You sick of Korea posts yet? :P Last one.

Scott and I checked out the Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul. It’s a cool set up, they have A LOT of different types of seafood, and you can choose what you want and they will take it to their associated restaurant upstairs who will cook it for you for a couple dollars.

What kind of ray is this?

It was a little overwhelming though, there wasn’t much English inside, and some of the portions were enormous. So we just decided to get some salmon sashimi to go.

Which we ate outside in the sun on the steps of a random building.

Checking out the beach near our hotel in Donghae. The water looked beautiful and clear. I bet the Korean seaside is really nice in the summer.

Variety gimbap in Gangneung. I love how many elements they cram into a roll, even cheese!!

Eating during the Olympics was tricky. We seemed to always be racing to get onto the bus or train that was just about the depart so we ended up missing a lot of meals. And the food that was inside the Olympic venues was cheaper than I expected, but pretty bland. Anyway at least we ended on a pretty good note when we found a nice restaurant to have another dolsot bibimbap, gimbap, and mandu (Korean dumplings) on our last night.

I do regret not eating more seafood while on the seaside though. And we never found the soft tofu local speciality. Doh!

These doughnuts were amazing. Korea knows how to make a good crispy doughnut omg. The market stall was selling doughnuts stuffed with savoury fillings like: kimchi, pizza cheese, red bean, squid, and more. I had a japchae (glass noodles with vegetables) doughnut, and Scott had curry sweet potato. SO GOOD. We also tried hotteok which are like fried doughballs filled with lava caramel and seeds and nuts. Very difficult to eat (I may have had a molten sugar explosion all over my gloves and jacket), but very tasty.

Scott got a red bean fish ice cream from 7-11. It was nice.

Korea seems very… prepared. Our hotel in Seoul came with a fire extinguisher, a flashlight, and a little suitcase with an emergency ladder, and every subway station had these cases with tons of masks. I suppose technically they are still at war…

We stayed in Hongdae for our last night. It is a university area so there are a lot of things around for young people to spend their money, such as: escape rooms, arcades, animal cafes, 85 million coffee shops, phone case shops, karaoke, billiards, smash rooms, etc. And, speciality cafes, like Scott’s dream cafe: Mint Heim. Everything was mint chocolate, aka Scott’s favourite dessert flavour combination. You could even get mint coffee. It was a tough choice, but we decided to try a piece of the mint Nutella cake, and it was good.

Well that does it, I’m all caught up. It was an epic trip. So much fun! It was just so easy to travel there: plenty of English, fantastic transit, quite cheap, amazing food, tons to see. I would return to Korea again for sure, with an extra suitcase and an extra stomach! :D

AKA Spicy Chicken Stir Fry with a Cheese Moat :D :D

Because obviously when you make a spicy chicken and vegetable stir fry you think “wouldn’t this be better with a crap load of cheese”. Right? Maybe it’s just me. #everythingisbetterwithcheese

Anyway this exists. And it was great. I’m gonna walk you through it.

We ordered chicken galbi for three people. They fire up the burner on the table and bring out a giant pan filled with chicken in gochujang, potatoes, rice cakes, various vegetables, and a exorbitant amount of shredded cheese. We stare at it, unsure if we are supposed to start stirring.

Waiters come over and start stirring our pan every once and a while. We relax as we realize that they will do everything for us, haha. Nibble some banchan.

Look at the amount of cheese they gave us and wonder if we’ve made a terrible mistake.

When the food is mostly cooked they pour the cheese into the cheese moat.

Stir stir. Melt melt. Bubble bubble.

Is it ready yet??

It’s ready!!! Dig in.

Grab bits of chicken and/or veg and scoop up some cheese and shovel it all into your mouth. Yummmm.

Finish the stir fry and ask for one serving of rice. Waiter comes over and scrapes out the extra bits of food and cheese, then adds rice to the pan.

He does some elaborate scraping and stirring for a few minutes.

And smoothing.

Aww. “For Family” the waiter says.

Take selfies with your Japanese table buddies!

Roll home.

Another day, more Seoul-searching. Sunny, but coooooold.

At a design plaza/museum. We went hard in the gift shop, everything was so cool/cute.

That whole long building is a shopping mall!!! And it went off equally far in the opposite direction! There were so many malls omg. The shopping in Seoul was crazy, but we couldn’t really buy much clothes because we are too fat in Korea. We did have to get snowpants and mine are size XXL and they’re almost too small. :((( Maybe there is a whole mall for people that are Big & Tall but we didn’t look for it tbh.

