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Monday, May 25, 2015

Eating Apple Pie and Red Velvet Cake with Chopsticks

The other day, my company was invited out to the Dragon Hill Lodge to see the facilities. The meetings went well and another cool thing was we were able to introduce real American Apple Pie and Red Velvet Cake to our staff. 

The apple pie from the base has a thick crust and there are lots of sweet apples in a cinnamony-sugar syrup. It just tastes like America. The red velvet cake there is absolutely delicious as well. The cake is spongy with lots of semi-sweet cream cheese. 

Now what we didn't expect was that our staff was going to cut it all up and eat it with chopsticks. It actually worked pretty well and it took up less time and resources (no plates needed). Next time I'm going to bring some ice cream. Let's see if they can eat that with chopsticks. 


Thursday, May 21, 2015

West Side Seoul Food Tour: Hipsters and Good Eats

There is fire on the Hipster Seoul Tour

This is Iron Man Hipster on the Hipster Seoul Tour

This is an OG Korean Hipster

Lots of Fun on the Hipster Seoul Tour
As Seoul has become a more popular destination for tourists, the real Seoulites have had to move to adjust to rising rents and food prices. In the hip district of Mullae-dong, artists and machinists have taken residence to transform the area to a cool art village with urban art pieces, art studios, restaurants and cafes right next to machinists transforming steel into industrial works. It will show you the cool, undiscovered area of Seoul as we dine at famous restaurants and eateries. This is a 3 hour tour. Food and drinks are included.

 *See a hipster art village
 *Try Great Korean Food: Korean Pancake, Fried Chicken, Barbecue and dessert
 *Learn about Korean Culture through stories and fun drinking games Tour info Tours cost 80 USD a person (minimum 3) and starts from Mullae Station (Green Line) Exit 7 at 5pm on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays and by appointment. Private Tours are available. Email us at

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The 5 Best Gourmet Kimbap Joints in Korea

The 5 Best Gourmet Kimbap Joints in Seoul
Kimbap is for Koreans like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are for Americans, fish n chips for the British, Crepes for the French or marmite and margarine sandwiches for Australians. It is a nostalgic everyday snack food that many Koreans associate with school picnics and festivals.

It is a simple dish. It is just rice seasoned with some roasted sesame oil placed on a sheet of seaweed stuffed with various vegetables and meat like yellow egg, orange carrots, white cucumbers, green spinach, pink ham, brown burdock, and yellow turnip. They are then wrapped carefully, yet firmly, brushed with some more sesame oil (to prevent the seaweed from ripping) and then sliced into rainbow disks that tastes best when eaten from the fingertips.

Variations of kimbap are boundless. It can be stuffed with tuna fish, kimchi, beef bulgogi, shrimp, crab, cheese, and even crispy, tiny anchovies.

I have even seen dessert kimbap and "nude" kimbap that has rice on the outside. Kimbap is limited only by the imagination.

On school picnics as a child, I remember having a Korean lunch box, called dosirak, stuffed with rice rolls made by mother. All the other kids had them as well and while they were all similar in style and ingredient, each child would swear their mother made the world's best.

Mothers would often wake up early to prepare these vegetable and meat stuffed rice rolls. It is a labor intensive snack that requires love and attention and a dash of mother's pride. Even though you can find kimbap stores on nearly every corner, many mothers still make them by hand at home.

So if you are not lucky enough to have someone make the rice rolls by hand (for example, I have been known to make kimbap for my wife). I wanted to give you a list of my favorite places for kimbap in Korea. Now I do love Kimbap Nara and Kimbap Cheonguk, but I am going to not put them on this list because they are just everywhere. I am not dissing on them because I have no problems going there. Anyway, here is my list.
Jinsunja Gyeranmali Kimbap

5. Jinsunja Gyeranmali Kimbap at Yeongdeungpo

It's a small little place over by the West Side of Seoul. The place is small and it is a husband and wife run shop that does perfect little rice rolls that are wrapped in yellow egg. The rice rolls are quaint and they have just enough seasoned rice to go with the crisp turnip, a bit of chive and some ham. As simple as it sounds, it is delicious. Really. I just love the simplicity of the dish and the egg. The egg is cooked so it is still soft, but it is not greasy so it is like eating a very nice omarice (omelette rice). If you are still a bit hungry, you can get the udong soup, but I would be happy with just another order of the rice rolls.

