Seoul: Sticks Of Odeng

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Odeng, or fishcake, is one of my favourite street food in Korea.

I love eating a stick of odeng while standing at a hawker stand on the streets, followed by sipping a piping hot cup of  umami odeng soup. In most places, a stick of odeng costs only KRW1,000.

Hoards of people crowding around a street hawker stand in Singapore, tucking into delicious and cheap street food is a scene that we do not see in Singapore.

 

Postcard From Seoul: A Quaint Country Doll Shop In Ihwadong

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This is Elisen, the talented Korean lady who makes the raggedy dolls and other handicrafts sold in g{i}ven, the shop that she runs in Ihwadong. She has a blog but it is in Korean, and I don’t read or speak the language.

I will take care of the two dolls that I bought from you! πŸ™‚

The beautiful dolls, purses and patchwork quilts made by her.  I bought two dolls from her, but would have loved to bring back more! The shop brings out the inner child in me.

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Elisen’s shop is lovely – very English. Anybody who appreciates hand-made dolls will enjoy visiting her shop. She attached a map showing the location of her shop in her  blog, but the map is also in Korean. I don’t have her shop’s address in English but it is located directly opposite this staircase, along the road that leads towards Naksan Park.

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Seoul: Street Art In Ihwadong (Part II)

From the P-turn, we kept walking straight up until we saw this yellow wall painting on our left.  It was a shame to have a lorry block our view of the sunny wall painting that day. *ARGH*

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We turned right at this spot and spotted this pretty ‘Flower Staircase’. It is a lovely photo spot, isn’t it?

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Art, or graffiti? It is all a matter of perspective.

Some degree of graffiti does anyone hardly any harm, does it? Dspecially if they are sketches such as theses. There are times when I wished we didn’t clean off the graffiti painted on our MRT trains by those two vandals some time back.

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We climbed up the steep flight of steps up the ‘Flower Staircase’, saw more quirky wall murals, got totally lost in the back alleys.

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At this point, we backtracked, going down the ‘Flower Staircase’ to the place where we saw the yellow wall painting that was blocked by the lorry, and continued walking straight ahead. Then we looked right and saw another pretty staircase!

I like that these wall paintings do not look contrived and harmonize well with the surroundings.  I am impressed that the Korean government went to such lengths to jazz up an old neighbourhood, and I hope the rustic charm of this place will not disappear if this area gets redeveloped.

Is that a painting of a fish, or a bird…?

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Just across the alley from this staircase is g{i}ven, a quaint little shop that sells hand-made dolls crafted by the owner.

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We took fairly long break here, where we had coffee, oohed and aahed over the beautiful hand-made country dolls, quilts, purses, bags, etc. As expected, we didn’t leave the shop empty-handed.  WE COULDN’T HAVE…!

More photos of the handicrafts in this shop later on.

More posts on Street Art In Ihwadong here:

Street Art In Ihwadong (Part I)

Street Art In Ihwadong (Part III)

A Quaint Doll Shop In Ihwadong

Peekture: Not Yet Spring, Still Winter

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Early this year, we booked our trip to Seoul expecting to see spring in early April, only to find out that spring was delayed.

It was still a winter landscape in Seoul: bare trees, frightfully cold winds, low temperatures.

While we were slightly disappointed at not being able to catch the springtime scenery with lots of greenery, spring flowers and cherry blossoms, we managed to catch sight of flowers in their buds, on the verge of blooming, and new shoots emerging from the ground.

Seoul: Street Art In Ihwadong (Part I)

We spent most of our first day exploring Ihwadong around the Naksan Park area. It was a super cold and windy day, and I was shivering under my coat all the time, secretly hoping for the sun to come out and give me some warmth.

Ihwadong is one of the last few daldongnae in Seoul – poor hillside neighbourhoods with narrow, curving alleyways and steep flights of concrete steps. Walking around Ihwadong is like visiting an open-air art gallery. In 2006, the government organised a public art project to revive the old neighbourhood. Local residents in Ihwadong teamed up with artists to put up lots of interesting and eye-catching artwork – art installations, murals, wall paintings, public signages – in various spots from Hyehwa subway station leading up to Naksan Park and on the way down to the subway station.

