Insadong Geujip (인사동그집) – Seoul

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After a day of exploring the Insadong area, we began to look for food. There’s so many restaurants on the main street and we came across Insadong Geujip. It had a huge line up, but surprisingly, when we asked for a table of 4, we were able to get a seat immediately. The restaurant is huge! He took us behind the kitchen and there were more rooms set up which gave you some privacy. The restaurant is in a traditional hanok house, so it’s pretty neat!

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First, we were presented with the complimentary appetizers. There was cold tofu with a spicy sauce, marinated radish, mayonnaise salad, kimchi, and seaweed soup. K’s favourite was the cold tofu as usual. It has no flavour on its own, but is delicious with some spicy sauce. My favourite was actually the marinated radish. I don’t normally like radish, but it was the spicy pickled flavour that I enjoyed. It also had a great crunch to it!

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Nakji Dolsop Bibimbap (bibimbap in a hot stone pot)

We decided to share three dishes between the four of us since we weren’t very hungry. First, we got the Nakji Dolsop Bibimbap. It was our first bibimbap in Korea, and it definitely didn’t disappoint us. Mixed with beansprouts, zuchhinis, cloud ear fungus, carrots and seaweed, it gave you a crunchy texture and bursts of flavours. Instead of the typical egg yolk that they normally use, there was octopus in it! Tiny baby tako which were marinated in a spicy sauce. Super tender and flavourful. We much preferred this bibimbap compared to the ones we just plain old veggies!

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Doenjang-jjigae (soybean paste stew)

Next, we had the Doenjang-jjigae, which is a soybean paste stew. It’s a bit different from the typical tofu soup, because you can really taste the soybean. It’s pretty much like miso soup with tofu in it. The soybean flavour was very rich and strong. A very small hint of spice as well, but I was addicted to this!

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Gungjung Tteokbokki (Royal Palace Rice Cake)

Last but not least, we had Gungjung Tteokbokki, which can be translated to the Royal Palace Rice Cake. We had plenty of spicy rice cake, so we decided to go for the non-spicy version. Filled with marinated bulgogi (beef), carrots, mushrooms, chestnuts and a sprinkle of sesame, it was absolutely delicious! The rice cakes were super soft but still remained the chewiness. The sauce was sweet and not overly salty. We definitely agreed this was our favourite dish!

I’d definitely recommend checking Insadong Geujip out if you’re in the Insadong area. Prices are fair and service was pretty quick. Best of all, the food is delicious!

Address: 3, Insadong 12-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Soft Queen Bee & other Food at Lotte Department (Gwangbok Store) – Busan

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Koran Oden

If you get off at Nampo station and take exit 10, you’ll be connected to the Lotte Department store. There are various Lotte’s in Busan, let alone Seoul, and this location was called the Gwangbok Store. Lotte Department store is the major department store in Korea. They sell everything from fashion, to books, to computers and gadgets. A one stop destination with international and local brands. Well, other than clothing and technology, they also sell food! At the bottom floor of the department is a floor dedicated to food! Restaurants, little small pop up shops and even a supermarket. Of course we headed straight there! Not only do they sell Korean food, but even Japanese, American, Italian and much more! We ended up trying some Korean Oden at one of the stalls. It came with two fish-like balls, and two fish cakes. I like how they add a bit of carrot, peas, and green onion in their balls, so it’s different from Chinese fish balls. The oden broth was light and flavourful. Very yummy!

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Tteokbokki

J got the Tteokbokki, which is spicy Korean rice cake. I find that in Korea, the rice cake is cooked to a much softer texture, but still remains the chewiness and stickiness. Much better than the ones in Vancouver. It also came with some slices of fish cake, which are my all time favourite. The sauce was surprisingly not too spicy, but had a hint of sweetness to it. Great to share!

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At another stall, we found honeycomb ice cream, which is the new trend in Korea. The stall was called Soft Queen Bee. I believe they have a bunch of other stores around South Korea. Honey with milk ice cream is what everyone talks about in Korea. Almost all ice cream shops sell this now.