We went to a Trick Eye Museum that was… weird. You could download an app and then when you pointed the camera at the different scenes it added stuff, aka augmented reality.

You could also go into an ice museum with a slide, and get your face printed onto a latte.

It would have been fine for $5 like the kimchi museum but unfortunately it was $15. I don’t really recommend it.

Oppa Gangnam Style!

We also checked out Insadong, Lotte World, many super hipster cafes that Jinnie recommended, underground malls, Hongdae, a lemur cafe (but left immediately because there was a kangaroo in a tiny cage and it made us all very sad), and many many other things. The entire trip we were either exploring, watching Olympics, stuffing our faces, or eating. LOL. I walked average 20k steps a day. Not bad.

OK so apparently Rosemarie is like an expert of Korean food, and she had a food bucket list a mile long. Since she had less time in Korea than us we let her make all the food decisions while we were together. She did a great job serving as Minister For Food.

Here are a few things that we loved:

BBQ was obviously a must-eat. We found this place in Hongdae that was All You Can Eat for like $12. We cooked up all sorts of vegetables and meats and wrapped them in lettuce and dipped in the salty oil and the peanutty sauce. Yum. We all liked the marinated beef the most, nice and tender with a good sauce.

A very good selection of banchan. Peanuts, fish, anchovies, eggs, mushrooms, pickled veggies, kimchi. Banchan comes free and unlimited with every meal, but usually we only got 3-4 things, not 8!

We stayed in Myeongdong, which was a very busy shopping area (especially beauty shops!) with tons of restaurants and street vendors. There was always lots to see and do and eat in Myeongdong and it was very central for transit too. A+ Would Myeongdong again.

Those were subway station doughnuts and they were amazing. Very crispy with vanilla custard, sweet potato, and red bean fillings. Scott walked 1 hr each way to go back for more doughnuts later in the week.

Raw beef bibimbap in stone pot. The pot was flipping hot so when you stir it around (after adding heaps of gochujang of course) it cooks the beef a bit, and the rice on the bottom gets crunchy. We ate variations of this a lot, which is good since it’s full of vegetables and relatively healthy.

This was another of Rosemarie’s must-eats… Korean seafood pancake. It brought back memories of when our parents took us to a Korean restaurant in NYC in approximately 2002 and we got traumatized by the still-moving seafood stew and acted like brats and wouldn’t eat anything except for the plain bits of the Korean pancake on the side. Thankfully we have become more adventurous eaters since then, and enjoyed the whole pancake this time.

She also made us try a mango mountain (one of those giganto desserts with shaved ice and all sorts of toppings like mango and cheesecake and ice cream), which Scott and I liked but Rose didn’t (she said it didn’t have good texture and was too cold). And she introduced us to one of those bbq places with a cheese moat (yes you read that right, and yes that is getting its own blog post coming up next) which was obviously amazing.

Then she had to go back to work in Japan. :( Sister time over. But oh man we love travelling with Rosemarie. Our collaborations of research and interests always end up being so much fun. Next time Japan? Or Vietnam?

Is this not the best looking airplane meal you have ever seen? I mean, bibimbap with plenty of vegetables, Kit Kat, Canada Dry, a lil’ tube of lip balm gochujang?? Amazing.

Scott and I had one day in Seoul before Rosemarie arrived. She’s been getting plenty of nakey spa time in Japan so we decided that was a good activity for us to do before she got there. We went to Dragon Hill Spa, thanks to Leslie’s informative blog post about jjimjilbangs. The weirdest part was having to strip naked in the change room, then walk past the (fully dressed) ladies selling eggs at the snack counter and head down the stairs to the floor with the pools. Once I got to that area I was fine, but I felt really weird walking around nude when people were still arriving in their winter coats.

Anyway they have separate bath areas for men and women so Scott and I each went for a soak and met up for lunch later in the spa restaurant. I liked the medium temperature pools the most, and the herbal pools and the cold pool with the ultra strong jets. The full body jet pool was broken which was a shame because I think it would have been my favourite. I got a body scrub, which was odd, but my skin felt so nice and soft afterwards, and Scott got a massage.

Spa lunch. We had kimchi stew and cold noodles with pollack. The noodles were soooo long you have to chop them up with scissors so you don’t choke, and the fish was super chewy because it is repeatedly frozen and dried (like 20 times!!) until all the cells explode. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had known why the fish was so chewy before I ate it.