Jinsunja Gyeranmali Kimbap
Address: Click here to open on your phone: Seoul, Yeongdeunpo-gu Dangsandong 3ga 315
Phone: 02-871-9993
진순자 계란말이김밥
서울특별시 영등포구 당산동3가 315
Narcotic Rice Rolls from Gwangjang Market
4. Mo-nyeo Woncho Mayak Kimbap in Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang Market holds a special place in my heart. I love all the different foods there but especially mayak kimbap or narcotic rice rolls. These are rice rolls about the size of a small cigar stuffed with some veggies and dipped in a mustard/soy sauce. They also brush some sesame oil on top. They call them mayak or narcotic kimbap because they are seriously addicting. The most addicting part of the dish is the mustard sauce which has a sharp bite and the seasoned rice. Everyone makes it there, but my favorite is Mo-nyeo Woncho Mayak Kimbap. Ok, they all claim to be the original but you'll often find them in center of the bindaetteok area and there sign has a picture of their family (see pic). Their original place is a down a clothes alley but I think you might have problems finding it.

Mo-nyeo Woncho Mayak Kimbap
Address: Click here to open on your phone. Seoul, Jongno-gu, Changgyeonggung-ro, Gwangjang Market
모녀 원초 마약김밥


Monday, May 18, 2015

Letters to Seoul Eats: Is it Ok to Eat Alone in Korea?

Dear Daniel,

I would really like to ask you on your personal views for the Korean solo eating culture.
I am planning a solo trip to Korea soon and I would like to check if eating alone is much shunned upon in Korea. I have been there a couple of times with friends and I have never seen someone eating alone.

Of course, Ive also sussed out some 'alone' eating places like 이찌멘, 제일제면소, 이야기하나 (ㅎㅎㅎ), but was just thinking if it'll be viewed as weird if I were to just go into a restaurant alone and have grilled meat. Or noryangjin and have stew alone. How about cafes too?

Would really appreciate some tips from you on eating alone in 한국.
Thank you! :)


Dear Janel,

Thanks for the letter. In the past eating alone was generally looked down upon but these days it is becoming more common as more Koreans embrace the "singleton" lifestyle. More restaurants are allowing single diners and it is not so uncommon. Especially in "fast casual" restaurants that serve noodles, kimbap or simple foods. Also, taxi driver restaurants are generally open to single diners as well. Generally, you can go and dine everywhere by yourself but you could receive some pitiful looks from diners. However, I don't think it is much to be concerned about. If you look particularly "foreign" you might even make some friends.

If you are dining alone, for something like barbecue you will have to order a minimum 2 portions. It's just the rule because the restaurant has to heat up coals and clean up the grill pans and for one portion, it would be too much of a loss. Also, if you go to a bar to just order a beer, you'll usually have to order a side dish EVEN if you just want a beer. At the bars, the beers are not cheap and can start at 12,000 won (about 11 USD). Drinking alone in Korea is a social taboo and many people might think you have a problem or you lack friends.

Noodle places tend to be ok for single people and also any of the fast food places. As for Noryangjin, I don't think you'll really have a problem. I see Koreans doing it some times there. It's a market so some people are doing shopping and want to get a bite while they are there. Just keep in mind at Noryangjin, you will have to pay a sitting fee at a restaurant and a cooking fee (it is by weight so getting one abalone cooked will be as expensive as getting 5 or 6 cooked).

Anyway, if you are looking for people to dine with in Seoul, you could look up some of the food tour companies such as Delectable Travels ( They will help pick out all the best food places in Korea and keep you company while you eat.



Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday at Nouveau Coffee and Dessert

It was a good day. I went to Hongdae to say good-bye to some friends as they left to go home overseas. I had some time to kill so I found a cafe on Hondae's main street. I decided to go to Cafe Nouveau. I ordered a espresso (4,500 won), got a cherry mille-feuille (6,500 won) and read a comic (free :). A perfect day I have to say. The coffee was rich and dark and the cherry mille-feuille had lots of fresh cherries; fresh, lush cream; flaky pastry and rich, dark coffee. The dessert was perfect for one person. I would have loved it to have been bigger, but its not really Korean style. Plus cherries are quite expensive here so I was really surprised they put so many cherries on the cake.

Cafe Nouveau

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