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Seoul: Jung Sik Dang In Gangnam

 photo IMG_7178-151130-v2__zpsnzadkkih.jpgI love Korean food. Whenever I visit Korea, I have it for breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner.  This is the reason why my husband rarely travels with me to Korea on my annual trips – he does not enjoy spicy Korean food, or the BBQ meats.  If we went together, we would have to eat our meals separately.  I will eat yukgaejang and gamjatang for dinner while he goes off and finds himself a Japanese curry place, or an Italian restaurant.

To get him to agree to go with me on my next trip to Korea, I agreed that we would have at most one Korean meal a day, and preferably, in a restaurant that serves contemporary Korean cuisine.  (Gawd, I should just leave him at home.)  I eat street food and the local eateries in Korea, so besides Paul Gagnaire’s restaurant in Lotte Hotel, I have no idea which are the fine-dining restaurants in Seoul that serves modern Korean cuisine.  I set out to find some.

I did some research and came across a review of Jung Sik Dang‘s modern Korean cuisine in NYC.  The review was very positive and it also touched on the restaurant’s second branch in Seoul.  So I decided to make a lunch reservation during my last trip to Seoul in November.  The Korean branch is also on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list (if such accolades matter to you).

 photo IMG_7177-151130-v2__zpsagk11fqv.jpgI like the interior of Jung Sik Dang.  Modern, classy, tasteful.  It is clearly a place where corporate executives and ladies-of-leisure meet for lunch.  I was the only single foreign woman in the restaurant and for someone who is used to eating alone in restaurants, felt strangely out of place.

I ordered the 8-course tasting menu and a glass of Chenin Blanc from Domain Huet Vouvray.  The white wine, recommended by the sommelier, was delicious!  The staff spoke English and like any fine-dining establishment, explained each course clearly when serving me.

 photo IMG_0495-160415-v2__zpsz4shjmrh.jpgFirst course – espuma and snacks.

 photo IMG_0497-160415-v2__zpskgyimirt.jpgThe rest of the courses.  Mushroom soup.  Some kind of fish from Jeju.  Fillet mignon.  Octopus.  Pan-fried tuna.  Sea urchin with kimchi.  Desserts.  Every course was well-made and delicious.  I could not decide whether the octopus or the sea urchin was my favorite.

I had a trio of desserts: sujeonggwa sorbet (I love sujeonggwa.) to clean the palate, followed by a pretty dessert (I cannot recall what it is now) which they call the Rose of Versailles.  The last and the best of all,  a Korean ginseng ice-cream cone to accompany a cup of ginseng tea.

 photo IMG_7206-151130-v2__zps2sl5e4nf.jpg

I was so happy I decided to go with the 8-course tasting menu.  The portions were perfect and I did not feel too full at the end of the meal.  I enjoyed myself so much that I am definitely going back the next time I am in Seoul.  I am going to try their Choice Menu next.  I see some items (such as the pork belly and croaker) on this menu that look exciting.

The ambience was good, the service was great, and the food was excellent.  However, it all came with a fairly steep price tag.  This is a place that I am pretty sure the husband will enjoy.  

After lunch, I headed off to the Hangang River Park for a looooong walk.

Jung Sik Dang
Address:83-24, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
Opening Hours:
Lunch: 12:00PM – (Last order: 14:00PM) everyday
Dinner: 17:30PM -(Last order: 21:00PM) everyday

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Seoul: Cha Masineun Tteul Teahouse In Bukchon

 photo IMG_6976-151127-v2__zpsjuvv1oyz.jpgI enjoy walking around the Bukchon and Samcheong-dong area, looking at the old hanoks, some of which are still residential property while others have been converted into shops.  It is a place where the old juxtaposes against the new – you can look down into the hip and trendy Samcheong-dong while walking along certain stretches of Bukchon.  The walk can be a bit of a strain as it involves climbing a fairly steep hill from the street level up to Bukchon.  Makes me wonder how people in the Joseon days do it.

