Thursday, September 24, 2009

Restaurant Recommendations and tips for Travelers to Seoul

These days, I've been getting quite a few e-mails from people that are heading to Seoul for vacation. These travelers all seem to be quite hungry, so I am going to give you recommendations for new visitors to Seoul.

The restaurants on this list are picked for people whose palates are not quite Koreanized. Feel free to add to the list if you'd like.

TRAVELER'S TIP:  Rent a cellphone from the airport. Without a cellphone you are not a person in Seoul. You won't be able to get around and you won't be able to call for help. There is a great service 1330. You dial 02-1330 on your cellphone and you'll be connected with Tourist information service that will help you find places and translate. It's a great service. Another great service...but a bit unpredictable at times is 120. Dial 02-120 on your phone. And one more is the BBB. You dial 02-1588-5644.

Know your subway stations, or get a map and point.  Taxi drivers don't know street addresses. They know major landmarks, intersections, pharmacies (I know that sounds weird, but they know them) and they ESPECIALLY KNOW THE SUBWAY STATIONS. If you are going somewhere, give a subway stop as a location. Then call your exact destination and give the phone to the driver. It's a common thing in Korea, so you don't have to feel self-conscious about it.

Ask Questions. Also, write out things in Korean or print them out and show them to Koreans. Koreans won't understand your accent, but they can read and they're very helpful. If you look confused and ask for help, "To-wha-ju-say-o," 5 out of 10 times, they will (If you leave the city of Seoul, it's more like 8 out of 10).

Korean Restaurant Recommendations:

1. Sariwon for delicious bulgogi. The meat is tender and marinated in a clean tasting, fruit-soy sauce and grilled on a special copper grill plate. When finished, the meat is almost fluffy. They have a great selection of side dishes (banchan) as well and good cold noodles (naengmyeon). 02-3474-5005

Directions. Go out exit 4 of Gangnam Station. Go past Samseong Tower and make the left at a major intersection. You'll see the Gangnam Building to your left. You'll see Sariwon next to the Dong-a Tower. 

2. Korean Fried Chicken Street. Across from the Kyobo Building in Gangnam, you will see a strip of Korean fried chicken places. You'll see the godfather of all fried chicken places, Two Two Chicken, there is also BBQ chicken and a number of young upstarts. Crispy nuggets of chicken with a bit of salt or in a tangy sauce goes wonderfully with beer.

Directions: Go out Gangnam Building Exit 6 and walk straight until you get to Kyobo building. Cross to the other side of the road and make a left. You'll see the restaurants about 100 meters up.

3. Royal Court Cuisine at Suraon. They do traditional music and dance shows every 30 minutes and the luxurious interior makes you feel like a king. They can do everything from small groups to conferences. They do course menus so you'll order your set and they'll bring it out for everyone. They recommend the entire table choose the same set per person. Depending on the set you could get 8, 12 or 20 courses. It's fun to see all the food come out and to watch the show. You can watch a video I made on Suraon here. Courses run from 25,000 to 75,000 per person.

Directions: It's on the opposite side of the express bus terminal down the strip from the Marriot Hotel.

4. ...sorry...more to come, but I must go to work now.

Here are a few other lists I've written in the past.