been easier to eat if the halloumi was cut into smaller pieces. While there was nothing wrong with the salad per se, it just seemed to be lacking, and I don’t think we even finished it in the end. This was not the first carrot salad I ate this week and compared to the other, which was a third of the price, this one just couldn’t compete. There were a couple of other salads on the menu, so I would probably try something else next time.
Finally our Lamb Pita (12,000) arrived. This was the dish I was really excited about, being a huge lamb lover and kebabs being one of my favourite takeouts at home. When I bit into it, the lamb was flavourful and super tender, thanks to it being slow cooked. No one wants to gnaw on a gristly hard bit of meat so this was excellent. The pita was thick and pillowy, the sauce tasty and tangy. This really was spot on, and very filling. I’ve never had chips inside my pita before, but I don’t think they really made a huge difference either way. But this was so good, I’m still thinking about it. I will definitely be ordering it again.
Overall I was pretty impressed with this place, it’s a much more modern take on Greek food than what we have been used to. I’m glad Greek food in Seoul is finally getting a bit of life breathed into it. The cocktails were tasty and strong, while being reasonably priced and the food was pretty tasty for the most part. The space is huge, so it will be perfect for large groups, and if it stays busy it should be a fun venue to eat in. I’m sure if this place proves to be popular we can only expect to see more Greek restaurants opening which is never a bad thing.
Souva is located at 668 Itaewon 2(i)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station(line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight and take the underpass across the road. Take the left stairs up and follow the road around the corner Souva is on the second floor a little way along the Gyeongridan main street. For more information you can check out their website or call them on 070-8610-0277.
Every since I was 10 years old and I visited Marco Pierre White’s Criterion, I have had a penchant for fine dining. While it is a hobby I can not afford to practice as much as I would like, it is a passion none the less. Seoul is certainly a youngster in this arena, however big steps have been made in the last few years, with Seoul even getting its own Michelin guide at the end of 2016. One of those stars was awarded to Jungsik, which has always been highly regarded as one of Seoul’s best restaurants. I actually got my first taste of Chef Jungsik Yim’s food when I visited their bar, which is located downstairs. But Valentines Day provided me my boyfriend, with the perfect excuse to splash out and finally get to try a whole meal.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, though we opted for the former. There are three different set menus available at at lunch, a four course for 60,000 per person, a five course for 80,000 per person or an eight course tasting menu for 150,000 . As it was lunch we decided to just stick with the four course. The meal comes with an appetiser, a rice course, a fish or meat course, and a dessert. However as it was a super fancy meal an amuse bouche was also included. And as amuse bouches go, this one was pretty impressive. There were five different elements within the dish. A corn dog, or at least their fancy take on it, fried potato on a stick, a salmon ice cream cone, a rice and seaweed wrap and a radish and fish pancake. A great way to kick off the meal. It being a special occasion and all, we also ordered a bottle of champagne, well, Cava (60,000), but it all looks the same in the glass. The wine list was actually pretty large and the prices were fairly reasonable. Considering what some bars in Itaewon charge, their prices were not bad at all.
No sooner than the champagne selfies had been taken, our first courses arrived. My starter was pretty much my idea of food heaven. The simply titled “Mushroom” left a lot to the imagination, but all was revealed when it was presented to me. Nestled under a forest of delicious buttery mushrooms was a crispy egg. Once I broke through its crunchy exterior a golden yolk oozed out and provided the perfect sauce for the mushrooms. It was exquisite.
My beloved instead chose the crispy octopus with gochujang aioli (10,000 won surcharge). This dish was similar to one of the dishes we enjoyed at the bar on our previous visit. As you can see, it was a visually stunning dish. This is the kind of plating I yearn to learn.The aioli had a hint of spice to it without being overpowering, while the meaty piece of tentacle had a crispy outside. Personally I liked mine the best, but he suffers from an intense dislike of mushrooms, and so preferred his.
After the appetisers we were given the rice course. I opted for the kimbap, while TFB tried the Aromatic rice with barley and perilla oil. Both dishes were beautifully presented but the kimbap really stole the show in terms of flavour thanks to the kimchi tartar sauce, and the crunchiness of the seaweed. I thought this to be the most traditional of the dishes we tried, and really incorporated a lot of the most popular Korean flavours.
For our main we both selected the lamb with ginger vinaigrette as it’s one of our favourite meats, but this was probably the least favourite dish of the meal for me. The lamb had been cooked very slowly but there really wasn’t much flavour and the texture was a bit amiss. TFB in particular likes his lamb “lamby” and was a little disappointed. The dish was not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it just lacked a bit of oomph.
Luckily we ended on a high note with a collection of desserts. The Cheongdam Pie, aka apple pie, was pretty special. Caramel sauce, apple puree, and ice cream were layered upon two crispy biscuits. It was a total “Mmm” moment. We also tried the Dolhareubang, a green tea mousse concoction that is their signature dessert. Let’s face it is kind of a work of art. The sesame coated man, in the shape of one of Jeju’s famous Hareubang, was filled with green tea and chocolate ganache. He was rather delicious indeed.
Overall I’d say that Jung Sik just about met my expectations, and we had a very enjoyable lunch. It’s the ideal date restaurant for when you want somewhere special. It’s really exciting to see Korean ingredients used in this way, so I’m glad I finally got to try it. By the time we polished off our coffee and petit fours, we were pleasantly full. The bill came in at just under 200,000 which I thought was good considering we had a bottle of bubbly too. The menu is the same for both the lunch and the dinner service, except the lunch is about half the price, so take that into consideration if you are on a budget. You could also try eating at the bar downstairs if you are unable to get a reservation, as they offer a lot of the restaurants most popular dishes, and a very large selection of wines by the glass.