I like going to this shop in Bukchon called Granhand that sells handmade perfumes, scents diffusers, room sprays, aromatherapy oils.  I went there recently to stock up on their lovely Vivian Ward grapefruit-scented diffuser and room spray.  On the way down to Samcheong-dong, I visited a beautiful teahouse called Cha Masineun Tteul (which translates into “a garden where people drink tea”).  I drink way too much coffee whenever I am in Seoul, and it is a nice change to have some tea.  This is the first time I have been to Cha Masineun Tteul even though I have read much about it in travel blogs.  I usually visit my regular teahouse in Insadong for a piping hot cup of ginger tea.

 photo IMG_7003-151127-v2__zpswjxjpuvo.jpgThe teahouse is very pretty.  The sitting area encircles a little courtyard garden, offering guests a view of a lily pond and plants while sipping a cup of tea and nibbling on Korean snacks.

 photo IMG_6975-151127-v2__zps9gm6rxex.jpgI don’t really appreciate Korean snacks so I ordered a cup of ginger tea to warm myself up as the weather was very cold.  I love the lily-shaped cup that the teahouse used to serve the ginger tea!

Cha Masineun Tteul
Address: Samcheong-dong 35-169, Jongno-gu

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Seoul: Blüte Cafe In Hongdae

 photo IMG_7010-151128-v2__zps1deyyke5.jpgI have seen Blüte being featured on a number of travel and lifestyle blogs as a beautiful garden-themed cafe in Seoul.  I have never been there so during the November trip to Seoul, I dropped by Blüte on an early Saturday morning, intending to have brunch and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had the cafe all to myself (unlike Singapore where people throng to cafes during weekends at hours as early as 8am).  Unfortunately, I was too early for brunch (available from 11am onwards) so I could only have a cup of coffee.

Most of the addresses on the Internet still show Blüte to be located at its old premises in Hannamdong, and I would have headed there if not for the fact that I double-checked the address geo-tagged to a recent Instagram photo of Blüte that I had seen on my feed.  (Phew!) Blute is now located in Hongdae, and just a short stroll from Sangsu subway station.

 photo IMG_7014-151128-v2__zpsshrmankc.jpgA postcard-pretty view of the garden once you enter the grounds of the cafe.  It must be very nice to sit out on the veranda during spring and autumn.

 photo IMG_7012-151128-v2__zpsiopmqku5.jpgThat is a lot of gardening to do on a cold, wintry morning.

 photo IMG_7027-151128-v2__zpstk7rlhiu.jpg photo IMG_7024-151128-v2__zpswk3vwee2.jpgSpacious interiors which are beautifully dressed up in a whimsical decor of potted green plants, dried flowers, retro and vintage furniture.  This cafe reminds me of Shop Wonderland at Haji Lane.

 photo IMG_7022-151128-v2__zpsnpnflli5.jpg photo IMG_7020-151128-v2__zpsv6kza8tq.jpgThis is a really pretty spot for chilling out with a book and a cup of coffee.  It is really a woman’s sort of place, eh? I cannot imagine men hanging out with their buddies in this space.

 photo IMG_7018-151128-v2__zpsv3pskojp.jpg photo IMG_7031-151128-v2__zpspigqyvxi.jpg photo IMG_7029-151128-v2__zps1ntu3y5k.jpg photo IMG_7017-151128-v2__zpsz9jjatmr.jpgThe lovely garden shed out in the garden.

 photo IMG_7082-151128-v2__zps4cmt9izu.jpg photo IMG_7084-151128-v2__zpsfgaok8ut.jpgThe entire place feels so magical, made even more so by the autumnal colors in the shrubs, and it feels as though I have been transported to a different world, one that you read of in children’s books like Alice In Wonderland.

Blüte
Address: 12, Wausan-ro 14-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Directions: Alight at exit 2 of Sangsu Station (Line 6)

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Seoul: Gwangjang Market

 photo IMG_7114-151128-v2__zps1bzmpxwj.jpgSo glad to be typing away in this blog again.  Something went wrong at the back-end of my blog on Christmas Eve and it has taken me over a month to get it up and running again, including moving the website to a new web-host.

Seoul has got some really interesting markets where stall-holders sell cooked food, fresh food, dry goods, kitchenware, clothes, fabrics and all sorts of stuff for the home (like bedding and curtains).  The market that I frequent whenever I am in Seoul is the Namdaemun market.  I like to visit the stationery shops to pick up crafting materials and haberdasheries for ribbons, buttons, fabrics and what-not.  If I feel sufficiently hungry (or greedy), I would visit one of the cramped and narrow food alleys in Namdaemum for a meal of kimchi jigae or a bowl of kalguksu.

