Tag: korea

Buttermilk Biscuit Co

Last night I headed over to Apgujeong to meet up with some old friends. After consulting my trusty list of places I want to eat at we settled upon new kid on the block Buttermilk Biscuit Co. Being a Brit I can’t say I’m really a huge fan of ‘biscuits’. Where I come from they are called scones, and we eat them with clotted cream and jam not fried chicken. However since I’ve been in Korea my tastes have become more exotic, so I threw caution to the wind and went off to give ‘American food’ a try.

The diner like restaurant is located in the rather posh neighbourhood of Apgujeong. It is just a short walk from exit 4, on a little street I’ve never had cause to walk down before. The place is quite spacious in appearance but only has seating for about 12 as the large open plan kitchen takes up a fair amount of the space. Unsurprisingly biscuits are the star attraction of the menu. You can either buy them separately or eat them with a variety of different sauces and toppings.  We were slightly torn over what to try but thankfully settled on three options thanks to their picture menu.

First up was the Southerner (9,500). A buttermilk biscuit topped with sauteed onions, fried chicken, bacon, eggs, cheese and country gravy. This is pretty much what I always imagined a  proper ‘merican’ southern breakfast to be. A mini mountain of fried food was presented, and I was surprised at how ungreasy it was. I’ve never been much of a fan of American gravy (I certainly wouldn’t put it on my roast beef that’s for damn sure), but I was actually quite partial to this one. It wasn’t overly salty and I appreciated having the thick sauce to eat alongside the biscuit. I’m no biscuit expert but this one seemed pretty decent, moist in the middle with a crisp exterior. The fried chicken was solid too, nice and crunchy on the outside while still being juicy in the middle. Not bad at all.

Second up was the Steak & Cheese Hash (14,000).  A mix of seasoned steak, onions, peppers, cheddar, potatoes, and spicy mayo.  From the picture I was expecting a large hash brown, however what showed up was a big old pile of tater tots. The cheese and steak topped tots went down well, I mean cheese and potato is always a good combo, throw in some nice pieces of steak and a spicy sauce and it is pretty much a party. One of the more expensive items on the menu, due to the steak but we enjoyed them a lot.

Lastly we had the Nashville Hot (9,000). A Cheddar biscuit with sweet compote, jalapeno, spicy fried chicken, and ranch coleslaw. This one was probably my favourite. It has all my favourite things, carbs, fried chicken, coleslaw, and sweet and spicy sauces. Hell to the yeah, this baby is so worth being fat for.

Overall I really enjoyed this place, I’m always looking for something new and this is definitely different. The food was actually pretty great, even to us non Americans. Myself and my Korean friends all really enjoyed it and we left pleasantly full. I also thought the prices were pretty reasonable for the most part too, it is so nice to find a meal around or under the 10,000 mark these days. I’ll certainly be heading back next time I’m in Apgujeong.

Buttermilk Biscuit Co is located at 566-14, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Apgujeong Station (line 3) and come out of exit 4. Take the right immediately after the exit and then take the first left. Walk five blocks then turn right at the 7-11. Buttermilk Biscuit Co is a little way down this street on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 025153964 or check out their facebook page. They are closed only on Tuesdays, open at 11:30am -7:00pm  and take a break from 3pm – 4pm.

Trench Town

I’m not going to lie, I know little to nothing about Caribbean food, despite it being a reasonably popular cuisine in Britain. However when I heard a new Caribbean restaurant had opened up in Itaewon I was damn eager to give it a try. Trench Town is located on ‘Furniture Road’, or ‘Taco Bell Street’ as I like to call it. It’s located in an old furniture shop a little down the way from Itaewon Station. As it’s a little set back from the main road you could easily miss it, but hopefully the beach-hut-like fringe and neon sign will alert you to its presence.

Once inside the restaurant is pretty roomy, with a fun beach side themed bar taking prominence in the entry way. This reminded me of how much I needed a drink so we soon got to ordering. Rum cocktails make up the menu, and boy oh boy are they darn tasty. After two visits I have had pretty much tried all of the drinks on the menu and they are all pretty awesome. The Hurricane (13,000) is probably my favourite, not only is it a fruity blend of Plantation rum, lime, orange juice and passion fruit syrup, but it also comes topped with the most adorable little broken umbrella on the top. However I also have a lot of love for the Dark and Stormy (10,000) and the Mai Tai (12,000). They have a killer rum section for sure, I’ve not seen anywhere else that has a supply to rival it. if you are really into rum you can buy it by the bottle too.

