Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cafes and Bakeries in Seoul

Lord Stow Bakery

  • A chain bakery from Macao specializing in traditional Portuguese egg tarts with moist flaky crust with delicious creamy egg custard. Best eaten hot right out of the oven with a cup of milk tea or coffee.
  • Located in Apgujeong.
  • http://www.lordstow.com/

Kim Young Mo

  • Doggok station exit 4, next to Coffee Bean (orange line)
  • A French Bakery with lots of tasty samples, go there with empty stomach :) Mr Kim is a very famous baker in South Korea and has won many awards. You will see all this awards on the wall facing the front door. The staff working there are are extremely polite, greeting and saying goodbye to every customers. I always feel very welcome when I step into the store.
  • "All good things come with a price." So are Kim's products. I always leave Kim's with a hole in my pocket.

Focacino

  • Sadang Station Line 2. Foccacino is next to the station and Coffee Bean. See my review on the focaccias and desserts.

Indian Restaurants in Seoul

Chakraa at Itaewon

  • Itaewon Station, Exit 6, Behind Hamilton Hotel.
  • I love Chakraa weekend dinner buffets (w15,000). Beware, Saturday nights are always packed and the buffet never gets replenished fast enough. Chakraa has a few branches in Seoul. In my opinion, the one at Itaewon is the best. I went to the one at Cheong-dam and it was a ghost town with us as the only guests on a Saturday night and food was really terrible.
  • www.chakraa.co.kr

Middle Eastern Restaurants in Seoul

Petra at Itaewon

  • Noksapeyong Station, Line No. 6, Exit 2. Use the pedestrian overpass to cross the road, turn right and walk up the hill. Petra is about 20 meters along on the second floor of a red brick building on the left side of the road. Tel: 019 840-9630.

Marrakesh Night at Itaewon

  • Branch 1:1F 57-16 Itaewon-Dong, Yongsan-Gu. Tel: 010 5801 9444. At Itaewon Station, walk towards Pizza Hut. Marrakesh is up the hill next to the the antique shops.
  • Branch 2: get out at Exit 3 at Itaewon Station and walk straight for about 5 mins. You would pass the Fire station and the gas station. It would be on the right.


(updated on May 07)

Mexican restaurant in Seoul

Dos Tacos

  • Gangnam Station Line 2, Exit 6. Next to Kyobo building, behind Tour Les Jour Bakery.
  • Inexpensive non-greasy Mexican food and you can choose your level of spiciness. It is the best in town in my opinion. It is a rather small restaurant with less than 20 seats. So to avoid long wait, go in pairs or group of 4. Dos Tacos is very popular with the expats. One way to tell if the food is authentic, check the expat: Korean ratio in the restaurants.
  • Prices are around 4,000-5000 won for burrito, quesadilla and soft or hard shell taco.


Vietnamese/Thai Restaurants in Seoul

Little Saigon at Coex

  • Samsong Station Line 2, Close to City Air Terminal.
  • Fav dish: Chicken Pho Soup with extra cilantro & bean sprouts(W8, 000)
Pattaya
  • Serves spicy hot Thai cuisine with flavorful spices and herbs. Dishes on menu includes tom yum spoon, fried glass noodle, thai noodle soup, green curry.
  • Restaurant located at Apgujeong, not far from Lord Stow Bakery which sells delicious Portuguese egg tarts. Great for desserts after a Thai meal.


Looking for good foreign restaurants in Seoul?

For those expats who are interested in dining out, I have compiled a lists of foreign restaurants in Seoul that I personally adore. They are in my opinion authentic, not too adapted to local Korean taste.

Singaporean

Yakun Kaya Toast

  • Specialty: Coconut jam from Singapore on crispy toast with butter slices, coffee and tea with condensed milk.
  • Apkujung Outlet: 652-16 1F KMD BuildingShin-Sa Dong, KangNam-GuSeoul, South Korea 135-897Tel: (82-2) 516 9760
  • Mok-dong Outlet: Hyundai Department StoreMok-dong Branch, Floor B2916 Mok-dong Yangcheon-kuSeoul, South KoreaTel: (82-2) 2163 2184
  • Yeoksam Outlet(New) at Star Tower right at Yeoksam Station. It is located on B2, next to all the eateries.
  • http://www.yakun.com/korea.html

