Having spent a week in Seoul by now, I had more or less exhausted all the locations I wanted to go for sight-seeing. But my list of 'things to eat' wasn't complete yet! Not without my favourite Seollangtang and Yuk-Hway. You'll see what they are as I go along.
As Stella and Geri (who I hung out with the past two days) were off to Everland today and it wasn't part of my plan to head there, I stuck with Jasmine and Weiling instead. Both of them were my Korean classmates back in NUS and coming to Korea at the same time was again, completely unplanned, but it happened, so we decided to bunk together in my Air BnB apartment.
If you recall, a day ago I had cut my hair at Chop Hair. So had Weiling and Jasmine, though they did so at Edae. When they got back to the apartment in the evening, they showed me a set of really nicely-done passport photos, which I didn't think of doing, but seeing that it was so professionally done, I knew I had to get mine done, lest I regret it.
Weiling and I stopped by a random Kimbap store for breakfast while the studio was finishing up one of it's earlier clients. I love Kimbap and how filling yet cheap it is in Korea. Can you imagine this retails for almost 10 times the price in Singapore!? It's supposed to be simple food! Once we were done, we made our way to The Secret Garden Studio, a photo studio recommended by their hairdresser from the day before.
Meet Jasmine and Weiling!
The shooting area. I spent about 15 minutes here trying to get the most natural-looking shot.
The rest of the studio. The little room on the right was where the guy edited the finished shots.
You might be wondering, why go all the way to Korea to get my passport photo done? Well, Koreans are not only famous for their plastic surgery clinics, but they are also famous for their photo-editing skills. My friends had their photos taken and edited so nicely that the shots not only looked professional, but it looked like we had a little nip-and-tuck done. The price for 8 regular passport photos cost us 30,000krw, so we termed it the '30,000 won plastic surgery'. As both girls were there the day before, we bargained a little for 'service' (or free items) and the boss was nice to give me an additional 8 smaller frames free, so I had 16 photos in all. To get a glimpse of how my photos turned out, you can check out my Instagram post here
Once we were all done, we went in search of Imun Seolnongtang, a restaurant that apparently has 100 years of serving Seollangtang. Being an ardent fan of Seollangtang, it meant that I definitely had to give this restaurant a go, right? We took about 30 minutes to find the location from the subway station. Google Maps wasn't much of a help because this place was situated behind the building and at the basement!
Our humble Seollangtang dish served with the rice in the soup, Guk-Bap (literally soup-rice) style!
To me, the soup stock was alright. Maybe I was too used to flavoured versions, but this tasted really bland. What I did love, however, was the Kattugi (radish) and Kimchi they served on the side. It had the right amount of tartness and spiciness, which in a way complimented the mild-tasting soup really well. It was also free-flow because they literally give you a container full and you just scoop out as much as you want.
Once we were done, we went our separate ways and arranged to meet again in the evening to meet our friend Jooyoung who did an exchange semester at NUS. I opted to head to Express Bus Terminal to continue my shopping. It was indeed a really productive afternoon. I bought at least 5 dresses/tops! Once I was done, I headed over to Gangnam-gu Office station to meet a friend from my SNU exchange days, Seol! She's working with a pharmaceutical firm in Seoul. She's extremely well-traveled, speaks great English and was one of the nicest 언니 (Unni or older sister) I got to know when I was there. She was actually my friend's Korean buddy but she took equally good care of the group of us. She asked me what I felt like having, to which I said 육회 (Yuk-hway or raw beef), so she brought me to a little shop near the station, which her colleagues had recommended, Seochodong Yeonga. It's at the black building next to Exit #2, but I can't seem to find the exact address.
This spread cost us 25,000krw complete with some complementary dishes like the soup on the left.
I loved the Yuk Hway! For 25,000krw it is a little more steep than the regular Korean restaurant, but bearing in mind this is fresh, raw beef, the price was quite a steal. The store owners were also really nice. We wanted to drink Makkeoli (fermented rice wine), but they ran out of it, so one of the staff ran out and got a few bottles from the nearby convenience store. They even asked us what brand we would like. Such good service! Between us two, we polished the meat, soup, some acorn jelly and a whole bottle of Makkeoli. We hung out for a bit more before I shooed her off to meet with her boyfriend.
I met up with Jasmine and Weiling again, however this time it was with our friend Jooyoung. Unlike Seol, I got to know Jooyoung in Singapore when she did her exchange at NUS. We got to know each other through our interest club and also worked on a translation assignment together. It was so nice having the four of us meet again after four whole years! This time round we had Pa-Ddak, or fried chicken with spring onion. This is another my favourite Korean fried chicken dish, next to Yang-Neom Chicken. Unfortunately I cannot, for the life of me, remember what was the name of the restaurant we went to, but it is very near the Kyobo bookstore at Sinneonhyeon Station (Exit #6).
Of course, what is Korean fried chicken without some beer right?
The Secret Garden Studio
Level B1, 56-58 Daehyun-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Nearest subway station: Ewha Women's University station (Exit #2)
Imun Seolnongtang / 이문설농탕
38-13 Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Nearest subway station: Jonggak Station (Exit #3-1)
Seochodong Yeonga / 서초동연가
Nonhyeon-2-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Nearest subway station: Gangnam-gu Office station (Exit #2)
Labels: Holidays, Korea, Spring 2014