As it is still in soft opening phase the menu is quite small. They serve a couple of individual plates which cost between 15,000 – 22,000 and some larger sharing platters which are more. Being a larger group we decided to get one each of the platters for two. First up were the Jerk Ribs (38,000) which come with a big mound of coconut rice and beans, coleslaw, and a side of gravy. I enjoyed these a lot, they were tender and smokey, while the meat on the ribs came away easily from the bone without falling off. The Jerk sauce was good too, not enough to burn, but enough heat to make your lips tingle.

The second platter we ordered was the Trench Town Platter (34,000). This one came with jerk chicken, curry goat, more rice, and the three sides of your choice. We opted for the dumplings, fries, and coleslaw with this one. Jerk chicken is probably the most famous Jamaican dish. If you’ve had and liked the Jamaican sandwich at Rye Post you’ll be in for a treat, as the owners are the same. The chicken was tender and flavourful without being too spicy, as I have not had it before I don’t really have anything to compare it too but we liked it, though not quite as much as the ribs. Also on this platter is the Goat Curry, again this was my first time trying it and I was reasonably impressed. The curry was flavourful without being too hot, and the goat meat was tender. There were a few too many bones in it for my liking, though I’d imagine goat is not one of the easiest ingredients to get hold of so the supply is probably limited. The star side for me were the dumplings, they remind me of a chicken ball without the chicken. I kind of wish they had something inside but they were moreish none the less.

Last up was the Reggae Platter (32,000) which came with tiger shrimps, lamb chops and the choice of three sides. The lamb chops were my favourite on this one by far. They were glazed with an incredibly tamarind glaze which was addictively good. The meat was so soft and juicy while the fat was perfectly cooked. They are probably some of the best lamb chops I have ever eaten in Korea, I was gnawing on those bones like I hadn’t eaten in weeks. You can actually get these as a side order too, so be sure to add them on if you end up going for one of the other platters. The shrimps were nice enough too, though not as remarkable as some of the other dishes. On this platter we tried the plantains and sweet potato fries too, which I also enjoyed, they would make it into the top three side dishes along with the dumplings, though you know I am a sucker for anything deep fried.

Overall I was really impressed with his place, it is not always easy to find places where the cocktails are as good as the food, but this ticked all my boxes. The prices are a touch steep if there are just two of you eating, but if you are a big group then it works out quite nicely.  We all left happy, and if you are looking to try something new this weekend then Trench Town should hit the spot.

Trench Town is located at 105 Bogwang-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul.  To get there take a train to Itaewon Station and come out of exit 4. Turn back on yourself and walk down the ‘Taco Bell Street’. Keep walking down this street past all of the furniture shops. You will see Trench Town on the right hand side, just before you get to the fork in the road. For more information you can call them on 027949992 or checkout their facebook page. They are open Tue-Sunday from 5:30pm-10:30pm, although they are planning to open for lunch in the near future.

Hilton Hotel – Kota Kinabalu

If you have been reading this blog regularly and following me on Instagram and YouTube then you’ll be well aware that I have been living it up In Kota Kinabalu, Borneo. While we enjoyed a sumptuous stay at the beautiful Rasa Ria Resort, we also enjoyed a few days in the city. We were lucky enough to be offered a stay at the brand spanking new Hilton Hotel. This place is so new you can still smell the paint, it has only been open for just a few short months but is already one of the hottest hotels in town.

The team at the Hilton hooked us up with the most fabulous one bedroom suite. It was awesome, this place was even bigger than my apartment back in Seoul. There was a gigantic bed, double sink bathroom with a bath and a shower, dressing room, living room with two TV’s, office, dining room, and a guest bathroom. Like seriously, it kinda made me wish we had friends to invite over and show off to. had there been more of the two of us it would have been a great spot to host a party.