Crystal Jade Palace

  • A Singaporean restaurant Chain serving Cantonese cuisine. Menu: HongKong-style Roast Duck, Peking Duck, Chinese Roast Pork, Dim Sum, XO Beef Fried Rice Noodles
  • First Floor, Grand Inter-Continental Seoul, 521 Teheranno, Gangnam-Gu( Samsong Station Line2)
  • W10,000 for a basket of 4 Har kow( Steam Shrimp dumplings)
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm
Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight restaurant
  • From the Singaporean chain of Chinese restaurants, serving Shanghainese specialities like Xiao Long Bao and Stewed Pork Belly and the typical Singaporean dessert like Almond Jelly.
  • 5th Floor Hyundai Department Main Store 429 Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu Seoul, Korea 135-900
  • Dishes from 5,000won. Competitive with Jacky's Kitchen or Din Tai Fung.
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm

Chinese

Ding Tai Fung

  • Myeong Dong, Euljiro 1-Ga Subway station, Line 2. Tel: 02-771-2778
  • Gangnam Station Exit 5. Walk straight for 2 blocks and take a right after Marche. It is located at the same block as Marche.
  • A Taiwanese restaurant franchaise, specialising in Shanghai Xiao Long Bao. Long queues on weekend. Fav Dish: Xiao Long Bao dipped in ginger vinegar, Stir-fried Spinach, crab soup.
Crystal Jade Palace
  • A Singaporean restaurant Chain serving Cantonese cuisine. Menu: HongKong-style Roast Duck, Peking Duck, Chinese Roast Pork, Dim Sum, XO Beef Fried Rice Noodles
  • First Floor, Grand Inter-Continental Seoul, 521 Teheranno, Gangnam-Gu( Samsong Station Line2)
  • W10,000 for a basket of 4 Har kow( Steam Shrimp dumplings)
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm
Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight restaurant
  • From the Singaporean chain of Chinese restaurants, serving Shanghainese specialities like Xiao Long Bao and Stewed Pork Belly and the typical Singaporean dessert like Almond Jelly.
  • 5th Floor Hyundai Department Main Store 429 Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu Seoul, Korea 135-900
  • Dishes from 5,000won. Competitive with Jacky's Kitchen or Din Tai Fung.
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm

Yum China, Dim Sum

  • 1B, I'Park Tower, 160 Samsung Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul. Tel: 02-562-0779
  • A Chinese restaurant that has a very lounge feel to it. Contemporary furnishing with beautiful tableware and setting. Most important of all, the Dim Sum there is made by Chinese chefs, I heard some of the chefs speaking Cantonese. Probably the best authentic Dim Sum you can get in Seoul. Downside: Be expected to pay 7,000(7usd) for a basket of 3 Har Kow( steamed shrimp dumplings), plus tax and service. We paid 60,000won for 2, leaving with 3/4 full stomachs.
  • http://www.yumchina.co.kr/
Lord Stow Bakery
  • A chain bakery from Macao specializing in traditional Portuguese egg tarts with moist flaky crust with delicious creamy egg custard.
  • Located in Apgujeong.
  • http://www.lordstow.com/


chiu chow chinese cuinine, Dim Sum

Vietnamese/Thai

Little Saigon at Coex

  • Samsong Station Line 2, Close to City Air Terminal.
  • Fav dish: Chicken Pho Soup with extra cilantro & bean sprouts(W8, 000)
Pattaya
  • Serves spicy hot Thai cuisine with flavorful spices and herbs. Dishes on menu includes tom yum spoon, fried glass noodle, thai noodle soup, green curry.
  • Restaurant located at Apgujeong, not far from Lord Stow Bakery which sells delicious Portuguese egg tarts. Great for desserts after a Thai meal.


French

Le Petit Paris at Sinchon

  • 2F 52-18 Changcheon-Dong Seodaemun-Gu, Seoul. Tel: 010-6353-0901 Sinchon Station line 2 exit 2. From exit 2, walk straight. Restaurant is located in an alley on the left which is directly opposite the church.
  • Affordable simple french dining. Limited menu. Fav dish: Beef Tenderloin with Red wine shallot sauce, accompanied by sauteed potatoes with bacon and mushrooms (w12,000-15,000)

La Cigale at Itaewon

  • Itaewon Station at Exit 6. Walk about 2-3 mins. It's on the left, next to Kraze Burger. Tel:02-796-1244
  • Interesting menu with occasionally new dishes added every now and then.

