Jangsu Galmaegi in Mapo-gu, Seoul: Korean Charcoal BBQ

No trip to Korea will be complete until one has Korean BBQ. Despite the availability in Singapore, KBBQ in its Homeland is still an essential experience. Jangsu Galmaegi Grill House was highly recommended by our hotel. Quite honestly, I did not think the food was out-of-this-world BUT this charcoal barbecue house ensured the pork was super fresh! My nasty pork trotter experience in Gwangjang Market earlier in the day was quickly dissipated. While the food was not as memorable, the experience sure was!

I thoroughly enjoyed Jangsu Galmaegi for a different reason. The Korean BBQ experience was strikingly different from Singapore. From the egg-ringed BBQ (which I found out after returning is available in Singapore O_o), to the copious amount of meat and Korean alcohol, and the wild time with the Ajummas serving us; my KBBQ experience was unforgettable. Despite the language barrier, the Ajummas were patient, maternal and efficient. Quite frankly I do not recall the exact cut of meat we had. The short menu was in Korean and the Ajummas just pointed to each of the four items and held up two fingers signifying two portions. We replied her with an “O.K.” sign.

The hotel receiptionist kindly reserved with the restaurant my large group of 20 diners for us. Upon arrival on the second floor, we were greeted with this super neat table settings.


From the above picture, one can see a kettle. Naturally we assumed it was water and my older colleague promptly took out his medicine. However when I poured into the glass…

It was beaten eggs! They would be used for the omelette ring around the plate for the meat.

At the same time, Kimchi was added into the beaten eggs to be cooked together. This ensured a flavourful omelette.

We did not have to lift a finger when it came to cooking the meat. The Ajumas were unintrusively standing around ensuring all meat were cooked to perfection. The BEST part was the hot plates were changed frequently. Even before it turned black from the meat, she would swiftly use a metal thong and replaced with a brand new plate. I was in awe of their efficiency! All our pieces of meat felt so clean.

Very soon we were wrapping pork chunks in red-leaf lettuce leaves — along with spicy bean paste, shaved scallions and kkaennip, an anise-flavored leaf, similar to Japanese shiso, and Jalepeno. My favourite green was the kkaennip. With a slight peppery taste, it was a refreshing leaf paired with the heavy meat. The Jalepeno was so spicy! And like a true Korean, we stuffed the whole thing into our mouths. No tiny bites for us.

Another memory of this place was the smoke! It wafted up from our small, round metal barbecue tables, turning the air so opaque and oily. The first thing we did upon leaving was douse ourselves with perfume. The second thing we did? Grab a cab for street food in Myeong-doing despite being over-stuffed.

Dinner at Jangsu Galmaegi was a memorable experience but not satisfying. Upon returning to Singapore, I found myself googling good KBBQ places in Seoul… Oh man… looks like another trip needs to be planned…

Cheese Dung Galbi (Pork Ribs), Hongdae, Seoul: Because Not in SG, Yet

This blog strives to post food that is out-of-this-world, spectacular and worth remembering forever. Afterall you can never delete anyting on the internet. So blogging about amazing food lets me look back anytime and smile at those delicious days. However in this post, I am so embarrassed to write that this dish is not out of this world, not exactly spectacular (it didn’t even come close), and quite frankly, I have no desire to remember the taste forever. But I hunted down this dish because out of the many many Korean exports, it has not arrived on our sunny Singapore shores. Yet. These days, one has to find unusual ways of being a pioneer…

Cheese Dung Galbi (Grilled Baby Back Ribs with Cheese), 치즈등갈비, is just one of the many takes on American comfort food by the Koreans. No visitor to Seoul will deny the strong influence America has on the modern Korean “cuisine”. Just look at the chips/ crisps and ice-cream in the 7/11, and street food such as fried potatoes and sausages everywhere. 

In this particular dish, the Koreans took a hot plate, topped it with cheap easily-meltable cheese, grilled saucy baby back ribs, and served it all on a portable gas stove. To Korean-fy it further, some good old Korean rice cakes never hurt. Ta-dah! A new dish is born. You have got to applaud their ingenuity.