After the most relaxing night sleeping in our incredibly big King sized bed, we headed down to try the breakfast. Although I do enjoy the elegance of a private breakfast, we decided to have breakfast in the main restaurant Urban Kitchen instead of the club lounge, as my greedy self just couldn’t resist seeing what was on offer at the breakfast buffet. I have eaten at a hell of a lot of hotel buffets and this one was pretty epic. There was a killer baked goods section with everything you could want and more, including sprinkled, pink, Homer Simpson style donuts! There were also fresh fruits, juices and smoothies, cereal, yogurt, deli meats, cheese and salads, a western breakfast hot style buffet which included eggs to order, as well as an Asian hot section which is where I spent most of my time. Nothing makes me happier than eating spring rolls, fried noodles, and curry for breakfast. Honestly it was kind of amazing how many different dishes were there, I can’t imagine ever getting bored. I also loved the fact that they included local dishes within the menu too, it was nice to see another sota station, clearly these fresh bowls of noodle soup are the go to breakfast in Borneo.

One of the hotels best features is the fabulous roof top pool. The pool is surrounded by lovely comfy sun beds for you to laze the day away on. There are also tonnes of sumptuous sofas and day beds in the shade for those who burn easily (I’m looking at you TFB). As well as the beautiful pool, the rooftop has a pretty incredible view,  in fact it was so hard to peel ourselves away for lunch we ended up ordering a couple of burgers from the restaurant and staying put. Food and drinks delivered to my daybed, that really is living the dream as far as I’m concerned. As well as the pool, the hotel also boasts a big ass gym and sauna. Not that I would ever use it for anything other than picking up free bottles of water, but I appreciate having it there.

On our first night we enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Rooftop Bar & Grill. We were pretty knackered from all the travelling we had done, so decided to get dinner in the hotel.  The menu has a very Australian feel about it with lots of surf and turf like options. I decided to try Sabah Green Tailed Lobster (98MYR) which was served with buttered mushrooms, mixed salad, fired courgette flowers and pea puree. I never turn down lobster, when given the chance to eat it, and I really loved the way it was served with pureed peas. It was like an uber posh fish and chips. TFB true to form got himself a big ass steak. The 350g Black Angus (220MYR) if I’m not mistaken. The steak was served with proper fat chips, which I have longed for them ever since. Our dinner ended with a chocolate brownie with popping candy and celebrity sighting (sort of). At the next table was Dereck of The Holidaze, another travel blogger and perpetual nomad who filled us in on all his Borneo adventures. What a night!

As we were staying in a one bed suite we had access to the exclusive Executive Club lounge. As an executive business woman who does important executive business it is always nice to have a special place to do that. The open plan kitchen is stocked with free drinks and snacks for you to enjoy until your heart is content, however the party really gets started between 5pm-7pm as they offer free cocktails and canapes too. It’s a great way to unwind after a hard day of eating and lying by the pool. It was not my first time enjoying this kind of service but boy did we get our money worth (not that we paid, but you get the idea). I relaxed over Moscow Mules while my beloved enjoyed a refreshing beer or six. There was also a well stocked pre-dinner dining section. The food was different each night but some of the most memorable items were dumplings, curry, fried rice and noodles, as well as a dazzling array of mini cakes and desserts. You could easily skip dinner and fill up here if you liked, though as a diligent and hard working food blogger, I would never skip a meal.

Overall I can’t recommend this hotel enough, if you are looking for a luxurious stay in the city that wont break the bank then this is it. The location is fabulous (next door to the famous Welcome Seafood restaurant), and it’s close to the airport if you have an early or late flight. If you have the funds then I would definitely recommend upgrading to the club level, especially if you eat and drink as much as we do.  Rooms start at 400 MYR per night. For more information or to book a room please visit the hotel website.

Ferry Roasters

If there is one thing that Seoul has no shortage of, it is coffee shops. Seoulites absolutely adore coffee and seem to spend an awful lot of time hanging out in their favourite cafes. So it is no surprise that the city is practically bursting with dozens of cute and quirky places to get a caffeine fix. And before I set off on my travels, I found the most charming one just next to my house that I couldn’t resist sharing with you.

The boat themed coffee shop is conveniently located opposite the fabulous Cre8 Cookies, making it the perfect place to grab a drink after picking up some baked goods, however the nautical theme is not the only specialty, they also serve the world’s most delightful donut topped coffees, yes donut topped coffee! You can have your donut and drink it too. The menu is quite small but I tried a couple of their specialty drinks along with a dozen of their marvelous mini donuts. I placed my order and went up to their fabulous roof top to enjoy the glorious weather that we were having. Though if you don’t like the sun, they have a more covered outdoor space on the main floor, or inside seating.

