Seoul Food

Seoul is by far one of our favorite cities in Korea. A major part of this love is the food that is available. Our island is fairly westernized and we are able to both buy and eat a lot of the food that we crave from back home. But this is still nothing compared to the vast assortment of foreign foods available in Seoul. We went to visit last weekend and therefore spent about 48 hours gorging ourselves on all of the delicious availability.

Breakfast restaurants are far and few between in Korea, especially restaurants that don’t overcharge and you can leave feeling full. Oh how we miss Denny’s. We did however find a new breakfast spot that wasn’t outrageous (although still much more expensive than prices we are accustomed to back home) and had large portions. Suji’s is located in the neighborhood of Itaewon and offers a wide selection of delicious breakfast foods at a reasonable price. The french toast we had was 12,000w and the eggs were 15,000w.
We opted for the french toast which came out with massive Texas toast slices topped with bananas and walnuts. There was also the free of charge option of other toppings such as blueberries.

We also got my favorite, eggs benedict. Neither choices disappointed and both the hubs and I left feeling very full. A feeling that the hubs does not often encounter here in Korea.

We look so happy because we finally get breakfast food.

One of our favorite eating experiences of the weekend was at the Copacabana Grill which is an amazing little locally owned Brazilian Steak House (similar to Fogo de Chao). The owners are a sweet couple, she is from Brazil and he is from Korea. On the weekend, the all you can eat buffet was 30,000w per person but we were told it is cheaper at lunch during the week.
They have a fantastic buffet complete with rice, salad and various authentic Brazilian dishes.
The waiters came around to each table offering different options for meat and would slice it off for you at the table. Each type was only cooked with salt and I can honestly say each one was delicious. I know because I tasted every.single.one. Oh and we never got a picture of it because it disappeared too quickly but for dessert they brought around pineapple cooked and sprinkled with cinnamon. I would have never thought to combine the two but it was absolute heaven!
How full we felt afterwards…so.worth.it.
One of the most amazing streets in all of Seoul. This little street is lined from beginning to end with different restaurants from every nationality. You won’t be disappointed. This street is located just behind the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon.

Our last morning was spent at the Flying Pan, also in Itaewon. This place has very unique dishes but it is more expensive with smaller portions compared to Suji’s. (The french toast was 15,000w compared to Suji’s price of 12,000w). They used to have a great early bird special where they offered a dish along with coffee for 10,000w but they have recently stopped offering this. We split the french toast which may have just been the best french toast I have had. It was made out of a type of flaky pastry bread and was topped with strawberries and ricotta cheese. YUM.

We’re already planning our next trip back.

Chuseok Holiday

This past weekend was Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving. Koreans travel from all over the country to meet with family, usually at the grandparents home. For us, it means we get a long four day weekend. We heard that most people in Seoul leave the city to go to family’s homes so the city is far less crowded than usual. Also, there there are big names such as Van Gogh and Monet on exhibit at the Seoul Art Center this month. We decided to head out early (and by early I mean 5:40 am) Saturday morning to beat any holiday traffic there might be. Thank goodness I have the gift of being able to sleep anywhere and got a nice long nap in on the bus.

Our first stop was the art museum. It was so amazing to see paintings that I have admired for so long in person. Pictures truly do no justice to these pieces of artwork. 

seoul museum of art

They have really tall ice cream cones in seoul (and Jeremy took the time to show me the “correct” way to point)

A short side note. Starting the Wednesday before we left I started not feeling well. This was the first time that I have been sick since we have arrived in Korea (pretty impressive I think). I took some aspirin before I went to sleep one night but I made one mistake. I took it on an empty stomach. If you’ve never done this before, I highly suggest against it. It feels like a mix between someone punching you in the stomach and feeling like you’re going to vomit. Not the best scenario when you have to be upbeat and energetic teaching kids all day. Thankfully I only had to go one day of teaching before the weekend. I felt a little better before we headed out on Saturday so we decided to still go. As the day wore on, I felt worse. After talking with my mom and finding out that something as simple as an antacid would help me feel better we headed to the pharmacy. No medicine is sold in convenient stores or grocery stores here. You have to go to the pharmacy. We got a very small amount to last us on Saturday and didn’t think anything else about it. The next day, Sunday, we went to the pharmacy to get some more medicine. Little did we know that all pharmacies in Seoul are closed on Sundays. Apparently Koreans have some secret to not getting sick on Sundays. Wish I knew it. All turned out well though. After a few hours we came across a popular indoor mall with an open pharmacy. The pharmacist inside probably wondered why we were so excited about getting an antacid.