We also tried out the dry saunas in the common area. Some of them were SO FREAKING HOT and you had to crawl through a tiny door to get in, haha.

Rosemarie arrives!! We apply Korean sheet masks and trade gifts (Tina hoodie and Tim Tams for her, kawaiiiiiii treats for us).

The next day we went to approximately 900 different places around Seoul thanks to Jinnie and Leslie’s and many other people’s AWESOME recommendations. I’ll just post a few highlights.

Temple… ✔. Missed the changing of the guard and regretted not renting hanboks, rah.

Rooster, horse and tiger.

Good job Scott even getting the eyes right. :D A brief stop at the National Folk Museum.

Woohoo, second chance hanboks!! The Kimchi Museum had some that you could try on, so of course we took advantage and wore them the whole time at the museum. :)

Different types of kimchi. It was a decent museum, especially for only $5. We learned about the fermenting process, different types of kimchi, recipes, and even got to try a few samples.

Me and Ross at the poop fun centre (???)(didn’t actually pay to go in), Me and Mr. Donothing (my new spirit animal), Scott and his drinking buddy being #basic.

A really good lunch down a random alleyway. Spicy ramen tteokbokki (rice cakes) and gimbap (Korean version of sushi).

This is the only thing we saw on the whole trip about North Korea. Scott’s dad wanted a North Korean Olympic Team t-shirt but we couldn’t find anything like that at all! I suppose it’s not a joking matter.

At S Namsan Tower. Check out all those love locks!

Guess Rosemarie didn’t like it. :’)))

We didn’t go up the actual tower because the views from the top of the hill were already pretty great. Seoul is huge!! Check out that apartment density near the river!! This is the South view.

We stayed until sunset so we could see the twinkling city. North view!

We also did a brief tour of the printer and toner district of Seoul, a little shopping, ate BBQ, and let Rose win a game of Seven Wonders ;). BIG DAY!!

 

I really enjoyed last years cider advent calendar, but I didn’t want to order it again if the ciders were going to be the same. So instead Scott made me one himself! What a good egg. He put together a great mix, many of which I had never tried before.

Here are my thoughts, again mostly for my own reference.

  • Mercury Draught Cider – 8/10 – better than I expected, pretty normal tasting, not too sweet
  • Pipsqueak Apple Cider – 9/10 – dry, tart, natural taste, great
  • Rekorderlig Apple Cider – 1/10 – smells like nail polish remover and doesn’t taste any better, couldn’t finish
  • Saxton Apple Cider – 8/10 – a bit funky like French cider
  • Montague Cider House – can’t remember
  • Monteith’s Crushed Apple Cider – 7/10 – a bit sweet

  • 5 Seeds Crisp Apple Cider – 8/10 – fine
  • The Cider Lab Pink Lady Apple – 6.5/10 – ok. a little sweet, a little artificial tasting
  • Orchard Thieves Apple Cider – can’t remember
  • Spring Cider Co Apple & Pomegranate – 5/10 – this is cider watered down 50% with soda water, tastes fine but gets a half score for only being half cider
  • Strongbow Dry – 8/10 – fine
  • Pressman’s Original All Australian Apple Cider – 8/10 – very apple juice-y, nice

  • Little Green Apple Cider – 3/10 – nooooo, fake apple flavour, sweet, like Sommersby (my least favourite cider ever)
  • Bonamy’s Apple Cider – 6/10 – don’t like it that much, don’t know why exactly
  • Willie Smith Bone Dry Apple Cider – 7/10 – dry but not sure about fermented flavour

  • Twisted Sister Apple Cider – can’t remember
  • Batlow Cloudy Cider – 8/10 – good
  • James Squire Orchard Crush Apple – 8/10 – tart, has chunks, I still like it

  • Cheeky Rascal Passionfruit Cider – 6/10 – fine I guess, a little passionfruit flavour, sweet
  • Sunshack Feijoa Elderflower Cider – 6/10 – i just don’t think i really like feijoa or elderflower
  • Dr. Pilkington’s Miracle Cider – 9/10 – light taste, refreshing AF
  • Renberg Apple – 7/10 – Aldi version of Rekordelig, tastes ok
  • Cheeky Rascal Apple Lime Mint Chilli – 6/10 – not as spicy as i hoped