After about 20 minutes my order finally showed up, and thankfully it was worth the wait. The first thing I tried was the Salted Caramel Latte (6,900), I’m usually a vanilla latte kinda a girl, but the melted marshmallow topping on this coffee was too much to resist. I was at first concerned that the coffee would be too sweet for my liking however it was far saltier than sweet and mixed with the strong coffee it was actually quite tasty. The frothy melted mashmallows added a hint of sweetness and it was actually quite refreshing. So far so good.

My second coffee, yes I was all alone and couldn’t decide what to get so thought I’d treat myself to two instead, was the Tube Latte (6,500). This is the delightful little Homer Simpson donut topped coffee. You can have this served hot or cold, and in this weather over ice seemed very logical. This one was not at all sweet, I’m guessing that’s why there is a donut on top. It was incredibly precious and the coffee was strong, but I need my latte a touch sweeter than this so would ask for some vanilla syrup next time. It was also on the small side, so I’m glad I had two.

It being a weekend and all, I figured I would treat myself to a dozen their adorable mini donuts. There are two different flavours, cinnamon sugar, and basil parmesan. I decided to try both and got a half order of each (7,500). Donuts are a rare find in this city, at least outside of the big chains. These were made there and then on the spot, which accounted for my 20 minute wait. I loved having a mix of sweet and savoury, it is the best of both worlds. The cinnamon sugar were soft and fluffy in the middle while the savoury basil parmesan were addictively good and probably my favourites of the day, whoever thought of putting parmesan in a donut is a genius!

Overall I thought this pace was fab and I will probably come again to hang out on the roof top and grab some donuts. It is not the cheapest coffee in the neighbourhood but if you are looking for something a bit different or a cute place to meet friends than this is it.

Ferry Roasters is located at 225-22 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight until you reach the underpass, go through and exit using the stairs on the left hand side. Follow this road around passing the church and Paris Baguette, walk up the hill towards the Hyatt. After you pass the Happy Store keep an eye out for an alleyway on the right hand side and you will see Ferry Roasters on your left, just past Cre8 Cookies. For more information you can call them on 02-6015-2022. They are open Tuesday – Sunday 12:30pm -9pm.

10 Must Eats in Sabah, Borneo

As you may have seen from my instagram feed, we have been relaxing and enjoying a fabulous vacation on the beautiful island of Borneo. Borneo is famed for its luscious rain-forests, wildlife, and monkeys, but it also has some incredible food. While our time was short and we didn’t get to try as many dishes as we would have liked, we were lucky to have more than enough to make a top ten.

1. Satay – Satay is probably one of Malaysia’s most famous dishes, and for very good reason, it’s bloody delicious! You can find good satay pretty much everywhere but we were lucky enough to have our resort’s head chef prepare some us specially. The delicious little sticks of meat, usually chicken or beef, are cooked with handful of spices and lemongrass and then barbecued to give them their unique flavour. They are then served with a scrummy dipping sauce usually made with coconut and peanuts among other things.

2. Butter Tiger Prawns – Tiger prawns are a specialty in Sabah, because they are found locally. They also grow to a humungous size, thanks to the great conditions of the Mengkabong river.  We tried them two ways, wet and dry. While the wet sauce was absolutely divine, it did make them very hard to eat if you didn’t want to spit out the shells. I have no idea what the etiquette of eating them is, but I preferred to get my hands messy and de-shell them before eating them.

3. Sota – At both of our fantastic hotels, they offered Sota for breakfast which was a delicious local noodle dish. A selection of different noodles were available then we added the different vegetables and meats. If you are fan of noodle soups then you are sure to want to give this Indonesian classic one a try.

4. Nasi Goreng- This fried rice dish is again one the most popular dishes to eat and you should come across it in many varieties, usually served with crackers and topped with a fried egg. This can be eaten anywhere from street food stalls to high end restaurants.

5. Tuaran Mee – Tuaran Mee is Sabah’s signature noodle dish, so you can’t leave the area without giving this fried noodle dish a try. We were lucky enough to be able to make them during our cooking class it is made from egg noodles, shrimp or chicken, and stir fried vegetables. Again we found this pretty much everywhere we went and never turned down an opportunity to eat it.

6. Soft Shell Crabs – Soft shell crabs are always one of my favourite things to eat although they aren’t so popular in England where I am from. So when I found out that they are one of the specialties at the Welcome Seafood restaurants in Kota Kinabalu, I was very eager to give them a try. There were delightfully small and I think we all know how I feel about deep fried anything. A huge pile came with a sweet and sour dipping sauce and were the perfect snack while we supped a few afternoon beers.