Using social-economic reference points, the Ihwadong neighbourhood might be old and humble, but to me, it is aesthetically charming and very quaint. Having seen the lovely and expensive hanoks in Bukchon and the huge private residences in Samcheong-dong, visiting Ihwadong provided us with an insight into the living quarters of another group of residents in Seoul.

I enjoyed trudging the narrow winding lanes and and up and down the steep flights of concrete steps in the neighbourhood (sans the wind), anticipating the next artwork I may see when I turn a corner.  We had planned to spend a couple of hours in Ihwadong, but ended up staying there for nearly a day.

In finding our way up Naksan Park, we relied on a colleague’s set of photographs containing various artworks to guide us along. I am going to do the same; retracing the steps we took on our outing to Ihwadong, which will hopefully also serve as a guide for any of my friends who are keen to visit Ihwadong. I don’t think we saw everything there is to see in Ihwadong during this trip, so a repeat visit is definitely on the cards, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

As this is going to be a loooooong (*yawn*) post with plenty of photographs, I will have to split this up into two to three separate posts.  Part I is the boring bit though.

Here we go…!

We took the subway to Hyehwa Station at Line 2, left the station using Exit 2 and sighted this piece of artwork right away.  It is actually a ticket box office of a theatre in that area.

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We walked past the ticket box office and went straight ahead for about 10 to 15 mins. And saw these artworks and buildings along the way.

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These poop-like structures are quite cute.  We continued walking.

“New thinking, new possibilities”. I like that.

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We passed by Domino’s Pizza where we had our toilet break – the staff in Domino’s were kind enough to give us keys to their bathroom. We continued walking, enjoying the Korean street scenery and snapped photographs of all the interesting artwork that we saw.

We turned left at this convenience shop called Mini Stop.  Right in front of us was a big traffic intersection. After turning left, we walked straight on, where we could see the road starting to slope upwards, about 500m ahead.

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After turning left at the convenience store, we saw this 24-hour Korean eatery on our right.  The food on the posters looked delicious and I was tempted to stop for a big bowl of steaming hot soup to warm my frozen insides.

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Strolling along, we saw this barbershop on our right. Look at the colouful exterior! You cannot miss the shop which has such a eye-catching facade.  I wonder what the inside of the barbershop looks like.  *kicks myself for not opening the door to take a peek*  When I am feeling very cold, the brain tends to become a little slow on the uptake.

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By the time you pass the garish barbershop, the road starts to incline upwards.

As we walked, we turned back and saw this big wall painting of a man and a woman. I read that they were workers in the needle/sewing industry as Naksan was home to many sewing factories in the past. I suppose this painting is to remind people of Naksan’s history.

This is the point when the wall paintings and murals start to appear…!

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Shortly after passing the wall painting, we approached a bridge with murals and paintings on both sides of the wall.

The whimsical sketches on these powder blue walls were drawn on tiles, and we lingered around for a while admiring the sketches.

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Under the bridge.

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Exiting the bridge, we see these.

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At this point, the road starts to wind upwards. We spot a signage with a ‘snail’ telling people to go slowly.

And that’s my reflection in the mirror.

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We followed the curve of the road, then I sat down for a breather with this view in front of me, hoping to continue walking along the road shortly after.

Then we spotted a cat and started chasing after it, going in the opposite direction of this road, into the back alleys of the residential houses.

This is the well-known P-turn in Ihwadong that many photographers like to photograph at night at one one of the alleyways seen in the top of the picture.

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More posts on Street Art In Ihwadong here:

Street Art In Ihwadong (Part II)

Street Art In Ihwadong (Part III)

A Quaint Doll Shop In Ihwadong

Seoul: Gamjatang At Onedang In Myeongdong

The first thing we did after checking into our hotel at Myeongdong – the Ibis Myeongdong – was to look for a place to have dinner. For a long time, we have been experiencing massive cravings for good Korean food and drew up a mental list of must-eats during this trip.