Table 34

  • 34 Flr, Grand Inter-Continental Hotel, Samsung Station Line 2.
  • Upscale, expensive Southern French dining with a beautiful view of Seoul at night.

Mexican

Dos Tacos

  • Gangnam Station Line 2, Exit 6. Next to Kyobo building, behind Tour Les Jour Bakery.
  • Inexpensive non-greasy Mexican food and you can choose your level of spiciness. It is the best in town in my opinion. It is a rather small restaurant with less than 20 seats. So to avoid long wait, go in pairs or group of 4. Dos Tacos is very popular with the expats. One way to tell if the food is authentic, check the expat: Korean ratio in the restaurants.
  • Prices are around 4,000-5000 won for burrito, quesadilla and soft or hard shell taco.


Middle Eastern

Petra at Itaewon

  • Noksapeyong Station, Line No. 6, Exit 2. Use the pedestrian overpass to cross the road, turn right and walk up the hill. Petra is about 20 meters along on the second floor of a red brick building on the left side of the road. Tel: 019 840-9630.

Marrakesh Night at Itaewon

  • Branch 1:1F 57-16 Itaewon-Dong, Yongsan-Gu. Tel: 010 5801 9444. At Itaewon Station, walk towards Pizza Hut. Marrakesh is up the hill next to the the antique shops.
  • Branch 2: get out at Exit 3 at Itaewon Station and walk straight for about 5 mins. You would pass the Fire station and the gas station. It would be on the right.

Chakraa at Itaewon
  • Itaewon Station, Exit 6, Behind Hamilton Hotel.
  • I love Chakraa weekend dinner buffets (w15,000). Beware, Saturday nights are always packed and the buffet never gets replenished fast enough. Chakraa has a few branches in Seoul. In my opinion, the one at Itaewon is the best. I went to the one at Cheong-dam and it was a ghost town with us as the only guests on a Saturday night and food was really terrible.
  • www.chakraa.co.kr
Nepalese

Namaste

  • Dongmyo station line 6 exit 5. On the 2nd floor right above the exit.
  • Namaste has an extensive menu with Indian and Nepalese dishes. Tried Chicken Tikka which was very tender(W7,000). Saffron Rice was great for 3-4 person at W4,000, very light and buttery. Lamb curry was thick and contained lots of juicy lamb chunks w8,000, a little on the sweet side though. Aloo gobi( cauliflower and potato curry W7,000) was too sweet. Kheer was very thick and piquant with whole black peppers, rather surprising touch. Chai was excellent.

French Bakery

Kim Young Mo at Doggok, next to Coffee Bean (orange line)

  • Lots of tasty samples, go there with empty stomach :)

There are lots of foreign restaurants I have yet to try. Let me know if there is any good ones that I'm missing out.

French Restaurants in Seoul

Le Petit Paris at Sinchon

  • 2F 52-18 Changcheon-Dong Seodaemun-Gu, Seoul. Tel: 010-6353-0901 Sinchon Station line 2 exit 2. From exit 2, walk straight. Restaurant is located in an alley on the left which is directly opposite the church.
  • Affordable simple french dining. Limited menu. Fav dish: Beef Tenderloin with Red wine shallot sauce, accompanied by sauteed potatoes with bacon and mushrooms (w12,000-15,000)

La Cigale at Itaewon

  • Itaewon Station at Exit 6. Walk about 2-3 mins. It's on the left, next to Kraze Burger. Tel:02-796-1244
  • Interesting menu with occasionally new dishes added every now and then.

Table 34

  • 34 Flr, Grand Inter-Continental Hotel, Samsung Station Line 2.
  • Upscale, expensive Southern French dining with a beautiful view of Seoul at night.
  • www.seoul.intercontinental.com

Pierre Gagnaire Seoul
  • 35th floor of Lotte Hotel, Seoul, Korea, 1 Sogong-dong, Chung-gu Seoul Tel:02-317-7181-2
  • Subway station: Myeung Dong.
  • Tel:02-317-7181-2
  • 3 Michellin stars restaurant with a stunning view of Seoul. Menu created by reowned French Chef Pierre Gagnaire with restaurants in chic cities like Paris, London, Tokyo, Hongkong and Dubai.
  • Menu price: Set Lunch at 120,000won and above (excluding taxes and drinks). Set Dinner at 300,000won.