7. Bajaus Coffee and Teacakes – This is not widely available but if you get the chance to take a tour down the Mengkabong river to visit the Bajaus ‘sea gypsy’ village then you do not want to miss out on trying their delicious sweet rich coffee and little fried pancakes. We also had a sweet young coconut to refresh us. Click here to see a full video of our amazing experience along the river.

8. Tuhau Fried Chicken – If there is one dish that is found in abundance in Borneo, it’s fried chicken. Man I thought South Korea loved its chicken shops but that was before I came to KK, there is one on practically every street corner. There are many different varieties, but we were lucky enough to find a local Tuhau version. Not too dissimilar to the Korean one as the chicken is cut into small pieces, bones included, battered and deep fried. It seemed extra dry and and extra crispy, we ate ours with a side of sambal which was the the perfect spicy dipping sauce.

9. D’Place – If you want to try a whole host of local Sabah food then the buffet at D’Place is not to be missed. They have an incredible range of meat dishes, curries, sides, salads, sauces and desserts all of which make great use of the local produce. Some of the dishes we tried wrapped red barrio rice, wild mango chicken, fried basung fish, sago, and stir fried Borneo fern leaves with garlic. The food was full of flavour and unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. We were even lucky enough to catch the dance show which happens each evening. The menu changes daily, but you wont be disappointed, especially as it only cost around $10 per person.

10. Butod – One of the most famous local specialties are the little wiggly wormy sago grubs. We had heard about these babies throughout our trip and finally got to face our fears when we visited D’Place who actually have a tank filled with them. After seeing them up close and personal I had to wimp out. Sorry guys, but they were still alive and I just couldn’t.  Most people eat them raw but they also offered as a pizza topping, but even that wasn’t enough to persuade me to give them a try.

Nekkid Wings

Passing through Itaewon a few weeks ago I came across a mural of a naked man, so of course I used the opportunity to take some hilarious selfies. Also in the picture was what looked like a brown splodge, and it finally clicked a few days later that this was the home of Nekkid Wings. The newest addition to Itaewon’s restaurant scene is the cool and fun restaurant specialising in, you guessed it, chicken wings.

The restaurant is located in the myriad of alleyways just by Linus’ BBQ. The restaurant is in quite a large space and it was packed on the weekend night we visited. It’s best to go with friends as all the wings are served on huge platter like boards. The menu offers wings by themselves but we opted to go for the Double Platter (28,000) which comes with 20 wings, 2 sides, 2 celery and carrot sticks and 2 dips. Being a large group we also got the Party Platter (56,000) which is 40 wings, 4 sides, 3 celery and carrot sticks and 3 dips. These two happily fed seven of us.

There are a whopping 11 different flavours of sauce on the menu and I am sure they are set to add more. One thing I also appreciated was that you can choose a different flavour per 5 wings that you order, so even if you are going for a simple 10 you still get to try two different kinds. The wings themselves have a crispy exterior and have juicy white meat inside.We tried virtually every flavour on the menu and the firm favourites of the large group were the buffalo and the BBQ but that is to be expected. More out there flavours we liked were the Amazinger, a kind of Yangnyum type, and the Mandarin which was my personal favourite. Honestly the only one we didn’t care for was the Korean style ,probably because of the doenjang, which kind of ruined the flavour for me.

The wing platters come with sides, and we of course tried them all. The big onion ring was my favourite, it’s not made from a giant onion but lots of small chopped up onions, breaded and deep fried. It was delish. The shoe string fries were also decent but nothing memorable, the hand cooked crisps were my least favourite. There are also two dips available, a ranch and blue cheese. The ranch was from a bottle and tasted a little sickly and artificial, but the blue cheese on the other hand was made in house and much better, hopefully they will sort out the ranch in time because I consider it to be a very important part of the wing experience.

There are a variety of craft beers on the menu which vary between 6,000 – 8,000 and they also have a signature cocktails on the menu called Nekkid Sour(7,500). I of course gave it a try and was delightfully surprised. The rosemary, gin, and earl grey concoction was a refreshing blend of sweet and sour, not to dissimilar to a long island ice tea.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by Nekkid Wings and I shall certainly go again. It’s something new and different and is perfect for large groups. We all left full and happy and that is good enough for me.

