The next day, we met up with K’s friend who studied in Vancouver but went back to her homeland in Seoul after graduation. It was great to have a local take us around Bukchon Hanok Village, which surprisingly was just right near our home! The Hanok Village is in the Samcheong-dong neighborhood. She took us to Hangaram, which is a cute little restaurant that serves set menus. You can also order a la carte if you wish. There are rooms where you must remove your shoes and sit on mats. It makes you feel like you’re in a traditional Korean house.
First, we ordered the famous Makgeolli, which is a traditional Korean alcoholic beverage. This is made from rice or wheat mixed with a Korean fermentation starter called nuruk. Our makegeolli came in a tea pot and when poured out, it has a milky creamy white colour. It doesn’t look like your typical alcohol! I absolutely loved this! It’s a little sweet, but doesn’t have a strong alcohol taste to it. I found it much like a dessert drink! It’s actually around 6-8% in alcohol content, but doesn’t taste like it. Before drinking, you should also swirl your cup first since the cloudy substance tends to settle at the bottom. A definite must try in Korea!
Salmon Sashimi Salad
We ordered the set menu, so everything came with the portions made for the 5 of us. Some dishes, like this one came in 2, so you actually get quite full from the set menu! The Salmon Sashimi Salad was very refreshing. Thinly sliced salmon that reminded me of smoked salmon were topped with a mix of greens and sprouts and topped with a fruity dressing.
Japchae and Fried Shrimp Cakes
Next up, this dish also came in 2 plates. On the left is Japchae, which was flavourful and strong in sesame flavour. On the right were Fried Shrimp Cakes, which were a little spicy and lightly battered. Yummy!
Pork Belly Wraps
Then, we had the Pork Belly Wraps. These were so good!!! Thinly sliced pork belly with just the right amount of fat. It came with white kimchi, and this was the first time I’ve heard of this! The white kimchi is not spicy, but still has the sour and pickled taste. You place the slice of yellow radish in it, and along with the pork belly which is dressed in a sesame and sweet soy sauce, this is the perfect match! A bit of crunch, and tons of flavour!
Then came the Grilled Fish, which came in a sizzling plate. It was topped with onions, bean sprouts, and more greens. I’m not usually a fan of cooked fish (for some strange reason), but this was quite delicious! The sauce reminded me of unagi sauce, and the fish was extremely soft. I think the sauce really made the dish delicious!
Grilled Duck Salad
The last dish was the Grilled Duck Salad, which was also a favourite at our table. Topped with greens again, the grilled duck were extremely tender! A light soya based sauce was all it needed. A must order!
Bulgogi Hot Pot
Then came the two hot pots. I didn’t know we would be having so much food! First, was the Bulgogi Hot Pot. This was our favourite out of the two hot pots. It came with japchae noodles (sweet potato noodles), bulgogi beef, enoki mushrooms, and lots of green onions and onions! What made the hot pot delicious was the broth. It wasn’t the typical bulgogi broths, but rather it tasted really healthy! I felt like there were some medicinal herbs in there which gave it a very healthy flavour to it!
Spicy Seafood Hot Pot
The second hot pot was the Spicy Seafood Hot Pot, which we all agreed was only average. The broth wasn’t too spicy, but there was a very strong taste of seafood (which I guess is a good thing). It came with clams, little shrimps, tiny crabs, some noodles and enoki mushrooms. This was probably my least favourite dish for the lunch.
They also provide you with lots of appetizers – some that aren’t as familiar to me. It came with some kimchi, radish, chives, and quail eggs! We especially loved the quail eggs. It was a good touch since we don’t usually see them being served as complementary dishes.
Sweet Pumpkin Soup
Lastly, we were served dessert, which was the famous Sweet Pumpkin Soup. Koreans love to use pumpkin as an ingredient in their food. The soup is more like a tea and is slightly sweet with a strong pumpkin flavour. Perfect for pumpkin lovers!
Overall, we were extremely satisfied with our lunch at Hangaram. It may be a little pricey at just under 30,000 won per person, but you will be guaranteed to be full! It’s a great experience to try so many dishes with good portion sizes as well! To be honest, we finished most of the food, other than the rice and a bit of the hot pot.
After lunch, we wandered around the Bukchon Hanok Village, which is located near many of the famous palaces, like Gyeongbok Palace. You take a walk up a steep street, and you will find yourself in a street full of traditional houses or hanoks. I believe that this village used to be where the top government officials used to live during the Joseon Dynasty.
The architecture here is absolutely beautiful! Feels like you went back in time in Korea!
The roads here are all very narrow and steep. If you go to the very top, you can get some views of the city (although Seoul is always quite gloomy and foggy)! On this trip, we really didn’t do a lot of sightseeing in Seoul, because we aren’t interested in palaces and such, but if there is one sightseeing stop you would like to make, Bukchon Hanok Village is surely the right one! I believe you can pay to go into some of these houses too.
After all the exercise walking up the village in the burning sun, we stopped by a little stall to get Sikhye. Our Korean friend told us that this is a traditional Korean drink and is made of rice! There are grains of cooked rice at the bottom and the drink is sweet and refreshing! It’s a drink that supposed to help with digestion! Perfect after a big meal. They now sell Sikhye in cans at supermarkets, and I actually purchased one back in Vancouver at H-mart. However, I have to say that the old granny who was stirring her pot produced much better Sikhye! So sad that I won’t be able to have this now that I’m back in Vancouver!