Chinese Restaurants in Seoul

Ding Tai Fung

  • Myeong Dong, Euljiro 1-Ga Subway station, Line 2. Tel: 02-771-2778
  • Gangnam Station Exit 5. Walk straight for 2 blocks and take a right after Marche. It is located at the same block as Marche.
  • A Taiwanese restaurant franchaise, specialising in Shanghai Xiao Long Bao. Long queues on weekend. Fav Dish: Xiao Long Bao dipped in ginger vinegar, Stir-fried Spinach, crab soup.
  • www.dintaifung.co.kr

Crystal Jade Palace

  • A Singaporean restaurant Chain serving Cantonese cuisine. Menu: HongKong-style Roast Duck, Peking Duck, Chinese Roast Pork, Dim Sum, XO Beef Fried Rice Noodles
  • First Floor, Grand Inter-Continental Seoul, 521 Teheranno, Gangnam-Gu( Samsong Station Line2)
  • W10,000 for a basket of 4 Har kow( Steam Shrimp dumplings)
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm
Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight restaurant
  • From the Singaporean chain of Chinese restaurants, serving Shanghainese specialities like Xiao Long Bao and Stewed Pork Belly and the typical Singaporean dessert like Almond Jelly.
  • 5th Floor Hyundai Department Main Store 429 Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu Seoul, Korea 135-900
  • Dishes from 5,000won. Competitive with Jacky's Kitchen or Din Tai Fung.
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm

Yum China, Authentic Hong Kong Dim Sum

  • 1B, I'Park Tower, 160 Samsung Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul. Tel: 02-562-0779
  • A Chinese restaurant that has a very lounge feel to it. Contemporary furnishing with beautiful tableware and setting. Most important of all, the Dim Sum there is made by Chinese chefs, I heard some of the chefs speaking Cantonese. Probably the best authentic Dim Sum you can get in Seoul. Downside: Be expected to pay 7,000(7usd) for a basket of 3 Har Kow( steamed shrimp dumplings), plus tax and service. We paid 60,000won for 2, leaving with 3/4 full stomachs.
  • http://www.tani.co.kr/kan/index.asp
Lord Stow Bakery
  • A chain bakery from Macao specializing in traditional Portuguese egg tarts with moist flaky crust with delicious creamy egg custard.
  • Located in Apgujeong.
  • http://www.lordstow.com/

chiu chow chinese cuinine, Dim Sum

  • Daechi Branch is closed to Daechi subway station, orange line. Next to Dunkin Donuts. Tel: 02-567-6115.
  • http://www.station4u.co.kr/ (22/04/09: website not working anymore, perhaps the restaurant closed down?)

Chon Il Bang, Dim Sum & Chinese

  • Gangnam subway station, exit 5. Walk straight for 2 blocks and take a right after Marche. Walk for another 2 mins. It's above the dessert factory place, on the 4th floor. There is a glass exterior lift for access. Tel:02-536-3955.
  • Over 10 different Dim Sum on the menu. My Recommendations: Pork bun and Glutinous Rice in lotus leaves.

Singapore Restaurants in Seoul

Yakun Kaya Toast

  • Specialty: Coconut jam from Singapore on crispy toast with butter slices, coffee and tea with condensed milk.
  • Apkujung Outlet: 652-16 1F KMD BuildingShin-Sa Dong, KangNam-GuSeoul, South Korea 135-897Tel: (82-2) 516 9760
  • Mok-dong Outlet: Hyundai Department StoreMok-dong Branch, Floor B2916 Mok-dong Yangcheon-kuSeoul, South KoreaTel: (82-2) 2163 2184
  • Yeoksam Outlet(New) at Star Tower right at Yeoksam Station. It is located on B2, next to all the eateries.
  • http://www.yakun.com/korea.html

Crystal Jade Palace

  • A Singaporean restaurant Chain serving Cantonese cuisine. Menu: HongKong-style Roast Duck, Peking Duck, Chinese Roast Pork, Dim Sum, XO Beef Fried Rice Noodles
  • First Floor, Grand Inter-Continental Seoul, 521 Teheranno, Gangnam-Gu( Samsong Station Line2)
  • W10,000 for a basket of 4 Har kow( Steam Shrimp dumplings)
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm
Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight restaurant
  • From the Singaporean chain of Chinese restaurants, serving Shanghainese specialities like Xiao Long Bao and Stewed Pork Belly and the typical Singaporean dessert like Almond Jelly.
  • 5th Floor Hyundai Department Main Store 429 Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu Seoul, Korea 135-900
  • Dishes from 5,000won. Competitive with Jacky's Kitchen or Din Tai Fung.
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm

Street food in Seoul


Last week my family visited me in Seoul. Just when the temperature took a dive. On their very first night, I brought them to a place buzzling with young people, bars, loud korean music and street food vendors. People were seen surrounding the madeshift food store tent, standing and eating and chatting among friends.