Nekkid Wings is located at 174-11, Noksapyeong-daero, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station (line 2) and come out of exit three. Walk straight and then cross left over to Itaewon at the crossing. Go down the alleyway ahead on the left and walk straight. For more information you can call them on 010-5891-7411 or check out their facebook page. They are open everyday except Monday from 11:30am – 11:30pm, with a break from 3pm-4pm on weekdays. 

Mangwon Food Crawl

Last weekend was absolutely beautiful and I used the good weather as an excuse to get out of the house and the hood to go and explore another part of this city I call home. For the best part of year I have been hearing wonderful things about the uber trendy neighbourhood Mangwon. Yet, despite it only being a 20 minute subway ride away, I always failed to get over there and check it out. For those not in the know, like I was, you are seriously missing out, this place is jam packed with cute and quirky cafes, stores, and restaurants. It’s kind of like what Haebangchon and Gyeongridan use to be like. The streets are quite spread out, but there is plenty to see once you head out of exit 2. I’ve listed five of my favourite places that we visited. though I’m sure there are thousands more to discover so I’ll be heading back soon to see what else there is.

We kicked off our morning with a coffee at Social Club Seoul. This is one of the coolest concept coffee shops I have ever come across, in the middle of the room is a giant table strewn with the detritus from a fancy dinner party. Think chandeliers and tea sets, then there’s a counter to the side where you order and they make the coffees. That’s it, they have simply built this in an old ripped out store front and people are going nuts for it. This place is selfie city, I think at one point every single person in the joint was taking one, myself included. I think the real draw to the place are their amazing, decadent, and delicious coffees. They have two signatures which we decided to try, and being an ice vanilla latte girl, I had to get the Short Cream Vanilla (6,000), while my girl Laura tried the Mocha on the Rock (6,000). Mine had ice cubes made from sweetened vanilla cream which just made it the most rich and decadent drink ever, while Laura’s mocha had coffee ice cubes and chocolate at the bottom, the more they melted the stronger it got. They were both pretty epic and it was just what we needed before heading to the next stop. One note, when we passed by again later in the day there was a definite queue so go before 12pm to avoid the crowds.  Social Club Seoul is located at 414-27 Mangwon-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul . Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

After coffee we were in need of breakfast so we headed to Sally Cheong to try one of her delightful fruit and yogurt bowls. I’m a healthy kind of girl (some of the time) so this was exactly what I was longing for. The menu is all in Korean but it is pretty easy to figure out. The bowls of yogurt come with different kinds of fruit and muesli and are adorably cute and only 6,000 won each. The yogurt is made in house and the fruits change with the season but there should at least be a couple of options available. As well as the yogurt and fruit bowls they also have plenty of drinks available, like some home made ades and a ginger milk. We had just enjoyed a coffee so didn’t partake but they looked great. Sally Cheong is located at 21 Worldcup-ro 23-gil Mapo-gu, Seoul . Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

Our next stop was Viva Salon (비바쌀롱), one of my followers tagged me in an Instagram post for this place and I couldn’t resist coming to see it. I mean look at the adorably cute Cookie Monster Latte, I am still living for it, almost a week later. Also pictured is the Coconut Smoothie topped with a rubber ducky. The whole cafe is toy themed and the place is decked out with all kinds of cute and kitsch paraphernalia. It’s a must see. The Cookie Monster Latte was 5,900 and really tasty, as was the Coconut Smoothie (5,800) though we did add a large splash or vodka to it to kick it up a notch. Viva Salon is located at 84 Poeun-ro, Mangwon 1(il)-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

After all those drinks we were ready for lunch and came across Happy Burger. The line was long but the smell coming from the kitchen was too much to resist, so we wrote our name down on the list and went to get ourselves another GS cocktail while we waited. In 20 minutes our table was free and we both got ourselves a big ass burger and a side of fries. The burgers here were pretty impressive. I got the Double Cheese Bacon Burger (8,500) which was topped with bacon, double cheese and caramelised onions. The bun came came slathered in their homemade garlic mayo which I adored. It was very moreish and the kind of burger you want to inhale. Laura opted the Arugula Burger (8,900) which was equally delish.  This was exactly what we needed after a few too many cocktails, and i will certainly be going again next time I visit. happy Burger is located at 414-83 Mangwon-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul. Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

Lastly, we took a stroll around Mangwon Market to burn off those burgers.  It’s a covered arcade style market with loads of different stalls selling street food , fresh meat, fruits, veggies and other bits and bobs. Living in Itaewon I don’t come across these traditional markets often so it was nice to see, and it’s amazing how cheap some of he prices were. At the end of the market are two famed croquette stalls which had crazy long lines. I was desperate to try one but didn’t have room after that massive burger but next time for sure. Mangwon Market is located at  411 Mangwon-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul. Click the link or see the bottom for my map.