I have been meaning to visit Gwangjang market – possibly one of the most famous food markets with tourists due to its regular appearances in Korean reality shows – and finally got there this time.  Gwangjang Market is quite near to where I stay in Myeongdong – a couple of stops on the subway or a nice stroll along the Cheongyecheon stream.

 photo IMG_7116-151128-v2__zpsvovdcxzq.jpg photo IMG_7096-151128-v2__zpspqtcoftc.jpgI arrived at the market around 3.30pm and well, I do not know what I was expecting, but I certainly did not expect to see the market packed with people at that hour of the day.  The non-food section of the market was fairly quiet but the food section was so crowded I had to literally push my way through.  There was no space for me to compose photographs using my iPhone, and I just snapped whatever photos I could without even looking at the iPhone screen.  Glad that I managed to capture several decent-looking photos with random snapping and people pushing me from behind.

The food section of the market was separated into different alleys specializing specific types of food. Such as bindaetteok which I learnt is Korean mung bean pancakes containing spring onions, kimchi, ground pork. I like eating jeon but have never tried bindaetteok, only because the sight of pancakes frying in oil makes me less inclined to eat it.

 photo IMG_7115-151128-v2__zps2seuwk21.jpgMost of the food stalls in Gwangjang have a small counter where you can sit down and eat your food, provided you can find a seat and do not mind being squashed between strangers.  The above stall sells street food such as gimbap, odaeng, tteokbokki and soondae.

 photo IMG_7159-151128-v2__zpswytp8zcq.jpgPiles of kimchi.

 photo IMG_8770-151128-v2__zps9q7sak8k.jpg photo IMG_7108-151128-v2__zpsaxrsk569.jpgI was not particularly hungry but I just wanted to eat S-O-M-E-T-H-I-N-G, to further soak in the experience of being in the market.  I walked past alley after alley but could not find a seat anywhere, until I got to a kalguksu stall where I spotted a lady vacating their seats.  I maneuvered myself  with some difficulty into the narrow space between two ahjummas, and ordered a bowl of kalguksu.  I love Korean hand-cut noodles, especially the ones cooked in a clam or seafood broth, and I eat them with lots of kimchi.

 photo IMG_8771-151128-v2__zpsh8qx8lqv.jpg photo IMG_7326-151128-v2__zpsdiwzwkxe.jpg

Look at that pile of mandu.  I was very tempted to order some to go with my bowl of kalguksu but having eaten like four meals during the course of the day, it was not a good idea to consume more food.  I was so stuffed from eating the kalguksu, I had to take a 30-min walk back to the hotel, which would have been a lovely thing to do if not for the fact that I was getting a bad case of indigestion from over-eating.  I nearly wanted to buy a pin from a shop in the market to pierce my finger to relieve the discomfort, like how you see Koreans do it in Korean dramas.

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Seoul: Namusairo Coffee in Gwanghwamun

 photo IMG_6931-151127-v2__zpsziv0eqj8.jpgIf you are in the Gwanghwamun/Gyeongbokgung neighborhood and looking for excellent coffee in a charming hanok-setting, Namusairo Coffee is the place to head to.  I love the vibe of this space, and the wood-panels are gorgeous.  

I was so charmed by the inner courtyard, I forgot to take photos of the front of the cafe.  

 photo IMG_7642-151127-v2__zpshbutl0gg.jpg photo IMG_6932-151127-v2__zpsdeqjrrkd.jpgThat’s me, trying to style my photo with fallen gingko leaves. This is a great coffee stop, in between the Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Gyeonghuigung Palace, if you are doing the palace rounds on the same day.

