Jeju: Glass House On Phoenix Island By Tadao Ando

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The Mint Restaurant is located in the Glass House, a visually stunning glass-metal-concrete building designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.¬†I love minimalist pristine-looking structures made of concrete, glass and metal. ūüôā The Glass House is part of Phoenix Island, a golfing resort located at Seopjikopji.

Before I went to Jeju for the first time, I thought it was just a scenic island getaway for Koreans and tourists. I have also not heard very exciting comments about the place from friends who have been there. Some tell me that it is rather dull.

To me, Jeju is ‘in-your-face’ Beautiful. Raw. Unbridled. Powerful.

It makes me want to go back and explore more of it. Huge spaces with wild reeds growing abundantly everywhere, strong coastal winds, a rocky coastline littered with black porous volcanic rocks, blue-green waters, oreums, windmills and vast fields with blooming yellow rapeseed flowers.

What surprised me about the island wasn’t just its natural beauty, but how ‘architecturally rich’ it is. There are so many stunning architectural creations that can be found in many parts of the island. There is the Glass House by Tadao Ando, the Angora by Mario Bota, the PODO Hotel Pinx by Itami Jun and many more that I have seen on various websites and coffee table books but have not had the chance to see in person.

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I think I should spend a couple of days at the Phoenix Island resort next time. It is a perfect chill-out place.

Jeju: Mint Restaurant In Phoenix Island

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I think I posted a photo of this restaurant some time ago. But I want to post it again, because it is such a pretty glass building.

I have seen this restaurant in several Korean dramas. I was charmed by the gorgeous ocean views offered by the restaurant, and I really wanted to go and see the place for myself.

So when I decided to go to Jeju, I looked around on the Internet to find the name and exact location of this restaurant. It is called Mint Restaurant, located in a huge golf-and-housing complex known as Phoenix Island at the eastern end of Jeju Island, near Soepjikoji.

As our resort is located on the opposite end of Jeju, we hired a cab to drive us to Phoenix Island.  the driver waited for us while we ate lunch and strolled around the complex before sending us back.

The ocean views seen through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows of Mint are STUNNING. Makes you want to linger in the restaurant for as long as you can. I can imagine how gorgeous views of the sunrises and sunsets will be, seen from the restaurant.

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Another view of the interior of the Mint Restaurant.

Esquina: A Spanish Tapas Bar

What did I do on Valentine’s Day? I had a surprisingly scrumptious lunch at Esquina, a casual Spanish tapas bar located at Teck Lim Road (the road perpendicular to Keong Saik Road) with a friend.

We were quite fortunate to have gotten a table because the bar is pretty much a hole-in-the-wall and does not take reservations. Esquina resembles a ship’s alley, and like a Japanese sushi bar, has its diners seated around a counter where they can watch the chefs work.

Previously, I did say that I was never going to step into a tapas bar in Singapore ever again. Well, I take back my words. That is probably why people say ‘never say never’!

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Esquina has a small menu, categorised as appetisers, meats, desserts and drinks. We ordered croquettas, bone marrow, aged Angus steak, rabbit and seafood paella and a sangria poached fruit crumble. We also each ordered a glass of carva, a Spanish sparkling wine.

Portions are small, as expected of tapas. But we filled up nicely after several servings. What we liked about the food here is that the tapas are interesting, and more importantly, well-made using ingredients that are fresh and of good quality. I shall not mention certain tapas places that I have been to which served me fried chicken wings.

It is always fun and educational to eat with my friend. Because he is knowledgeable about quite a number of cuisines, he will usually ‘dissect and analyse his food’ and provide a commentary about the type of ingredients used, the method of preparation, the region where the food that we are eating originated from and how it is probably prepared differently in a different region.

Gangneung: Hwedupbap at Gyeongpo

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My first pit-stop in Korea was Gyeongpo beach in Gangneung.

After I arrived in Gyeongpo in the afternoon and checked into the hotel, I wandered around the Gyeongpo beach-front area, looking for a place amongst the many seafood restaurants for a place to have a late lunch.

I chose an eatery whose owner could speak a smattering of English, and he recommended that I try the¬†hwedupbap. It’s a Korean rice bowl with raw fish, vegetables and¬†gochu-chang.

That was the first time I ate hwedupbap and it was delicious Рthe raw fish was very fresh and came in thick chunks while the banchan contained most of my favourite side dishes.

These days, whenever I have a craving for hwedupbap, I head to Bukang Tuna at the Red Dot Traffic Building at Tanjong Pagar.

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A long row of seafood shops along the beach-front of Gyeongpo beach.

Postcard From Korea

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My 5-week trip around South Korea happened in November 2010, more than one year ago.  I have been remiss in putting up posts of the trip.

