Shinsegae Centrum City and Spa Land – Busan

IMG_9472

If you love shopping, you must visit the Shinsegae Centrum City Department Store in Haeundae, Busan. The store is listed as the largest shopping complex in the world! With 14 floors and 2 basement floors, it even has a golf driving range! Of course I headed to the basement floor for the food department! Very similar to Lotte Department store, but with way more food! We found Lady M Confections, which is a New York based confectionery. The cakes are absolutely beautiful to look at, but are quite pricey!

photo(16)

Mille Crepe

We decided to try the Mille Crepe, which is their signature cake. This is a must try! Layers of paper-thin handmade crepes with super light pastry cream in between the layers. It’s super light and fluffy and the crepe just melts in your mouth. I’ve never had such a light delicious cake before! It’s also not too sweet. Well worth the CAD$7.

IMG_9474

Next, we found these mochi curled up in leaves. Thought it was pretty interesting looking, so we decided to give it a try.

IMG_9473

Mochi in Leaf

We were surprised that the mochi wasn’t white, but rather a slight grey with green specks in it. We suspect that it may have been mixed with tea leaves. The mochi is filled with red bean paste, which I liked, but I found the mochi to have a strange flavour. Wasn’t very sweet, but rather a little sour. Really odd and not too pleasing to the palette.

IMG_9476

Spa Land

The Shinsegae department store connects to Spa Land, which is the main purpose for our visit. Spa Land is the perfect place to relax after several days of traveling. It has 22 spas with natural spring water being pumped from underground, 13 Jjimjilbangs and saunas, and an open-air foot spa. Jjimjilbangs are public bathhouses that include everything from saunas to massage chairs. At Spa Land, it is only 13,000 won on weekdays for adults and you can stay up to 4 hours.

IMG_9497

Spa Land is huge! After paying at the reception, you will need to remove your shoes and put them in a locker, where you will get a key to the rest of your lockers. You then segregate into your gender’s change room and you can change into the uniform they provide you. Lockers are included to store your belongings. We realized that you need to be completely nude to go into the gender-segregated baths. No swimsuits whatsoever. We weren’t too comfortable with that, so we ended up just going for the saunas.

IMG_9493

Each sauna room are different themed. They are also at different temperatures. A sign is placed outside with the name of the sauna, temperature, and the health benefits it brings. Most of the saunas are around 40 degrees, with ones reaching 70 degrees! There is one that is a cold sauna, called the Ice Room at around 13 degrees.

IMG_9489

Open-air Foot Spa

On the first floor, you can exit to the Open-air Foot Spa. Here, the ceiling is open with some areas being sheltered in case of rain. There are serveral different foot spas with different ingredients in the water. The foot baths are around 30 degrees and are very comforting if  you have walked for a long time. There are also pebble stones on the floor so they provide massaging for your feet.

IMG_9496

Salt Room

After soaking our feet, we headed back indoors to the saunas. The saunas are gender mixed so you can wear your uniforms here. One of our favourite was the Salt Room. It featured blocks of salt as the building blocks of the walls. There are blocks where you can place your head on so that you can lie down. Many people sleep here! At first, I found it really hot and stuffy, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to stay for long. However, when you lie down, I found that you don’t feel as hot anymore. You start to get used to the temperature and you’ll start sweating a lot! This is supposed to help remove your toxins. We found it funny how some people were exercising in the rooms.

IMG_9498

Pyramid Room

This was the Pyramid Room, which featured a 52 degree angle. Apparently this angle is supposed to “collect energies from the universe.” It actually felt quite relaxing here as well since it wasn’t too hot. Not exactly sure how it collects energies though…

IMG_9499

Wave Dream Room

This was the Wave Dream Room, where the centerpiece creates sort of a wave. It’s supposed to help you relax. We didn’t find this one too special.

IMG_1359

Relaxation Room

On the top floor is the Relaxation Room. It’s a huge room filled with inclining chairs and TVs. You can relax on these chairs and watch TV with great privacy. The chairs are side by side but have so much privacy because there’s a board that blocks the other person from seeing you.

IMG_2656

The head rest has a built in speakers so you can hear without using headphones. Most of the shows are in Korean though, so it wasn’t too entertaining for us.

After that, we headed to this area where you can just lie on the floor which is heated. At first, I felt like it wasn’t very sanitary, but I realized there is someone constantly cleaning the floors, so everything is very hygienic here. There is also a snack bar, so we purchased some Baked Eggs. They are cooked in the hottest saunas and remind me of hard-boiled eggs essentially. You also pay for everything additional with your locker key and pay the extra costs when you leave. Other additional costs you may incur are the massage chairs and facials.

Overall, a must try if you have some spare time! Definitely will be revisiting when I visit Busan again!