Namusairo Coffee
Address: 71 Naesu-dong, Jongno-gu.
Hours: 10am to 10pm
Directions:  Exit #7, Gyeongbokgung Station (orange line), or Exit #8, Gwanghwamun Station (purple line)

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Seoul: Chawoongga In Hongdae

 photo IMG_7656-151128-v2__zpssybivgzy.jpgI had lunch in Chawoongga,  a restaurant housed in this beautiful hanok  with a courtyard garden in hippy Hongdae.  The restaurant serves traditional Korean food such as bibimbap, soups and stews.   

 photo IMG_7655-151128-v2__zpsb74t44jh.jpg photo IMG_7657-151128-v2__zpsr8kvskoo.jpgInitially, I wanted to brave the cold and eat my meal in the beautiful courtyard, but just standing there for 5 minutes snapping photos was enough to give me stiff fingers.  So into the restaurant I went.

 photo IMG_7658-151128-v2__zpsiaqhwbxs.jpg photo IMG_7659-151128-v2__zpsyruldaqo.jpgI am not such a cam-whore that I take photos in lavatories, but I couldn’t resist snapping the above when I was using the bathroom.  This is the pretty picture that you see while sitting on the toilet-bowl.  LOL.

 photo IMG_7650-151128-v2__zpskqunsr80.jpg photo IMG_7660-151128-v2__zpslwfn4gs5.jpgView of the courtyard from the inside of the restaurant.  Imagine how pretty it would all look if it had snowed then.

 photo IMG_7652-151128-v2__zpsdfjfuilr.jpgI ordered the sea squirt bibimbap.  The meal was served and elegant copper bowl filled with loads of fresh vegetables, omelette and what looked like alfalfa sprouts (yucks!).  The bibimbap tasted so fresh, crunchy and wholesome, and I was so pleased that they gave me acorn jelly as ban-chan.

 photo IMG_7653-151128-v2__zpskxobbd2s.jpg photo IMG_7654-151128-v2__zpsmzrrgfol.jpgToss it all up and tuck in.  Piles of sea-squirt.  My first time eating this and it was quite tasty.  Not as strong tasting as sea-urchin but with a similar texture.

 photo IMG_7651-151128-v2__zpssibshk4i.jpgI think this is a good place to rest your legs and fuel yourselves up with simple yet refine Korean food before you explore Hongdae.  

Chawoongga
Address: 20-12, Jandari-ro Mapo-gu Seoul 121-893 Directions: Take the subway to Hapjeong Station, exit #3., or Sangsu, exit #1 and follow the directions in the map below.

Opening Hours: 12pm to 10pm.

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Seoul: Yukdaejang In Myeongdong

 photo IMG_7645-151130-v2__zps7tgnbr1k.jpgI am so pleased to have found an excellent yukgaejang restaurant in Myeongdong (near the main road where Shinsaegae is).  I love eating Korean spicy beef soup, especially the wild vegetables that go into the soup.  I have not tried a yukgaejang in Seoul that wasn’t hearty and tasty, but Yukdaejang’s is the best that I have eaten so far.  

 photo IMG_7646-151130-v2__zpsdilhgfbe.jpgWhat makes Yukdaejang’s spicy beef soup different from most of the others is the creamy texture of the soup.  I would describe the taste as a spicy version of seolleongtang that is very smooth, creamy and flavorful.  A bowl of yukgaejang costs W8,000.  It is a huge bowl with generous portions of ingredients.  I declined the bowl of rice that comes with the meal because it was impossible to find space in my stomach for rice.

Yukdaejang
Address: 45, Myeongdong 8na-Gil, Jung-Gu, Seoul, Korea
Directions: Exit #5 at the Myeongdong Station and walk straight, along the main road till you see a side road which is Myeongdong 2-gil.  Turn right into Myeongdong 2-gil and walk until you see a 7-11.  Turn left onto Myeongdong 8-gil and Yukdaejang is on your left.

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Seoul: Dumulmeori In Yangpyeong

People always ask me why I don’t get bored visiting Seoul at least once every year.  Somehow, I always manage to find something new to do, or a new place to visit.  I never seem to run out of things to do in that city. One of the new places that I visited during my last trip is Dumulmeori, a water area outside Seoul where the Bukhangang River and Namhangang River meet.  I learnt about this place from reading Discovering Korea and a blog written by Pheuron Tay, a Singaporean studying in Seoul (btw, her blog is filled with beautiful, dreamy photos).