There were sooooooo many things that we wanted to eat, but decided on gamjatang at Onedang, an eatery located somewhere in Myeongdong near the KEB Plaza (on the side of Myeongdong that is closer to the Eujiro 1-ga subway station or Chonggyecheon stream). A steaming pot of spicy soup was exactly what we needed after stepping off the plane and to warm us up in the cold weather.

We visted this eatery during our last trip in 2010 and thought it was good enough to merit a repeat visit.

Back to gamjatang, a spicy pork bone and potato stew.

We ordered the smallest-sized portion, which came in a big pot containing four thick pieces of pork bone with meat so flavourful and tender that chunks of it were falling off the bone, and loads of mountain vegetables and Korean vermicelli that I love. The spicy broth was as wonderful as we remember it to be, except that it was a bit too salty and we felt immensely thirsty after the meal.

I had some soju with my dinner too, and that probably added to the feeling of thirst.

A pot of gamjatang, before mixing and cooking the ingredients. I love the perilla leaves that are added to the stew because they lend a lovely flavour to the dish.

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After mixing and cooking all the ingredients into the spicy broth.

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As the broth boils down, it starts to thicken and you can add rice or noodles to finish off the meal. We were too stuffed and gave this a miss.

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Looking at these picture make me want another pot of gamjatang right now.

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Shopfront of Onedang.  I forgot to mention that this eatery is open 24 hours. I really should get myself a map of Myeongdong and pencil in the locations of all the yummy eateries that we have visited in this shopping and eating belt.

Edit: The shop has moved away from this location.  I have to find out where it has moved to! 

Updated on 22 Jul 2014: Oh man, contrary to what I said before, this store has not moved away from its old location in Myeongdong.  It just underwent some renovation, and is now back in business.  I am soooooo happy!  OneDang is directly opposite Hotel Skypark Myeongdong and Cafe Droptop (between Ediya Coffee and 7-11)

Peekture: Hamburger Steak At Ma Maison

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I love hamburger steaks. The presentation of my plate of hamburger steak at Ma Maison is pretty.

The first time I ate one was during a trip to Tokyo more than 10 years ago. My friend who loves hamburger steak insisted that I order one, but refused to tell me what it was all about. This crazy friend of mine eats her hamburger steak with a side order of rice.

I cannot remember what I was expecting of a ‘hamburger steak’ but it definitely was not a naked beef patty drenched in a brown sauce. It looked nothing like a steak, and if it was a ‘hamburger’, where were the buns…?!

A Good Weekend In Melaka: Milk Crabs At Restoran Lee

We ate milk crabs at Restoran Lee (also known as Fei Li), an old coffeeshop located along Jln Munshi Abdullah, across the road from Bayview Hotel. They were very, very delicious!

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Crabs cooked in milk, resulting in a thick, slightly salty-sweet sauce, were very tasty, especially when you dip piping hot buns in the sauce. This is Restoran Lee’s signature dish.

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We stumbled upon this coffeeshop when we stayed at the Bayview Hotel during our last trip to Melaka. We were looking for a place to have dinner, and ventured into this coffeeshop across the road for some zichar. At the recommendation of the coffeeshop’s staff, we ordered the milk crabs and Thai curry crabs. Both dishes were excellent.

It was on this trip when we learnt that Restoran Lee is famous in Melaka, and decided to return to the coffeeshop to ‘whack’ more milk crabs. It was a shame that the eatery were short on crabs that day, and limited each table’s order to only TWO crabs.

TWO MISERABLE CRABS. For eight people. *sniffs*

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We didn’t just eat crabs, but many other dishes. They were all quite good, but nothing beats the milk crabs. The street food in Malaysia is so good and cheap! Not that I am complaining, but I have to accept the fact that good hawker food may cease to exist in Singapore one of these days, and those that are still in business will probably charge quite a bit for their food. Afterall, how many people in the younger generation wants to wield the ladle and take over their parents’ hawker stalls and recipes?

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