Address: 35, Senteomnam-daero, Haeun Daegu, Busan

Caffe Artigiano – Seoul

IMG_9416

Grapefruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Patbingsu

Caffe Artigiano is actually a Vancouver based coffee shop, and I’ve actually been there once for a latte. I expected to see Starbucks in Seoul, but to my surprise, they also had a Caffe Artigiano. I don’t like to go into these international franchises when I’m traveling, but the other girls wanted a quick snack and to recover from all the walking. We ended up ordering some Patbingsu to share. I was surprised to find that they sold this at the coffee shop. I guess their menu is quite different so that it can cater to the Koreans. Patbingsu or Patbingsoo is Korean shaved ice and is often topped with sweet ingredients. My friends chose the Grapefruit Patbingsu, which brought some acidity to the dish. It also came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Quite refreshing after a long day in the heat!

IMG_9417

Red Bean, Kinako, Mochi, and Vanilla Ice Cream Patbingsu

K and I shared the Red Bean Patbingsu. It came with some mochi slices, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and lots of kinako. Kinako is roasted soybean flour, which is slightly sweet. A very popular topping for patbingsu and mochi.

Overall, the patbingsu were average. I didn’t find them to be too special. Plus, I found it quite expensive. They were around $9 each, which is quite pricey in Seoul. I’m sure you can get it for a cheaper price.

Zakkushi Charcoal Grill – Denman (Revisit 2)

IMG_9027

Zakkushi Set – Umeshiso Yaki, Momo,  Me Maki, P-toro & Oropon Beef

For M’s birthday, he wanted a cool, chill atmosphere with great snacks and lots of drinks. Off we went to one of his favourites – Zakkushi! There are two Zakkushis – one on Main St and one on Denman. We went to the one on Denman just because it’s usually more lively. They also used to have a third location, but it recently closed down. Since we made reservations, we were quickly seated. The restaurant is very small at this location, so we probably took up a quarter of the space. A lot of my friends shared a large variety of different skewers. Zakkushi is known for their yakitori and izakaya type of food. Yakitori are essentiall grilled chicken skewers. For myself, I chose the Zakkushi Set. Starting from the left was the Umeshiso Yaki, which was a chicken thigh with a sour plum sauce and Japanese basil. Next was the Momo, which was a chicken thigh with a nice barbecue sauce. In the middle, was the Me Maki, which were garlic stubs wrapped with pork. I actually didn’t even realize they were garlic stubs. They didn’t give me that garlic breath at all, and I thought it was just asparagus or some type of veggie. Next, was the P-Toro, which was a crunchy and juicy pork. It reminded me of porchetta. My friends and I agreed that it was more fat than meat though. Last but not least, on the very right was the Oropon Beef which came with grated daikon and Ponzu sauce. Oropon beef is essentially their ‘AAA’ beef, so it was very tender and the daikon and Ponzu sauce was very light and refreshing. Overall, a good deal for 5 skewers priced at $9.20.

IMG_9029

Matcha Mochi Ice Cream

Other than food, we also had tons of Sapporo and their plum wine. The plum wine was really good! For dessert, MC and I shared the Matcha Mochi Ice Cream. This was the perfect way to end the night! The mochi balls were still slightly frozen and filled with matcha ice cream. It came with some whip cream, red bean paste and topped with matcha powder on the top. After ordering, everyone at our table ended up getting it too. Unfortunately, some weren’t able to get their orders as they were eventually sold out. Definitely a best seller!

IMG_9030

Matcha Chiffon Parfait

We realized that another table was also celebrating a birthday, and the restaurant would turn off their lights and bring out a dessert for the birthday customer. They also sang the birthday song! We immediately sneaked over to the waitress and asked for a Matcha Chiffon Parfait for M as well. Again, they shut off the lights and sang the birthday song carrying the cake over. Pretty nice place to celebrate your birthday. The dessert came with a chunk of matcha chiffon cake, topped with whipped cream, mochi and red bean. Not bad.

Overall, we had a good night at Zakkushi on Denman. They gave us great service even though we were pretty loud and probably sat their for quite a while. The bill came to be quite expensive due to the drinks, but everyone enjoyed their night. It’s a great place to grab a small snack, but it is definitely expensive if you want to be fully filled up.

Zakkushi Charcoal Grill on Urbanspoon

Midam Rice Cake House

IMG_3950

Midam Rice Cake House is tucked away in a Korean mall in Coquitlam and you probably wouldn’t notice it at all. If it weren’t for all the instagram pictures, I’m pretty sure I would’ve never came here.

IMG_3951

Inside, the place reminds me of bubble tea shops, but with a Korean touch to it. Maybe it’s the wooden furniture and decor. Oh and I guess pretty much all the diners were Korean too…

IMG_3953

Green Tea Mochi Ice Cream

Midam is famous for their rice cakes of course, and especially for their rice cake desserts. Green tea, mochi, and ice cream are three of my favourite things, so of course I had to get the Green Tea Mochi Ice Cream! This was so delicious. The rice cake was chewy and the ice cream was hard so it  melted in your mouth slowly. And of course, it was presented nicely too. A must get!