Dumulmeori (such a mouthful) is in Yangpyeong, about 45 mins away from Seoul by train.  Which is perfect for a day-trip from the city.  Dumulmeori is at the Yangsuri station on the Jungang Line, and from there, I could cycle or walk or cab to Dumulmeori.  I met an ahjusshi on the train who started a conversation with me.  He was a retired teacher, and wanted to practise his spoken Mandarin.  So he started asking me a number of questions, filling in any gaps with the help of the online Korean-Mandarin dictionary in his phone.  I obliged by answering his questions, also with assistance from the English-Korean online dictionary on my phone.  I was extremely amused by the conversation.

 photo FullSizeRender-150529-v2__zpskoye5ccy.jpgI alighted at the Yangsuri station and found myself at a loss as to how to get to Dumulmeori.  Feeling a bit distressed, I wandered around the station for while, then decided to plop myself at one of the eateries outside the station where I ordered a bowl of spicy cold noodles.  OMG, the noodles were excellent.  The eatery did not use the usual chewy buckwheat noodles, but something similar to cha soba.  If I had made a wasted trip, at the very least, I got a good meal out of it.    I asked the ahjumma in the eatery for directions to Dumulmeori.  She kept pointing in one direction, and firing off in rapid Korean which I could not understand a single word of.  Despite my love for Korea, I have never picked up the language beyond the barest of basic phrases. Like – “Dumulmeori, oh-di-so-yo?”  There is hardly any point in asking where is a particular place in Korean, and not being able to comprehend the response.  I decided to take the next train back to the city.

However, the stubborn streak in me refused to give up.  I was really looking forward to seeing this place and I felt annoyed at having to go back “empty-handed”.  Last ditch attempt was to follow a group of ahjummas sporting exercise outfits and ahjumma aviator caps.  I spotted them leaving the station, and took a gamble that they were heading to Dumulmeori.  “Let’s follow them! Hehehe.  Safety in numbers!” 

 photo IMG_2665-150529-v2__zpscidtgyfy.jpgSomewhere along the way, I lost the group of ahjummas after being distracted by a a shop selling succulents, and plodded my way to Dumulmeori alone.  It was a good 20 minute walk from the Yangsuri train station and I managed to find the park.

 photo L1001079-150529-v2__zpsuhmu3rgc.jpg photo L1001123-150529-v2__zpsgzznhg0s.jpgThe entire park has several parts to it and occupies a fairly large area.  I entered Dumulseori at the lotus pond section of the park.  The lotus pond was huge but it was pity that it was not flowering in May.  I strolled along the pond and came to the “waterfront area”.  The view of the waters and the mountains was stunning.

 photo L1001086-150529-v2__zpsqzm5ft2y.jpg photo L1001084-150529-v2__zps9ogtfec9.jpgIt feels so tranquil and peaceful to look at this view.  I could stare at it all day.

 photo 1047a768-13e3-4fd7-bbde-23dd0be544fb_zpsa4eov7ke.jpg photo L1001090-150529-v2__zps9g48jrhu.jpg photo L1001112-150529-v2__zpskilzlfa4.jpgI just finished watching the Korean drama, She Was Pretty (a lousy show and an utter waste of time), and noticed that they filmed a scene in the last episode at Dumulseori. I recognized the rectangular wooden frame in the drama.

It was such a lovely day, I could not resist zoning out for an hour with a can of beer with this view in front of me.

 photo L1001070-150529-v2__zpszzzekx4l.jpgCross this long bridge and you will get to the other side of Dulmulmeori.  More parks and beautiful open spaces to fill up a couple of hours.

 photo L1001145-150529-v2__zpstspf2pin.jpg photo L1001146-150529-v2__zpsstisewsb.jpgDumulmeori is a great day-trip out of Seoul.  Take the Jungang Line and alight at Yangsu Station, then stroll to Dumulmeori.  Wear comfortable shoes and get ready for plenty of walking.

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Seoul: Coffee Libre In Hongdae

 photo IMG_2723-150530-v2__zpszecv1x8i.jpgI have finally tried the coffee from Coffee Libre after putting it off for a while (‘cos it is quite a hike away from the popular area in Hongdae). It is not an easy place to find and I got lost trying to find my way there. Coffee Libre is not the usual hip and cool cafe. It is very tiny, with hardly any sitting space, and looks like a storage room more than a cafe.  Not surprising since its main business is coffee roasting.

 photo IMG_2726-150530-v2__zpsaoyjhx1d.jpgThe cafe does not offer many options – just expresso, Americano, latte, Dutch coffee and hot chocolate.  I was torn between the expresso and Dutch coffee, and went with expresso in the end.  Expresso was very good – very smooth and not too acidic.  I managed to squeeze myself into a small empty space on the bench at the front of the cafe.  It was rather uncomfortable, but it beats standing. 

 photo IMG_2730-150530-v2__zpsn20dakz0.jpgThat is how the rest of the cafe looks like.  Messy, with paint peeling off the walls and boxes and cartons stacked on the floor.  Not a place for hanging out at but definitely worth a visit.  

