{Travel} Chapter 7 Seoul: Food for the soul

We’re down to the final few Korean posts at last. The seventh installment revolves around two essentials – shopping and food. Our shopping hotspots mainly consisted of the tourist-packed Dongdaemun, street vendor-style Namdaemun, the hip and happening Hongdae and finally, the shopper’s heaven Myeongdong.

Street food was abundant, especially around Dongdaemun. An interesting practice common among food vendors was the proud poster and signboard displays of SBS food and travel shows recommending their establishment. Some even boast stillshots from famous Korean dramas.

Street food available ranged from skewers of fish cake and meat to full sized meals of noodles and broth. At Dongdaemun, we soothed our bellies with said skewers while standing around the steaming hotpot. Of course, another serving of hotteok.

Mandu with rice cake and mandu with ramen were the main characters of our breakfast pre-Namdaemun. The ramen had an extra kick of spiciness to keep me warm for the good part of the next hour.

Also a part of our breakfast was the crowd favourite kimbap. Like the Japanese handroll, the kimbap consists of rice and is wrapped in seaweed. And the similarities stop here. The Korean version is oilier with the addition of fragrant sesame oil and choice fillings include burdock, egg, cooked beef strips, kimchi and we also had cheese. I loved it!

At Namdaemun, my shopping spirits were dampened by the pouring rain. As the entire area consisted of open-air streets and tiny shop lots, maneuvering around the place with bags and an umbrella was no easy feat. Something interesting I caught while rambling about the place was a temporary stall selling silkworm pupae. In Korea, the pupae is eaten boiled and seasoned. Having a Korean housemate in Adelaide that completely adored this very queer snack, I had the opportunity to try it from a can. It was… chewey and tasted nutty, an acquired taste I’m sure!

After Namdaemun, we made a beeline for Hongdae, an area renowned for the Hongik University (a women’s university) and of course, a girl’s shopping paradise. But before the spree, we enjoyed the Nanta. Nanta is a long-running musical telling a simple tale of chefs scrambling to prepare a wedding banquet. The performers chop, slash, cook to hip beats and make wonderful music using kitchen utensils. A very interesting and enjoyable experience indeed – highly recommended!

Shopping in Hongdae was a feast for the eyes but a sure crucifix for the wallet as clothes, bags, shoes and other accessories were top quality and absolutely stunning but the prices were cut-throat expensive. I bought my graduation dress here for a bargain though so all’s good. 🙂

As usual, we ate, shopped and walked until our bellies were full till bursting the oesophageal sphincter and our varicose veins bulged. Gah!

As this post is getting a bit too long, the wonders of Myeondong will come in the eighth installment of my wonderful ten-day trip to South Korea.