How does one eat it? Wait for the cheese to melt. Then using the plastic glove provided, hold up a rib and dunk it in to the melted cheese, lift up and twist more cheese around it. That’s it. This dish is to be consumed purely for comfort purposes. They didn’t even bother glamourizing it.

This dish is not hard to find. In Hongdae, it was everywhere! Short of time, we popped into the first place seen to offer this dish. Sat down, pointed to the picture, held up two fingers signifying two portions then pointed to level two spiciness. Shortly thereafter this hot plate arrived.

Having said that, this dish was not bad. The meat around the rib was tender albeit could have been meatier. And that sauce, at level two spiciness, was lip-numbingly spicy. If you love your heat, SHIOK! My friend was perspiring from the heat, I was revelling in the spiciness.

Very soon the cheese will go from liquid to crusty and that’s when the real fun begins. Scrap off the brown bits for some crispy cheese chips – it’s fun!

If you are heading to Seoul soon and desperately need a place to eat, do pop in to one of these cheese-ribs joint for an experience. >_<

Gontran Cherrier Artisan Boulanger, Samseong-dong, Seoul: Sublime Pastries

 

The best meal on my trip to Seoul last weekend was a lunch at Gontran Cherrier’s bakery. Some of us Singaporeans might find his name familiar. That’s because Gontran is the man behind Tiong Bahru Bakery. Unlike Singapore, Japan and Seoul are so fortunate to be the only countries outside Paris to house his namesake bakery.

I have never been particularly excited about TBB in Singapore. Overpriced tarts and sub-par quality pastries. But after reading many food blogs and seeing my friends on Instagram harp on about his namesake bakery in Tokyo, and especially how much better than TBB it was, I knew his bakery in Seoul must be sought out. This turned out to be a wise decision for every pastry we had turned out to be immensely satisfying and of high quality. It was my most unforgettable meal of the trip. And one that I proudly harp on to others whenever asked about my trip.

We got real lucky on many fronts with this bakery on Sunday. My best friend wanted to visit Coex Mall, the biggest underground mall in Asia. Desperate for something different from Myeong-dong and Hongdae, we hightailed to the other side of the river near Gangnam. It was a 13-stop subway ride away for “fresh air”.

Immediately upon exiting the station to COEX, I saw the “Parnas Mall” sign and jumped. Checked my food list and saw this unusual sounding mall contained one of the two Gontran Cherriers in Seoul. We raced to find this bakery! Luckily it was located on the same level as the train station. Parnas Mall happens to be the smallest of the three malls that lies in between retail giant Coex and the Hyundai Department Store. The mall is the underground arcade of the Grand Intercontinental Hotel Seoul. 

Upon entering the bakery, we behaved like kids in a candy store and gushed over every pastry in sight. Despite our big breakfast, we were keen to try as many as possible. To our immense delight, even though some of the shelves were empty, on the other side of the bakery, fresh-out-of-the-oven bakes were being cooled on their baking trays and trolleys. Including their famed croissants. We helped ourselves to those.

In the end, between two of us, we narrowed it down to five choices. Croissant, Croque Monsieur, French Apple Turnover, Savoury tart topped with cheese and vegetables, and a Paris-Brest.

The warm Croissant was outstanding. It was everything we hoped for in the french classic. Delicate, flaky and buttery, our hearts melted on first bite. The Croque Monsieur may have been too cold for our liking but the two pieces of bread were undeniably fluffy with a crusty side. Superb.  

The French Apple Turnover was such a surprise. The delicate flaky pastry did not let down and expectedly superb but it was the chunky pieces of soft apples within that made us smile.

The Paris-Brest was not only a looker; when a guy sat down next to us and saw ours, he went back to the counter to get one for himself too. But the thick luscious rich hazelnut cream stole the show.

It was a wonderful meal at Gontran Cherrier. I am still craving for that croissant. If you love your french pastries as much as me, promise me you will seek out his bakery in Paris, Japan or Seoul. You will not be disappointed. After the jump, check out more pictures of their offerings taken in the bakery.