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Their menu only has 6 flavours. The base is the milk ice cream, with honey added to it. Then you can choose different toppings, such as caramel or the actual honeycomb. It’s a bit pricey at around CAD$5 for a small cup.

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Honey Cube Cream Bee

I chose the Honey Cube Cream Bee. The milky ice cream is drizzled with honey and topped with an actual honeycomb. I’ve never had a honeycomb before so it was pretty neat! I bit into the honeycomb and left it on my tongue. All the honey will come out and what’s left is the comb. I found it sort of odd. It was kind of like wax or plastic left. I really didn’t like the plastic texture left, but I loved the part when the honey came out. The ice cream itself is very creamy and strong in milk flavour. Mixed with the honey, it’s like smooth cream in your mouth. Really good! I think I would opt for just honey and the milk ice cream next time, since I didn’t really enjoy the honeycomb itself.

Overall, Lotte Department has an assortment of food to choose from. It’s a great place to even just grab some snacks. Lots of bakeries and cake shops too! A must see if you have never been to a department store with one floor dedicated to food!

Midam Rice Cake House

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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.

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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…

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Myung-Ga Sonmandoo

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Since we had just finished shopping at H-mart, we looked for a quick snack in the same mall. Just across H-mart in the same complex was Myung Ga Snack Bar which offers a few basic Korean snacks and their famous dumplings.

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The snack bar is fairly small with only tables on one side of the wall. The wall is plastered with Korean, which I’m guessing are the dishes on their menu. It’s a quick place to grab a snack, so the turnover rate is quite high.

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On the other side of the wall is where the food is cooked. I saw tons of dumplings that had been steamed on the side, but I didn’t get a chance to try them this time.

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Beside each table, they have a menu which thankfully has English translations on it. The prices are quite cheap too.

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Spicy Rice Cake

First, we got the Spicy Rice Cake. A decent sized plate of rice cakes with fish cakes were covered with a spicy sauce. I found this to be quite spicy, so I ended up draining the spice out with some water. Kind of gross, but it worked. I especially loved the fish cakes.

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I’m not sure what this was called, since J ordered this in Korean and it wasn’t on the menu. The roll on the left hand side was essentially clear potato noodles wrapped with seaweed lightly fried. On the other side were vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and onions, which were also lightly battered and fried. This was a crunchy snack although I still found it a little oily.

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Oden (Fish Cake Soup)

Lastly, we got the Oden, which you often see at Japanese restaurants. It is a fish cake soup and it comes with different snacks, such as fish balls, fish tofu, and other delicious snacks. I enjoyed the soup, and the fish balls were bouncy.

All in all, cute shop to grab some quick Korean snacks. And I will be back for the dumplings!

Myung-Ga Sonmandoo 名家饅頭 on Urbanspoon

Haroo

Bulgogi Soup and Rice Cake

Bibimbap and Rice Cake

I actually discovered Haroo on Urbanspoon while looking for a Korean place to eat with a friend in Richmond. Finally ended up going, and the place is so cute! It gives you the feeling like you walked into a Korean family’s house. Super homey and comfy! The man who served us, whom I’m guessing is the owner, was so sweet and friendly too. Reminded me of those Korean dads on Korean dramas! Parking at the mall is terrible though, even though it was just a weekday.

But anyways, let’s talk about the food. We ordered the Lunch Sets, since that was really what was only offered during lunch time I think. I found that the food actually tasted quite differently from the dishes I’ve had at places such as Jang Mo Jib and Kyung Bok Palace. The kimchi was slightly more spicy with a different seasoning, and the rice cakes were cooked quite differently. The Rice Cakes weren’t in a spicy sauce, but rather a beef stew type of sauce. I had the Bulgogi Soup which had some potato noodles, beef, veggies and a very sweet and delicious soup. For $10, each dish was in a smaller portion, but everything together made it a filling meal. I didn’t find that the food was anything special or extra delicious in any way though, but I really did like the service and the atmosphere. It felt like home and was a great place to chat with friends.

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