Out of curiosity, we ordered a plate of the white cyclinders simmering in crimson red sauce sold by some ladies in aprons on the street. It was huge serving on a styrofoam plate with bamboo skewers for picking up the cyclinders. I wondered if it tasted delicious.

I took a bite of the red saucy cyclinder which turned out to be rice cake. Hot, sweet, spicy and chewy were the only few words that could simply describe the dish. In such cold weather, it became a cheap luxury food for the Koreans - just 2 USD.
I later came to know the name of these spicy rice cake: Tteokbokki.


This tteokbokki store didn't just specialise in tteokbokki. It carried on the menu Twigim and Takkochi. Twigim is like the Korean version of vegetable, seafood and dumpling tempura; Takkochi is grilled chicken with red spicy sauce on skewer.

If you want to experience the Korean culture, you got to eat like the Koreans. Give the street food a try!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bitter winter cravings

This winter has brought November to a very cold and windy start. I stopped my regular morning 1- hr walk in the park close to my apartment. I dread the cold wind slicing through my skin and bones like a knife. Neither can I conceive the arrival of glacial December, not to mention January till May. Oh yes, it snowed in last May!

There is something peculiar about me in every winter: I have a tremendous appetite. I have cravings for anything hot, rich and sweet - Dark Chocolates, Nutella, Hot Chocolate, Crepes, Roasted Chestnuts, Sweet Chestnut Puree, Candied Chestnuts, Sweet Black Rice Soup( Singaporean dessert, aka Pulut Hitam, it's like a hot glutinous black rice pudding served with coconut milk ), Sweet Red Bean Soup and Bobo Cha Cha(Sweet potato cubes cooked in coconut milk and palm sugar, with or without tapioca pearls). I cannot resist Bungol Pang - a Korean pancake filled with sweet red bean paste, shaped in a fish - sold in every corner and street in Seoul. I guess in winter, walking in penguin-like motion, struggling with the icy wind, my nose has learnt to detect the aroma of piping hot, freshly made Bungol Pang.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Singapore Vacation Part 2: Mid Autumn Festival

I was extremely lucky to be back in Singapore during the Mid Autumn Festival. Why? Because this is the only time you can find mooncakes. Traditional Cantonese mooncakes are usually made with sweet lotus paste, salted egg yolks and sometimes with melon seeds or other nuts. It has a rich golden brown baked crust with Chinese characters imprinted on the top of the mooncake. Nowadays, recipes of mooncakes are so diverse: Cantonese, Teochew, Taiwanese, Suzhou and Modern Snow Skin. Some recipes even come with a Singaporean touch - Durian mooncakes and Pandan mooncakes.


Durian .. is the most loved or hated fruit by people. It's like the cheese affair. It is yellow, stinky and smells almost rotten. Despite the smell, the taste is pretty sweet and creamy. It melts like chocolate in the mouth.




By chance, I was at the Mooncake Festival Far at Takashimaya. There were lots of vendors offering free samples to everyone. I couldn't resist but gave in to the mooncakes samples. It surprised me to see every vendors' creativity in mooncakes had gone over the top. Durian mooncakes were no longer a novelty. Any flavours you could possibly imagine were there: Strawberry, blueberry, white and milk chocolate, champagne, walnut, hazelnut,cuppucino, green tea, tiramisu and bird's nest. How about some Haagen Dazs Belgian Chocolate Coated Ice cream Mooncakes? Raffles Hotel came up with the Champagne Truffles & Ganache, Rum & Raisins, Baileys as well as Ginseng & Wolfberries Mooncakes. Not something that I had expected from traditional Chinese mooncakes. 3 days before the event ended, these mooncakes from Raffles were all sold out! I guess originality sells.


Given all the flavours I could choose from, I love only traditional Cantonese mooncakes. Especially accompanied by freshly brewed Earl Grey or Japanese Green Tea. Now the Mid Autumn Festival is over, only the reminiscence of the festive taste is left of me: the chewiness of the
crust, the sweetness of the lotus paste and the saltiness of the salted egg yolks.