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Autumn in Seoul 2019: 8 Food Experiences I Loved!

My previous post has put me in the mood to reminisce about the food we got to eat in Seoul during our visit last 2019. In some ways, I feel that it’s a bit lacking compared to the Busan food experience we had, considering we were here in Seoul for a longer period of time. However nothing we ate fell short of expectations, so in that I find comfort.

Planning where to eat in Seoul is a daunting task, mostly because there are too many options. To tell you the truth, we didn’t exactly do much planning in this department, because many of our days were spent on day-trips outside of Seoul. Being more familiar with Seoul also gave us a sense of complacency compared to when we were in Busan. It didn’t seem like we needed to plan our meals down to the letter.

Many of our meals ended up being impromptu picks. We would read reviews on the spot and then decide if we would go in or not. Usually I like to have a shortlist of places I want to have meals in whenever I travel. I thought we would have time for one Royal Cuisine meal during this trip, but I guess I’ll have to reserve the experience for next time. In any case, there’s no use dwelling on the what-if’s at this point. Let’s talk about the actual things we ended up eating!

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1. Sandwiches at Egg Drop

Address: 28 Bukchon-ro 5ga-gil, Dohwa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Drop by when you visit: Bukchon Hanok Village

We came across the famous Egg Drop Sandwich & Coffee Shop as we wandered around Bukchon Hanok Village. If you’re wondering whether it’s an Isaac Toast competitor, it seems fair to say that it is. They both serve sandwiches with eggs in them, but I think Egg Drop goes for a more Westernized and savory approach. Prices ranged from 3,000 to 4,500 won at the time of our visit, and for the size and the quality of these sandwiches, that’s quite fair!

You order and pay via a vending machine. Depending on the the amount of orders queued up before yours, you could end up waiting for some time. During the time we were here, this branch had received a big online order and were scrambling to complete it with limited manpower. We had to wait longer than expected.

Egg Drop’s sandwiches all have some form of egg in them. They all come in fluffy toasted brioche buns partially sliced down the middle, and what makes each sandwich truly different is the meat component. You can choose among American Ham, cheese, bacon, avocado, teriyaki BBQ beef, among others. We tried American Ham & Cheese (3,600 won), Teriyaki BBQ (4,400 won), and Avo-Holic (4,600 won).

These sandwiches are a little difficult to eat if you have a small mouth. It can be VERY messy too because of all the sauces! It’s also nearly impossible to share without utensils lol. So just pick your sandwich and enjoy it for yourself. Don’t think about sharing for once!

Egg Drop have enjoyed a significant popularity boost thanks to ‘Hospital Playlist’. If you’ve seen the series, this is one of little Woo-jo’s favorite places to grab a sandwich with his dad Ik-Jun. It’s believable because this is totally kid-friendly fare– anything that features egg and cheese often are! Personally I enjoyed their sandwiches. Admittedly this isn’t particularly difficult to replicate at home, but I am happy to have tried it. (The Barista latte at the back is my favorite convenience store coffee btw.)

2. Pancakes & dumplings at Gwangjang Market

Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno 4(sa)-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

I talked about Gwangjang Market in a lengthier manner in this post so I’m going to keep it short. This market is a traditional market with a very popular food street, and it’s only gotten more popular after being featured on the Netflix program ‘Street Food: Asia’.

If you decide to navigate the crowds of co-tourists and locals alike, you will be rewarded. Even if others may consider this market a “tourist trap”, it has no shortage of good food. I did not think the food here was particularly expensive, or at least it was not expensive enough to warrant a “tourist trap” label. Although it’s true there are cheaper places outside of Gwangjang Market, the sellers here will not disappoint when it comes to quality and variety.

We enjoyed some bindaetteok or mung bean pancakes here in Gwangjang Market. We also ate some great handmade mandu from a very busy stall. Both of these stalls were incidentally featured on the Netflix program, and both delivered!

3. Sujebi & kalguksu at Hongdukkgae Hand Noodles 홍두깨 손칼국수

Address: 7 Mangwon-ro 8-gil, Mangwon 1(il)-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Drop by when you visit: Mangwon Market

You’ve probably noticed by now that we ate a lot of noodles during this trip. I actually don’t know if my cousins love noodles as much as I do and we all just subconsciously gravitated towards this food group. I am the last person who will complain about this though. I can eat Asian noodles everyday. In Mangwon Market we also stopped by a small restaurant that specializes on hand-pulled and knife-cut noodles. You even get to enjoy a little cooking demo as you wait to be seated outside.

That Hongdukkgae have several branches in Seoul probably speaks to their popularity. The food here is good in a classic way, and is super cheap for the serving you get! The sujebi was just 4,000 won while the kalguksu was 3,500 won. The difference between the two is the shape of the noodles. While the dough is the same, kalguksu is more of your traditional string noodles, knife-cut and then stretched out to thin strands.