Coffee Libre
Address: 27-15 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Direction:  Exit 3 at Hongik University subway stop and follow map below.

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Seoul: Wangbijib Korean BBQ In Myeongdong

 photo IMG_2738-150530-v2__zps06qhesli.jpgI often get asked for Korean BBQ restaurant recommendations in Seoul but have none to give because this is something that I don’t normally eat when I am in Seoul. If I have grilled meat cravings, I would usually go to a gopchang restaurant.  I prefer grilled fatty innards over pork belly!

During my last trip, my friend wanted to eat grilled meat so I looked up the Internet for some good places around Myeongdong where we were staying. There are plenty of BBQ restaurants in Myeongdong so if one isn’t fussy, you could just turn a corner and walk into one.  

After some research online, I decided to try Wangbijib (왕비집).  Located near the Myeongdong subway station (take Exit #9 of Myeongdong Station, Subway Line 4. Walk straight ahead for about 50m from Exit #9 and turn right at the first corner. Continue straight for another 50m and turn left. Wangbijib  is located on the second floor on the left side of the street), it had mostly good reviews.  We arrived at around 7pm and saw that a queue had formed on the stairway.  Egads!  We hear Singaporean voices too!  So we decided to walk around Myeongdong and look for another grilled meat place. We ended up at another Wangbijib located closer to Metro Hotel (just two streets away from Myeongdong Skypark Hotel II and A Twosome Place) but unfortunately, there was also a long queue at this outlet.  

Okaaaay, this place must be pretty good then.  We decided to return the following evening, at 6pm, hopefully enough to beat the queues!  Which we did, and at 6pm, the restaurant was almost full!  I am not a big fan of grilled meat but I enjoyed my meal at Wangbijib very much.  I can no longer remember what cuts of meat we ordered – a beef and a fatty pork-something.  I felt that what made the food stand out was the use of charcoal to grill the meat. Charcoal gave the meat a deeper and fuller flavor. Oh look at the charred bits in the photo. I should have taken more photos of the food, but was too busy stuffing my mouth to do so.

Just like that, Wangbijib is going to be a regular feature in my dining itinerary in Seoul.

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Seoul: Ricotta Cheese Salad At Cafe Mamas

On my way to Samcheong-dong to hunt for clothes (work dresses, casual tops, kimono cardigans, shoes, costume jewelry) one morning, I walked past Cafe Mamas, a popular cafe near the Cheongyecheon stream.

I have gone past this cafe many times during my trips to Seoul, but have never been in there. It is usually very crowded in the evenings with long queues forming during the weekends. In a city with so many cafes and bistros, I have always wondered what is the attraction of this place, to attract queues on a weekend when there are so many attractive options in the vicinity.

 photo IMG_2701-150530-v2__zps5qglqhmv.jpgAs there was no queue forming outside Cafe Mamas that morning, I decided to drop in for a cup of coffee.  I was quite full from eating a huge bowl of porridge at Bonjuk so I didn’t think about ordering food.  

I looked around and saw that almost every table ordered the ricotta cheese salad, and this made me very curious about the dish.  What is so special about a slab of ricotta cheese with salad leaves and bread?  To get the answer, I had to order one for myself even though I could not eat another bite of food.  Or so I thought.

 photo IMG_2700-150530-v2__zps0m8k4nlw.jpgIt was incredibly good!  The ricotta cheese was creamy, slightly sweet and flavored with lemon juice.  The chopped nuts and raisins gave it crunchy bite.  The bread was soft and delicious, and was a lovely accompaniment for the ricotta cheese. Overall, this was a simple, tasty and appetizing dish.  I mopped up everything in the bowl, including bread, tomatoes and salad leaves!  I don’t know where I found the space in my stomach to put in that extra food, but I did.  