Gontran Cherrier Artisan Boulanger: 1F Vision Tower, 25, Seoraero, Seocho-gu, Seoul; (02) 599-0225; F-2-A, B1 Parnas Mall, 521 Teheranno, Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul; (02) 3453-0225; gontrancherrier.kr

Directions to Parnas Mall:

[Subway]
Samseong Station (Seoul Subway Line 2) , Exit 5 or 6.

[Bus]
– Get off at Korea Trade Center Samsung Station
Bus routes:
Main road bus 333, N13, N61, 146, 740, 341, 360
Non-main road bus 3411, 4434
Express bus 9414, 1100, 2000-1, 1700, 2000, 7007, 8001
Other bus 41
Town bus Gangnam 07, Gangnam 08

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Miss YYC Is Back From Seoul, Y’all!

Hi everyone!!! This place has been a bit quiet lately because I was in Seoul this past weekend! A short three and half days firm trip in the HUGE city. I know, my firm is extremely generous. Our time there may have been short but man, did we really live it up! I slept on average three to four hours each night. The Koreans are hardcore party-goers with a stamina to rival only the Indonesians. The Koreans definitely, hands down, put us Singaporeans to shame when it comes to consumerism. As it was mostly a free and easy trip, my friends roamed around the sprawling city taking in as much as we could with a vengeance. We arrived back in Singapore fatter, broker and sicker than ever before. I left my voice in the 18-million population city. There were some many memorable eats. I will post them up in the course of the remaining week. But for now, I shall leave you with one advice: DON’T GO TO GWANGJANG MARKET. It is a tourist trap. However, not due to the exorbitant prices (it was surprisingly not), but rather, for the low-quality food abound. 

Hadongkwan, Seoul

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For more than 70 years, Hadongkwan in Myeongdong serves only one dish: gomtang or beef stew. On an early morning walk around the quiet Myeondong, there were only a couple of eateries open and I walked past this place, only locals could be seen slupring up hot broth from a big metal bowl. Lack of tourist was a good sign. I brought my best friend and travel companion, and we each ordered a bowl of mixed beef soup. On the table was kimchi radish and a huge bowl of green onions which I greedily helped myself too. The broth was thin but it felt nourishing. There were some black beef pieces which freaked me out a little but I happily lapped it up. The big slices of beef were tender, rice cooked through but still retained texture. All in all, a very satisfying bowl of hot broth that was perfect for the cold weather.

891-44, Daechi-dong, Gangnam-gu (강남구 대치동 891-44) +82 2 565 0003 Open daily 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m (closed the first and third Sunday of each month) www.hadongkwan.com

Seoul Good Part 2

20131113-182626.jpgOn my second day in Seoul, I awoke early in the morning at 7, and slapped on the beauty product samples. I was glowing; the beauty products left my skin soft, supple and glowing. I was resolved to not leave Seoul without getting the full-sized bottles. I took a walk around Myeondong, and it was like a ghost town. Shops were closed, streets were empty save for the big cleaning trucks. On a positive note, any opened restaurants were more obvious thanks to their striking front banners and lights. I passed by two eateries, a place that served Korean porridge, and another specialising and serving only Beef Broth that were filled with locals. I knew I had to visit both. Before heading back to the hotel, I passed by unique architecture. My friend and I later decided to go for breakfast at Korean porridge place.

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Seoul Good Part 1

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London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, and finally, Seoul. An irresistable deal on Zuji.com.sg had me frantically calling my best friend persuading her to come with me in one and a half months. Luckily she agreed and the next thing I knew, I was hoping onto a flight bound for Seoul with a stopover in Shanghai (more on that later). Seoul brought out my insatiable appetite for shopping. I never cared very much for facial products before but after the trip, it was all and still I could think about. How to whiten and brighten my face, which face mask to use at night and in the morning, and which BB/ CC cream to use etc. It was maniacal. For four days in Seoul, all I wanted to do was shop. Even eating was not a priority. Lounging in a cafe? A waste of time. With malls in Dongdaemun opened till 5am, sleep also had to take a backseat.Read More »