Sujebi meanwhile is hand-torn noodles. They are smaller portions of dough pulled out from a bigger mass until fairly thin, and then roughly torn and thrown straight into the boiling broth! That’s why they come out looking like this:

These types of noodles are pretty no-frills, so the quality of the noodles and the flavor of the broth are immediately highlighted. Actually it’s probably more accurate to say they highlight the skill of the chef making the hand-pulled noodles. You can immediately tell if the noodles are too tough or too soft, or if the broth is too salty or bland.

For me, these noodles were great. The anchovy-kelp broth had a really nice umami taste, and the noodles were chewy but soft at the same time. It’s incredibly filling as well. The bowls may look small in the photo but believe me, the noodles aren’t just floating on top. You will literally be eating down to the bottom of the bowl. The kimchi on the side provides a good break from the monotony of the noodle soup. If you’re a noodle lover looking for something just basic and clean-tasting, grab a bowl of kalguksu or sujebi!

4. Jjajangmyeon at 꽁시면관 본점

Address: 45 Myeongdong 2-gil, Chungmuro 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Drop by when you visit: Myeongdong

We were talking amongst ourselves about eating jjajangmyeon, and it just so happened we chanced upon this Chinese-Korean restaurant whilst wandering around Myeongdong. The restaurant is called Kkongsimyeonguan Bonjeom 꽁시면관 본점, and it’s an oddly fancy place tucked away in one of the inner areas of Myeongdong.

We excitedly ordered two kinds of jjajangmyeon— one spicy and one not– and if I’m not mistaken, both were around the 7,000 won ballpark. We also ordered jjajangbap, which is essentially jjajang sauce with rice rather than noodles. Before I talk about the food, I will tell you right off the bat that this was one of my favorite meals here in Seoul for this trip.

If you’re wondering what jjajang is and why the heck it’s black, it’s actually black bean sauce. The flavor of black bean sauce is hard to explain. It’s earthy and kind of pungent, with some bitterness at the back of the tongue. A good recipe will transform it into an addictive dish, which is the case here. I enjoyed this restaurant’s spicy jjajangmyeon a lot! I was sorely tempted to slurp like they do in K-dramas, but I didn’t want to make a mess so I stopped myself lol.

Mixing jjajangmyeon is quite the satisfying exercise for me, and I find that you won’t get the same sort of experience with jjajangbap. You won’t hear the squishing sounds of sauce and noodles mixing together! Still, I appreciate that the jjajangbap here is actually served with fried rice and some jjampong soup broth on the side. That soup was spicy and delicious and made me want to come back and order jjampong. (This is another Korean noodle dish I really love, but let’s save that for another day lol.)

5. Kalguksu and dumplings at Myeongdong Kyoja

Address: 29 Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Drop by when you visit: Myeongdong

Myeongdong Kyoja is basically an institution as far as eateries in Myeongdong go. They’ve been in business for over 40 years! So many shops in Myeongdong closed their doors in the last two years due to COVID, but Myeongdong Kyoja remains standing on this very spot. Like entry #3 on this list, they specialize in kalguksu or knife-cut noodles, served in a tasty broth with meat and veggies, as well as dumplings.

On their menu, you will also find mandu (dumplings), bibimguksu (cold spicy noodles), and kongguksu (noodles in cold soybean soup mostly available in the summer). As far as I know, they only have these four items on the menu so picking isn’t all that difficult. We ordered everything that was available lol.

Myeongdong Kyoja has been a pick for the Seoul Bib Gourmand list for several years running. This is a list that feature affordable, quality eateries within particular cities, and I think they do deserve to be on this list. This family-owned business promises to serve you good, comforting kalguksu, and they deliver.

Myeongdong Kyoja’s dishes are as straightforward as it gets. All of them are yummy, hearty, and satisfying. The price is also pretty good, considering they come in big servings good enough to share. If the Michelin accolades make you expect some sort of gourmet menu here, I think you will be sorely disappointed. I don’t think that’s the point of their accolade anyway. This shop serves up traditional Korean noodles unapologetically, so temper your expectations.

One of my favorite things we ate here were the dumplings (10,000 won). The skin was so delicate it was almost translucent, and they break easily on the bite, revealing juicy minced pork and leeks inside. The sesame oil flavor that is prominent in the filling goes well with the chili-soy dipping sauce.

We also enjoyed the kalguksu (8,000 won) with all the toppings, as well as the bibimguksu (9,000 won). I’m a fan of spicy cold noodles and I thought this was pretty good. The sauce is the traditional spicy, sweet, and sour trifecta, but the noodles they used were new to me. Apparently it’s house-made chlorella (algae) wheat noodles, cooked until elastic and chewy. As expected, the bibimguksu was my favorite!

For me, Myeongdong Kyoja is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area but I wouldn’t stand hours in line just to eat here as some people seem to do. I would advise timing a visit during non-rush hours to avoid long waits. Also, note that the restaurant makes you pay as you order. I highly recommend the mandu and the bibimguksu!

