There was shopping, KPop MV making, and a lot of fangirling, but our Seoul trip also had a lot of eating! I don't even know how Ris and Ica were able to find these food places (with diligent online research, no doubt - I love having star student friends) because when I travel, my take on food trips is to (1) skip the Western franchise (until at the airport a few hours before flying back home and I'd be craving for KFC or McDonald's - don't judge me!) and (2) drop by the nearest local food place upon the strike of hunger, without fear or worry of non-English menus and other forms of language barriers. But because Ica and Ris were more diligent in organizing our sources of sustenance for all the fangirling we were going to do in Seoul, we were able to try out these three amazing meals that were definitely worth waiting in line (in the cold!) for.
The cool thing about this hole-in-the-wall is the fact that there are no chairs inside the place. Instead, you gather around in steel barrels-turned-grills to eat their delicious galbi standing up. No frills, no fuss, just amazingly delicious, mouthwatering marinated beef, cooked right in front of you. (There's no rice either, so to the rice-loving Filipino travelers, you can buy some from the nearby convenience store and bring it with you, like we did. When there's a will and a want, there's definitely a way.)
All we had to go by when we were looking for this place were a few directions and a photo of the front of the restaurant with the name written in Hangul, which Rissee both got from a blog. It took us a train ride and a lot of walking around in circles, and by the time we found the place, we were so hungry that standing in a long line for dinner seemed unthinkable. We ended up eating at a nearby restaurant instead. But we don't give up on good food that easily, so two days later, we decided to drop by again, and thankfully the line was more bearable and our stomachs better prepared then.
Rissee has blogged about the cost of our meal, and directions on how to get to the place. And one final piece of advice: don't forget to dip the cooked meat in the sauce they'll give you before you eat it with the vegetables or rice. Divine.
2. Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup) in Tosokchon (tripadvisor reviews)
A perfect meal for a cold, rainy day, which is exactly when we dropped by to try this. We were lucky to have arrived a little earlier than the lunch crowd, so we were able to get a table quickly. They are also quick to serve your orders, probably used to crowds of office workers arriving for a speedy lunch. The chicken and the broth were delectable - it had a milky flavor to it that made it unique. I tried samgyetang in a Korean restaurant in Manila and while it was also quite delicious, it wasn't nearly as flavorful and rich as the one in Tosokchon.
3. Kalguksu (Knife-cut Noodles) and Mandu (Korean Dumplings) in Myeongdong Gyoja/Kyoja, mdkj.co.kr/en/
Drop your (shopping) bags, this meal is worth it. Nestled within the depths (and credit card traps) of the Myeongdong shopping district, this restaurant is a must-try. I didn't even know there were Korean dumplings until I tried them here. But the knife-cut noodles were the real star for me - their texture and thickness were perfect, and they complemented the soup and the dumplings well. These dishes are also great if you're not a fan of spicy food, because the kimchi is optional.
When you travel, do you mind waiting in line for a promising meal? Which Korean food places are your favorite? Drop me a line and let me know! ^ ^