+ 84 – Itaewon

Last week I got some very exciting news +84, a Vietnamese joint I love in Insadong, opened its second branch in Itaewon. What better way to celebrate than with a bowl of delicious Bun Cha. The restaurant is located in behind the main road on the Wolfhound road. They have taken over the spot which used to be occupied by Chinese dumpling place, Chungaeka Dumpling.

The new location is about 3 times bigger than the last one, which is good news to anyone who stood in line waiting to get in at the original. The menu has also grown considerably and quite a few new dishes have been added since my last visit. I should also note that some of the prices have gone up, though considering the size of the new restaurant and its location I am not surprised.

The first thing we ordered was a bowl of their delicious Bun Cha (11,000), as it’s my favourite Vietnamese dish. The bun cha is a sweet and sour kind of cold soup, which is stuffed with veggies and pieces of pork, it’s served with a pile of rice noodles on the side and a heap of salad. I was really excited to eat this again, but I’m not sure if it was quite so flavourful as last time, it was still pretty decent but the meat seemed a little different to me which may have affected the overall flavour. We did however enjoy the addition of the Vietnamese herbs, which we were told were imported and the reason for the price increase, which seems fair. As well as the bun cha, we also ordered a portion of the Fried Spring Rolls (6,000). These were were crispy and delicious, and the perfect side to eat along side the soup.

Being two very big eaters we also decided to get a Bahn Mi on the side. There are several varieties available but we got the grilled pork and lemon grass (7,000). The bread on this baby was excellent, not sure where it comes from but I need to find out! This is the bread that sandwich dreams are made of, it was lusciously crisp on the outside while being lovely and soft in the middle. The grilled pork had tonnes of flavour, and was topped with pickled veggies, sriracha, and a nice drizzle of mayo. This wasn’t the most traditional version on the menu but I liked it. You’d be hard pushed to find someone who’d be unhappy with one of these for lunch.

Overall I am pretty chuffed that +84 have come to party and am looking forward to trying more of the menu over the next few visits. They had only been open for a few days when I visited so I’m sure it will take them a little bit of time to tweak that bun cha until its perfect, but generally I see a lot of promise.

Plus 84 is located at 2F 61 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-Gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon station(line 6) and come out exit 4. Walk straight until you get to Dillinger’s and then take the stairs down to your left. Take a right at the bottom of the stairs and walk along that road. It is on your right hand side. for more information you can call them on 02-797-0838 or check out their facebook page. They are open everyday from 11:30 am -9:30pm.

Ryunique

It has been just over a year since I last visited Chef Ryu’s signature restaurant Ryunique in Sinsa. I have been to its sister restaurant Normal several times since, however it isn’t very often that I am lucky enough to enjoy a meal as sumptuous as the 20 course one here. When they released their new menu I was given the opportunity to go and give it a try. The signature dinner menu does not come cheap, at a cool 230,000 per person, but if you are looking for something really special that will knock your socks off, then this is it.

 

We arrived at the classically chic and inviting restaurant, and were greeted by the very friendly(and rather handsome) Maitre D.  I don’t want to reveal all the secrets that were unravelled, so I’m just going to share my favourite dish or two from each course. Our meal began with a series of amuse bouche courses. The amuse bouches were a real mix but of our four, that’s right four, my favourite was the mackerel which was charcoal cooked on the outside but raw and mixed with sour cream on the inside. It was served with wasabi powder that had been flash frozen in liquid nitrogen. The amuse bouche course finished with the most delightful Korean melon palette cleanser with mint and lime.

 

 

The mushroom course was the star appetizer for me. Served in two parts, the first being lions mane mushrooms that were a mixture of fresh and fried with little pipettes of white truffle mayo. Served along with the Lion’s Mane were the absolutely scrummy black truffle mushroom cookies. The second part of the dish was the fantastic soup. Topped with a mushroom crisp lid, this was a cloud of mushroomy foamy goodness, made even better by the little cheese bubble that melted when popped into the soup.