IMG_3954

Green Tea Shaved Ice

And then there’s the Green Tea Shaved Ice. I’m not usually a big fan of shaved ice because after I few spoons, I usually get a brain freeze and start shivering. However, Midam seems to be famous for these, so I had to give it a try. It was bowl of shaved ice topped with red bean, almonds, green tea covered rice cakes, and a spoonful of green tea ice cream. We found it extremely bland, and the girl brought us something that tasted like condensed milk. Immediately after pouring it, it tasted much better. Still, I’m actually not a huge fan of red beans, unless it’s red bean paste, so this wasn’t exactly my favourite. I wish it was just all green tea rice cakes and ice cream! The rice cakes were decent, although I found the green tea to be a little bitter. A hint of sweetness would’ve made it better. It was still chewy and soft and I loved the texture of it. I also found the shaved ice to be pretty big chunks of ice. If it were finely ground, it would’ve been better. Overall, it was just okay.

IMG_3955

Lastly, J got the dinner set, which I can’t remember the name of and I can’t find it on their website. We came during dinner time, but silly me decided to have desserts for dinner. J, on the other hand, wanted an actual meal. The lunch set included some appetizers, like salad, beans, kimchi, and miso soup. It also came with black rice and I think his main dish was squid with rice cakes. On the side, it also came with a bowl of steamed eggs.

Midam Rice Cake House seems to be quite popular for the Koreans. You could find different ages eating during dinner time, and many would order desserts too. I guess it’s similar to a Taiwanese bubble tea house, but this one is filled with Korean rice cake desserts. The rice cakes itself are delicious, but some items seem to be a hit or miss. I think I came in with high expectations for the shaved ice, so I left quite disappointed.

Midam Rice Cake House 美談餅家 on Urbanspoon

Scoop!

IMG_3829

After Jethro’s, we went looking for some dessert. Scoop is located on West 4th, and although I’ve heard the name plenty of times, I haven’t been there. West 4th was having major construction, and it was extremely difficult to find parking. We ended up having to park in some residential areas, which were very limited.

IMG_3831

Scoop is essentially a frozen yogurt shop, similar to Menchie’s. The cool thing about Scoop is that they also have a game area, and offers Foosball as well as games like Jenga. The place is fairly small, with limited seating, but it’s a cool place to hangout. It was quite empty on a weekday afternoon.

IMG_3834

The menu is fairly simple. You choose your size of frozen yogurt, and then the server gives you your cup with the yogurt in it. You then proceed on to place as many toppings as you wish. She then weighs the yogurt and tells you the price.

IMG_3832

There’s a wide assortment of toppings, and they’re popular for their homemade mochis.

IMG_3833

A close up of some of the toppings!

IMG_3891

Matcha Frozen Yogurt with Mochi, Coconut Jelly, and Mango

And this is what I ended up with. I paid a little more to get flavoured frozen yogurt, which I believe comes in a few flavours, like chocolate and hazelnut. I chose the Matcha Frozen Yogurt. You can tell that the shop is fairly small, because they literally whipped matcha powder into the yogurt manually… Yup, they don’t have pre-made frozen yogurt that is already flavoured. Because of that, I felt that the matcha flavour wasn’t strong enough. As someone who isn’t a huge fan of frozen yogurt, I also found it to be a little too tangy. But I guess that’s what froyo lovers enjoy! I added some mochi, coconut jelly, and cubes of mango. The mochi was soft and had a slight chew to it. Awesome! My bill came to a little under $5, so typical froyo prices.

Scoop! on Urbanspoon

Bubble Queen

Mango Mochi Slush with Coconut Jelly

Strawberry Kit Kat Slush

If you live in Richmond, you know the list goes on for bubble tea spots, but this bubble tea store offers such unique drinks that it is a must try! Bubble Queen is located around the McKim Way and Garden City area. Some of the famous drinks they offer are the Ferrero Rocher Slush, Malteser Slush, Almond Roca Slush and the Lindt White Chocolate Slush! Yes. They turn all your favourite chocolate goodies into a bubble tea slush! They also pop a piece of your chocolate at the top of your drink to finish it off! They also have other bubble tea flavours if you like to stick with the originals and not go too fancy. Food is also available, such as their famous bubble waffles or what some people call “egg balls”. I have tried their Green Tea Mochi Bubble Waffle but unfortunately forgot to snap a picture. Guess I was too busy eating… Some other flavours are: Matcha Red Bean Bubble Waffle, Green Apple & Cinnamon Bubble Waffle, Strawberry & White-Choco-Chip Waffle, and Caramel Coffe & Toffee Chip. They also offer premium teas, chicken wings, thick toast and much more. Be sure to check it out, but I believe they close midnight latest! It’s also quite a small store, so perhaps take out? You will want to try all those different bubble teas for sure!

Check out their facebook page for more info: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/fbx/?set=o.22229571779#!/group.php?gid=22229571779

Bubble Queen on Urbanspoon