Bongeunsa Temple, seoul

We traveled south of the Han River which divides to city to the Bongeunsa Temple. It is over 1200 years old and the country’s leading training centre for Buddhist monks specializing in zen meditation.

Twice a day monks perform a percussion ceremony on four instruments, each designed to awaken and save beings on the ground(drum), underwater(wooden fish), in the sky(cloud drum) and under the ground(gong). We were fortunate enough to arrive at the temple just in time to see the night ceremony. Once entering the temple, you could feel the silence begin to surround you. You didn’t dare make a sound for fear of breaking the humbling silence. Even though we were alone walking the grounds, we still talked in hushed whispers.

Bongeunsa Temple, seoul
Bongeunsa Temple, seoul

This was in the pavilion of the dharma king. it houses 3,300 miniature statues of gwanseum bosal which glorify the essence of the buddhist spirit. 

Bongeunsa Temple, seoul
We were also able to witness a buddhist ceremony for the chuseok holiday. it was held in the heart of the temple. sakyamuni buddha is in the center with amitabha buddha and the medicine buddha on either side. 
Bongeunsa Temple, seoul
Bongeunsa Temple, seoul
Bongeunsa Temple, seoul
Bongeunsa Temple, seoul

There are two main theme parks in Korea, one, Everland, being significantly larger than the other, Lotteworld. We figured that if there is only one substantial park in the country you’re in, you have to check it out at least once. During the Chuseok holiday there is a big discount for foreigners since all Koreans are typically with their families that morning. Another plus about going during Chuseok…no lines. we were told the average wait for T-Express is a few hours long, we waiting 30 minutes.

everland theme park, seoul
everland theme park, seoul
everland theme park, seoul
everland theme park, seoul

The main square and view of t-express roller coaster, the steepest wooden roller coaster in the world at 77 degrees.

everland theme park, seoul
Posing with the theme parks featured characters all dressed up in hanboks (Korea’s traditional wear).
everland theme park, seoul
everland theme park, seoul

After leaving Everland we caught the first bus back to Geoje. As nice as it is to explore the island that we live on, sometimes it’s nice to be able to have a little city getaway.

Our Last Day in Seoul

Our last day in seoul! We were exhausted but ready to check out more of the second largest city in the world. We have been to some pretty big cities, but none even compared to the feeling that you have while in Seoul. 

Our first stop for the day was Gyeongbokgung Palace which is located in the heart of the city. 

Quick history lesson: the palace was first built in 1934 by the Jeseon Dynasty but was burnt down and rebuilt a number of times throughout history. After being reconstructed in 1867, the palace is said to have had 330 buildings and 5,792 rooms. However, from 1911, the Japanese government destroyed all but 10 of the buildings, including the surrounding wall. In 1989 the Korean government decided to embark on a 40 year project to restore the buildings left. As of 2009, 40% of the original palace has been restored.
Gyeongbokgung Palace, seoulGyeongbokgung Palace, seoul
Gyeongbokgung Palace, seoul
Gyeongbokgung Palace, seoul
Gyeongbokgung Palace, seoul
Gyeongbokgung Palace, seoul

We had planned this trip to Seoul weeks before for the main purpose of going to see a Hillsong Concert. They are a band that we have been fans of for years since our church back home uses a lot of their songs. They are located in Australia so we were excited to hear that they were on tour and one of the stops was going to be Seoul. It was held in one of the old Olympic pavilions that was used for bike racing during the 1988 Olympics. While Korea has a large christian base, we sometimes feel alone in this regard in the city that we live. That is why going to this concert with 10,000 other believers in Korea was so amazing and uplifting.