*Procrastinate, procrastinating, procrastinated* 

I feel it is a little too late now to write a long-winded story about the entire trip on this blog.¬†¬†I¬†have decided¬†to put up selected photos of each place that I visited and write a ‘postcard message’ for each photo. So that I don’t forget where I went, what I saw, who I met and what I ate during that trip.¬†

Maybe I should write the message Twitter-style Рno more than 140 characters per message!

¬†* Picture from VisitKorea’s website.¬† My route is marked out in blue and red:

Seoul > Gangwon-do > Jeju-do > Jeollabuk-do > Jeollanam-do > Gyeongsangbuk-do > Seoul

 

Peekture: Strawberry Jelly Hearts On Valentine’s Day

I don’t do Valentine’s Day. I cannot even bring myself to use the word ‘celebrate’. All the commercial cheesiness revolving around Valentine’s Day – exorbitantly-priced and frequently ugly flower bouquets, candlelit Valentine’s Day set dinners, men trotting around carrying heart-shaped balloons – makes my skin crawl.

When I was studying in VJC, 14 February was known as Friendship Day. Performances would be put up by various groups in the canteen and common areas, a singing group would accept song dedications and move from one lecture theatre to another singing songs dedicated to various individuals, and one could buy roses at flower stands for a fairly decent price. I remember the school atmosphere on 14 February to be wonderful Рit was like being at a carnival.  Awwww, I miss my college days.

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Like every year, I am staying clear of restaurants and shopping malls tomorrow, and I will try not to spit at anyone who asks me if I am “celebrating Valentine’s Day”.

For the fun of it, I decided to make these jelly hearts and eat them tomorrow. ¬†I am addicted to these things! ¬†Although I prefer eating this dessert without the strawberries, I decided to add the heart-shaped strawberries since it is Valentine’s Day. ¬†They look a little messy with jagged edges, I know!

Peekture: Osso Bucco

Dinner tonight. Delicious home-made osso bucco by C. Ate it with spaghettini, topped with a fried egg.

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I am thoroughly spoilt by friends who cook so well, I just leech off them. ūüôā

It was a good weekend. Today, I started a new Japanese class with a really funny teacher. He talks non-stop and cracks all sorts of un-PC jokes in class. Despite my initial reservations about joining the class, I think I am going to be having fun.

Peekture: Tossing Fish Salad

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Now that I am no longer entitled to collecting red packets, what I love most about Chinese New Year now is yusheng.

If I could, I would eat yusheng EVERY DAY throughout the 14-day Chinese New Year period.

In the last couple of years, my favourite place to eat yusheng is Imperial Treasure restaurant. Ths sauce is soooo good! Gonna eat as much yusheng as I can before Chinese New Year ends on Monday.

Tokyo Getaway: Bits & Pieces

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^ Omotesando. One of my favourite places in Tokyo to take a stroll, window-shop, people-watch. I love how charming old and modern buildings are jumbled together on both sides of the boulevard.

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I like murals. I wish we had more displays of such artistic endeavours in our own subway stations.

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^ Late lunch at an izakaya in one of the alleys behind the Asakusa temple.

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^ Strolling along the suburbs in Mitaka, enjoying the lovely weather after our visit to the Ghibli Museum.

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^ Bright red lanterns in Kabukicho.

Peekture: OUAM Milkshakes

Milkshakes from Once Upon A Milkshake. Courtesy of Groupon!

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I have recently joined the Groupon craze, turning into what some people term as ‘a Groupon aunty’, one who is constantly on the prowl for cheap deals. ¬†A fellow Groupon-addict friend tells me that she gets mildly depressed whenever her ‘Groupon inventory runs low…’!

Most of the Groupons that I have purchased so far relate to food (such as Meritus Mandarin’s Christmas log cake and salmon yusheng, shabu-shabu meat from Four Seasons Gourmet Market) and services (such as massages).

I think the Groupon deals are quite good, especially if they relate to those F&B outlets which you frequent or would like to try out as well as services which you usually purchase or is thinking about purchasing.  I like OUAM milkshakes alot so this Groupon was a MUST-BUY for me.  I still have another three OUAM Groupons Рnow that there is an outlet which is five minutes from my home, it is so convenient to go out and indulge my cravings for OUAM with these Groupons.

I look forward to checking my iPhone Groupon app every morning to see what kind of deals are up for grabs. ¬†Hmmmm, should I get the Komala’s Restaurant Groupon, or not…?

Peekture: Gomtang

There is a new Korean eatery near my office which serves soups such as gomtang and soondae gukbap for lunch.

I rarely see these soups printed on the menu in the Korean eateries that I usually visit (which isn’t that many to start with…)

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The gomtang broth was very tasty, especially after adding a little salt to it.  I was very tempted to pour my bowl of rice into the broth,  porridge-style and gobble everything up.

I am heading back very soon, to try the soondae gukbap. I lurrrrve to eat soondae!

I have a long list of Korean food that I MUST eat when I go to Seoul in April. I definitely need more than one stomach to eat everything.  Before that, I am going to have a huge pig-out session with friends this weekend at Hyang-to-gol.

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