6. Stone-grilled Korean BBQ at Hongdae Piggy Bank Stone BBQ 돼지저금통

Address: 146-1 Eoulmadang-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Drop by when you visit: Hongdae

There isn’t much one can say about Korean BBQ that the world doesn’t already know, except have you ever tried stone-grilled K-BBQ before? No? Me neither. This was my first time! Hongdae Piggy Bank Stone BBQ is located about 10 minutes away from Hongdae Station. You’ll know it’s the right restaurant when you spot the red piggy banks lining the walls as you walk by.

We were actually quite lucky when we came here because we didn’t have to wait long to get seated. According to other blogs, this place can get quite busy. It’s not a big place so it fills up quickly, but once you’re seated, the servers arrive to get your orders fairly promptly. The grill gets started promptly as well. The charcoal is set underneath all those stones, and it doesn’t take long before it’s ready for grilling.

There’s a minimum order in this restaurant, and if I remember correctly you should order at least two 200-gram portions of meat. 200-grams is not a lot of meat for a party of five so we had to order a bunch more. I think it was a combination of Salted Grilled Pork Meat (소금구이) and samgyeopsal. You do get the usual condiments and veggies that come with a Korean BBQ meal, with a bonus of mushrooms and doenjang as part of the set. This ended up being our most expensive meal in Seoul, although it’s quite a novel experience so I can’t complain!

Your assigned server will help you grill your meat initially and then tell you how you should continue on your own. Although the servers are very busy, they make sure to check on your grilling progress every once in a while, helping you move your meat to the side if its in danger of getting overcooked after being left in the center part of the grill for too long. To be honest, I didn’t sense a particularly special flavor on the stone-grilled meat. (I actually kind of missed the smoky flavor that comes from a traditional grill.) I did really like the way the meat sizzled when set on the stones for the first time though! Overall, still memorable!

7. Bingsu at Sulbing (설빙) Korean Dessert Cafe

Address: 15 Hongik-ro 6-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Drop by when you visit: Hongdae

You know what they say: The weather is never too cold for bingsu!

Okay I made that up, but somehow it makes sense to me. I really enjoy a good bingsu and I find that the best place to get some is at Sulbing. They’re largely credited for the Korean dessert trend, and although other dessert cafes may try to copy their bingsu, for me they still make the best ones. Skip all those other bingsu places and head to the OG, I say.

The bingsu here at Sulbing come in a lot of different flavors, each possessing very different looks as well once served. You don’t really have to worry about picking the wrong thing because they will have the same base; only the toppings and add-on’s are different. The base of a bingsu is  made of superfine shaved milky ice that is somehow both fluffy and melt-in-the-mouth. It’s just sweet enough but mostly milky in flavor, and when eaten with the toppings it is glorious.

Usually, when I’m eating with a group of people, I like to suggest ordering two distinct kinds of bingsu— one with chocolate and one with fruit. This gives your tastebuds two very different things to enjoy! I highly recommend the bingsu from Sulbing that have cheesecake on them. The savory profile of the cream cheese goes so well with the milky shaved ice! If you would like your dessert a bit sweeter, you can pour in the extra sweetened milk syrup they give on the side.

The Blueberry Cheesecake Bingsu is a personal favorite of mine, but sometimes I also enjoy a simple Injeolmi Bingsu!

8. Flavored almonds by Tom’s Farm

Address: There used to be a big store in Myeongdong but last I checked it’s NOW CLOSED 🙁

I decided to include this one on the list simply because I am kind of obsessed with these almonds. I never leave Korea without at least five packs of these in my luggage looool. Recently they’ve been churning out so many creative flavors, and they’ve become popular enough to set up their own physical store! Before, these almonds were distributed to other stores all over the city, and usually the flavors were incomplete. The prices also vary like crazy! Which is why I was relieved when I found out they had set up their own store in 2019. In their own store, you could find their complete lineup of flavors, in different sizes and sets, with bulk discounts to boot. The best part? You could TASTE the almonds before making the decision to buy!

Sadly, the Myeongdong store seems to have closed down because of low tourist traffic caused by COVID. I do know that this brand still manages to sell a lot since we have these in our local grocery stores in Manila now, so I feel confident that they’ll set up a store again once things somehow return to normal. In any case, my personal favorites from the HBAF lineup include the original Honey Butter Almonds, Honey Butter Mixed Nuts,  and Laver Almonds; as well as the newer Cheongyang Mayo Almonds, plus the Black Sesame Almonds (!!!). Surprisingly, I really like the Starlight Pangpang Almonds too. The other flavors either taste too sweet or too concentrated to my liking.

I can’t imagine how much Seoul’s food scene has changed in the past couple of years, but hopefully it will be safe to dine out (and travel) to all our hearts’ content again soon. #manifest

To see what else we were up to in Seoul in October 2019, check out this video:

Other posts in the SEOUL AUTUMN 2019 SERIES:


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