This season’s signature dish of quail came in two parts. First up was a garlic fed quail breast, which was encrusted with 10 mixed Korean grains, and a jus reduction of quail gravy on the side which was just magically intense(probably because it was made from an entire quail!). It was accompanied by a beetroot puree which added a splash of colour and hint of earthiness and finally the cutest little golden chicken which was made of of potato, to celebrate 2017, the year of the Rooster.

Part two was their fancy take on Samgyetang, one of my favourite Korean soups. Rather than the traditional cloudy broth typically associated with Samgyetang, this version is based on a consomme style clear broth, which was light and full of flavour. A quail leg wrapped in a mustard leaf and a deep fried quail egg sat perched upon a bed of noodles, sweet snap peas, and a mixture of fried and fresh ginseng. It was a great modern representation of a classic Korean dish.

After a series of other main courses, we finished with Chapter 2, a series of desserts, tea, coffee and petit fours. The favourite for us was the pastry chef’s signature dish Stone Texture, no prizes for guessing why. This dish consisted of mandarin ice cream coated in chocolate and black sesame powder, and caramelized chocolate pudding and pistachio. The rock like exterior really hid the soft sweet flavours inside and it was such a delightful surprise at the end of a wonderful meal.

Since my last visit, there have been even more Korean ingredients and elements added to the menu, the map given to us at the beginning of the meal showed us exactly where each of the dishes was sourced from, which I thought a nice touch. As always the creativity and time going into the food blows my mind and if you are looking for something truly special then Ryunique has a lot to offer. If the 230,000 won 20 course dinner is a bit rich for your blood, you may want to try their lunch menu instead which is half the size and price. You can also of course also visit Normal, which is their second, bistro style restaurant located just around the corner.

Ryunique is located at 520-1 SInsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sinsa Station(line 3) and come out of exit 8. Take the first left and then right and quickly left again. Walk about halfway down this road and turn left just before you hit Mr. Holmes Bakery. Ryunique is just 50 metres or so along this street on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-546-9279, or check out their website.

Mango Festival – Hilton Hotel

A food festival is always going to be music to my ears, so when I was invited to come and try the mango festival at the Hilton Hotel, well, I was very excited indeed, number one because I love mangoes and number two because mangoes generally cost an arm and a leg here. Fruit themed buffets are really popular at the hotels here in Korea, and with strawberry season being over and Spring in the air, it is time for mangoes to take centre stage.

I would best describe the event as a mango themed afternoon tea. It costs 45,000 per person which includes access to the buffet for two hours, either 2:30-4:30, or 5:00 – 7:00, and all the mango tea and juice you can drink. The mango festival is located inside the lobby of the hotel rather than in one of their restaurants. Personally I quite enjoyed watching the hordes of guests going by as I’m quite partial a bit of people watching, whereas my friend didn’t appreciate it so much. I guess it depends on whether you like everyone looking at you or not, which I clearly do.

Once we had settled in and enjoyed a relaxing cup or two of tea it was time to check out the food. There was certainly quite a wide array of different sweet goods and a couple of savoury options. There are too many to mention but off the top of my head there were cronuts, mousse, tiramisu, tarts, meringue pie, macarons, vol a vents, cheesecakes, and ice cream. There were also of a couple of savoury options of meat balls and chicken legs which seemed like a bit of an afterthought.

There was plenty to choose from and we ended up trying most of the different items. To me the stand outs were the freshly fried Namsan Cronuts. There was a chef doing a demonstration of how to make them so these were fresh as can be. The cronuts were filled with mango creme patissiere and covered with mango frosting and a fresh strawberry. Being a child of the 80s I was also very happy to see a mango chicken vol a vent, I certainly ate more than my fair share.  I also really enjoyed the slices of fresh mango that were served at the chocolate fountain, I just wish they had more things to dip into it besides the fruit.

In regards to the rest of the offerings I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed. While I thought they offered a good selection of different desserts, they didn’t really do it in terms of flavour for me. They all looked pretty enough, but I would have enjoyed them sweeter and with a more intense mango flavour. I assume that their target audience is Koreans who don’t tend to like their desserts quite so sweet, but for me it was a bit of a miss. I left the buffet before my time was up, which unfortunately kind of says it all.

The Millennium Hilton is located at 50, Sowol-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Seoul Station (lines 1 & 4) and come out of exit 11. Follow the road around and take the third left, then walk straight. you will see the Millennium Hilton on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-753-7788, or visit their website.