I came home and attempted to make the lemon-flavoured ricotta cheese.  I managed to get the same flavor, but I could not get the same thick and creamy texture as Cafe Mamas.  The texture of my ricotta cheese was a little too thin and runny – not sure why but heck, it worked fine as a sandwich spread.

I looked up Cafe Mamas on the Internet and realize that they have 4-5 locations in Seoul.  I went to the one near the Cheongyecheon stream and the SK Telecom Building (exit 4 on the Euljiro-1ga subway station).  Even though I don’t usually eat Western fare whenever I am in Seoul, the ricotta cheese salad will be an exception.  I just hope it doesn’t get retired from the menu when I next visit Cafe Mamas.

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Seoul: Needle Story – A Knitting Cafe In Edae

Sadly, I have been neglecting my blog of late.  After taking a short break in Seoul at the end of May, I just cannot seem to ‘restart my engine’ where many things are concerned.  I haven’t even been chasing Korean dramas!  

While in Seoul, I visited a cute cafe in Edae.  It is not really a cafe, but a shop that sells yarn, wool and all sorts of knitting and crocheting things. My kind of place1  I love the concept and this would really be the type of hobby-cafe that I dream about setting up.  A place where like-minded needlework-mad people can hang out and make beautiful things together.  
For some reason, crocheting, knitting and sewing do not seem to be very popular hobbies in Singapore amongst the younger generation.  Scrapbooking, yes.  I know quite a number of people who are scrapbooking-fanatics but I don’t know anyone who likes crocheting and/or knitting (besides my aunt).  

 photo IMG_2579-150528-v2__zpsgext1bvb.jpg photo IMG_2576-150528-v2__zpsvztwpgs9.jpgPhildar yarn!  I was so excited to see the French brand at Needle Story.  I have never seen the brand in Singapore, and I have been toying with the idea of buying some online. I love Phildar’s wide selection of colors, which are popping bright and cheery. I wanted to grab every color that was available in the shop. Needless to say, I spent a huge amount of time deciding on the colors to bring home.

 photo IMG_2575-150528-v2__zpsdfh0utxy.jpg photo IMG_2574-150528-v2__zpsut7wvxf7.jpg photo IMG_2573-150528-v2__zps4eyas4yr.jpgI love the cushions, especially the cream lace one and the vermillion one with little puffs.  So I bought a pile of Phildar yarn from Needle Story to make a cushion, which I have just completed.

 photo IMG_2572-150528-v2__zpssosu7mt7.jpgI have tried my hand at amigurami and I suck at it.  Maybe I should try crocheting a top one of these days.  Looking at the beautiful knitwear on these models is giving me ideas.  I could try making something quite simple, something along the lines of one of these kimono tops.

 photo IMG_2577-150528-v2__zpsq8emtvkm.jpgThe cafe.  Nothing to shout about, but I like that it is quiet and a great place to relax and browse the crocheting pattern books that I bought from Needle Story.  

 photo IMG_2570-150528-v2__zpsdvf7td9b.jpg photo IMG_2569-150528-v2__zpsjipwy2ej.jpgNeedle Story is a place that I must stop by on all future trips to Seoul, to stock up on Phildar yarn.  It is very easy to find, just a short walk from the Ehwa Womens University subway stop on the green line.

Directions
Alight at Ehwa Womens University subway station and leave the subway station via Exit#6. Once you exit, walk straight down the street until you see the cafe on your left.  You cannot miss it.

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Seoul: On The Streets Of Garosugil

Long time away from the blog again.  I have just been feeling out of sorts the last couple of months, and spending a couple of days away in my favorite city did not seem to chase away the blues.  I think I bought Grumpiness along with me on holiday.

Despite the bout of moodiness that did not seem to go away, I managed to avoid hiding in the hotel room all day, drinking bottles of makgeolli and banana milk.  ‘Cos that was what I was tempted to do.  I met up with two friends in Seoul and took some head-shots for my charity project.

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We went to Garosugil for dinner and wandered along the streets trying to find a bright spot to take some photos.  We looked quite silly posing under street lamps and outside the shops along the streets.  This black and white one turned out really well.  

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I like this post-processed photo too.  I didn’t like the harsh colors in the original photograph and decided to soften the colors with a Lightroom filter.  I wished I had designed this blog to have a bigger space for larger photos.  

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