Jung Sik is located at 11 Seollungro 158-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Apgujeong Rodeo (yellow line) and come out of exit 4. Walk straight for one block and then turn left. The restaurant is on your left hand side, and the restaurant is the second floor. For more info/reservations you can call them on +82 2 517 4654, or visit their website. Reservations are taken up to one month in advance and are recommended.
Last weekend was the Korea Travel Expo at COEX mall. The four day event gave visitors the chance to learn everything there is to know about travel within Korea. Each of the 9 provinces, and various travel related organisations hosted booths, so they were able to show off the beauty that the land of the morning calm has to offer.
Like most of the expos held at COEX, the exhibition was gigantic, with several hundred different kiosks offering information and interactive experiences. One of our favourites was this pottery making station from Ulsan. Visitors were welcomed to make their own cups and vases, which they were then able to take home. They brought the wheel to help promote their pottery festival which happens in May.
Another popular booth was the perfume making from Namhae province. For 3,000 won per person you could your own perfume from all the different fragrance notes they had available. I’ve never made my own perfume before so this was lots of fun. and now I have my own fantastic fragrance,
One of the largest sections of the event was the edible one, which is of course where I spent most of my time. Almost every area of the country offered up a chance to buy the traditional dishes they are most famous for. There was wine from GyeongSang Buk-do, Kimchi from Yeosu, along with dried octopus, cheese, grains, pickled and dried fish, and the famous Jeju chocolate.
I have visited most of the different provinces over my years in korea, but there are always new and exciting places to discover. For such a small country there are so many different things to see and do, and having an event like this was the perfect way to find out more about them.
The event has finished for this year, but if you would like to visit or set up your own booth at the next one you can find more information on the Travel Expo website (Korean only) or visit their facebook page.
There aren’t many things I’ll get my lazy ass out of bed for on a Sunday, but brunch is certainly one of them. And last weekend I managed to drag myself and my friends all the way across town to the new and trendy Hongdae suburb Yeonnam-dong. Its not my first trip to that side of town, I’ve already written about French Bistro L’Empreinte, but it has been a while since my last visit. This area is pretty popular right now and many of the places we passed on the way there had big queues in front of them so we had our fingers crossed that we would get a seat at Bagel MTL.
Luckily when we arrived we found there was plenty of space inside Bagel MTL, though it was packed by the time we left at 2pm so try and get there a little earlier if you want to guarantee a seat. The cafe cum restaurant is super cute, with a couple of small tables, a huge communal one and a comfy seating area. it’s just the kind of place you want to spend a lazy weekend in.
The menu boasts about a dozen different kinds of topped bagels, there seems to be plenty of different types so there should be something for everyone. Orders are placed up at the counter to make things easier, so don’t sit down and expect them to come to you. If you are buying a bagel you can add a refillable filter coffee for an extra 1,000 won, how amazing is that? It’s just cheap, run of the mill, filter coffee, but at that price who cares?
Seeing as it was brunch, I ordered the B.E.A (8,000) which is bacon, a egg and arugula. The bagel arrived beautifully presented and I couldn’t wait to get tucked into it. Now I’m no bagel expert, I’ve eaten a my fair share, but this is my first time trying the Montreal style. Apparently the hole is bigger they are sweeter and denser. These babies are made in house which I think says a lot for the place. I especially enjoyed the bacon, I’m not sure what they did to it, but it had been smoked or coated in something delicious. The peppery arugula was a nice addition and the soft boiled eggs made it into a proper brunch. The bagel was slightly hard to eat because of all the topping but that’s a small quibble. I also enjoyed that the bagels came with a small side salad, nothing fancy but some feta, tomatoes and crunchy celery, it was appreciated.
As well as the B.E.A we got the Chicken & Salsa (9,000). This was a more lunch type bagel but the salsa was tasty and homemade, The chicken was moist and tender, again it was hard to eat without a knife and fork but it was fresh and flavourful. Since we were a menage a trois of brunchers we opted for a Lox with Cream Cheese (10,000) too. I imagine this is a very popular choice, it came topped with red onion and capers and plenty of cream cheese. I had a small nibble but as you know I’m not really into salmon, however everyone else enjoyed it.
As well as the bagels, we also ordered a portion of their Beef & Barley soup (3,000). This is exactly what you want to eat in this weather and the soup was delicious. A good broth filled with proper chunks of vegetables, beef, and barley. I imagine it would be very good with a bagel dipped into it.
Overall I was very impressed with Bagel MTL and shall certainly be returning. The atmosphere was warm and inviting and the food delicious and more importantly homemade. The price was right too, brunch and coffee for under 10,000 is a rare find these days. They also do a take out orders for those who prefer breakfast in bed. Be sure to give this place a try before it gets super trendy and has a never ending queue.
Bagel MTL is located at 223-21 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Hongdae (line 2), and come out of exit 3. Walk straight along the paved park type area, then take the the fourth main road to the right. Walk straight along this road, you will see Bagel MTL just up ahead on the left hand side. For more information you can call 02-322-9288 them on or check out their facebook page. They are open from from 10am-9pm and closed on Tuesdays.