Gwangjang Market (광장시장) – Seoul

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I love the comfort of eating at a restaurant or cafe, but street food is honestly what it’s all about. The sanitary standards may not be up to par, but honestly, sometimes I find the best food out in the streets. After a day of shopping, we locked our goodies in the lockers at the metro stations (best invention), and off we went to Gwangjang Market. This market began in 1905 and has over 100 years of history! It’s one of Korea’s largest markets and is the oldest! You may have heard of Namdaemun and Dondgdaemun Market, which are famous for their wholesale and cheap prices, but many people aren’t aware of this hidden gem – Gwangjang Market! During the day, there are shops that sell everything from silks, clothing to kitchenware. However, by night, the food scene is the what’s bustling here! The front section is filled with packaged food and I was surprised to see many international items, including American chocolate and candy.

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As you walk in, it becomes many of the food stalls. A super simple set up with benches in front of the cooking area, you are literally sitting shoulder to shoulder here. You’ll find everyone eating here, from office people to tourists like myself.

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Apparently, there is a Jeon Alley, which I believe we hit. Jeon is basically any ingredient that is battered and pan fried in oil. It’s sort like a pancake dish. These are mostly vegetable jeons.

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Here, you’ll find everything from spicy race cake (tteokbokki), potato glass noodle (japchae), to blood sausages (sundae). The stalls are all operated by these older aged ladies or aunties (ajummas). They can be pretty fierce and demanding, but at the end of the day, they just want to be efficient and get the food to you.

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We ended up settling here, since we saw there was space to sit down! To be honest, most of the stalls serve the same things, so it didn’t seem any different.

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Gimbap

First, we got the famous Gimbap! Rice filled with simple vegetables and wrapped with seaweed. Our gimbaps were rather simple, with only pickled radish and carrots inside. It was brushed with sesame oil and sprinkled with white sesame. It came with a dipping sauce too, which wasn’t exactly soy sauce. I’m not sure what it was, but these gimbaps were super addicting with the sauce! I was sitting literally on the edge of the bench, almost falling off, but it was well worth it! There was a granny in front of me who was rolling these gimbaps, and she was super friendly even though she couldn’t speak any English. She ended up giving me a free roll that she had just wrapped! Super cute! I hear there is a Gimbap Alley nearby too….

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Bindaetteok
If you walk around the market, you will see this huge pancakes being sizzled in guzzling oil. I was determined to try them, and later learned that they were called Bindaetteok. They are mung bean pancakes which are fried in oil. The mung beans are first soaked and then turned into a batter by grinding them in between millstones. Pretty cool! Apparently, this market is the place to get the traditional mung bean pancakes. I have to say that they are quite oily, but at the same time, really delicious! Dip it into the dipping sauce which is made of rice vinegar, soy sauce and slices of onion, and you will be super addicted. These pancakes are also fairly cheap, but will get you very full. Crispy on the outside, and gooey inside!

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Yachae Twigim

We saw a bunch of colourful deep fried goodies in front of us, so we asked the diner next to us what they were since he knew a bit of English. Funny enough, he said he didn’t really know. He just knew they were deep fried and really delicious and couldn’t be bothered to know exactly what he was eating! Anyways, we got an order of it, and it came as an assortment. After some research, I learned that they were called Yachae Twigim. They’re basically deep fried vegetables. A lot of the ones we had were actually something similar to bean curd though. It had a chewy texture which was interesting but good! There was also something similar to deep fried kimchi, chives and imitation crab, zucchini, and peppers. Some were more spicy than the others, but I think it’s worth trying if you have others to share with. Probably something you can’t get in restaurants!

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That ended our meal at that stall, but walking around for a bit more, we decided to sit down at another. It’s like food stall hopping here! Ps. Look at that huge long black thing… It’s the Sundae, or Korean blood sausage… Yup, I’ve had it in Vancouver, but I wasn’t looking forward to having it again. Not my cup of tea!

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Tteokbokki

At this stall, we went for the Tteokbokki, also known as the spicy rice cake. These were rather fat pieces, but still very soft! I found this sauce to be quite spicy compared to the other ones I’ve had in Seoul. I love how they wrap their plates with plastic bags. So smart. Less cleaning for sure, and it’s also a great way to pack up your rice cakes in case you can’t finish.

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Eomukguk (Fish Cake Soup)

Next, we had the Eomukguk, which is essentially fish cake soup. Mmmm, I absolutely love this and could eat this every day! Apparently, people love to eat this with the spicy rice cake, since the broth is super warming after having the spicy rice cakes! The soup is made from anchovy stock and is extremely flavourful. I couldn’t help but finish all the stock! It also had seaweed in it which helped bring the seafood flavour. The fish cakes are soft and chewy. A must!

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Japchae

Last but not least, we had Japchae. Japchae is made from sweet potato noodles and is stir fried. It’s usually mixed with vegetables and other ingredients like beef. It’s stir fried with sesame oil and often topped with more sesame, so it’s very pungent in that flavour. Our japchae did not have any meat in it, nor any vegetables other than green onions. But holy, these were probably the best japchae I’ve had! The noodles were very thing and bouncy and were served lukewarm. So simple, but so delicious!

A must see if you like food and want to experience some traditional street food! However, be warned that when you visit in the summer, you will be drenched in street. When my hair is up, this means serious business. We were all sweaty by the end of our meal, but it was well worth it! Be sure to check out the Yukhoe Alley as well, which is a few alleys down. It has several restaurant serving up Yukhoe, the famous Korean steak tartare. Get off Jongno-5 and exit #9, and you will find Gwangjang Market!

Loving Hut

Crispy Chick’n Burger

I’ve been interning in downtown these days, and finally met up with Andrew to grab lunch since we actually worked pretty close together! He brought me to Loving Hut, which is located just across the street from the Yaletown Canada Line Station, and in front of the Yaletown Roundhouse Community Centre. Loving Hut actually serves vegan burgers, but I honestly had no idea while I was lining up, until Andrew told me. And even when I took the bite, I still had no idea! I had the Crispy Chick’n Burger and the sauce, which was chipotle mayo was really delicious! It was a bit spicy, but something that I could handle. If I hadn’t known beforehand that the chicken was vegan, I probably would have finished the whole burger thinking I had ate real chicken. But since I knew, I took the bite of chicken more carefully, trying to taste it. It tasted like some sort of soy product I think. But honestly, I think the burger tasted better than some real chicken burgers I’ve had. Definitely a must try, and I would love to try the Grilled Mushroom Cheese Burger next time! They don’t operate everyday, and only during lunch hours I believe, so make sure to check beforehand.

Loving Hut Express on Urbanspoon

Richmond Night Market

The Richmond Night Market opened around 2 weeks ago, and I’ve already gone twice! There isn’t much to do in Richmond, so what better than to go take a stroll and grab some food. I ended up going again the second week it opened, and went there on a mission to fill myself up for dinner. Admission is $1, but there’s free parking and quite a huge lot, compared to the $5 parking at the Summer Night Market by Vulcan Way. It gets quite trafficky along the River Rock Casino area though, but they have people patrolling, so it’s not too bad.

Chef James Xin Jiang Man BBQ – Chicken and Lamb Skewers

  • Any 3 skewers for $6.75 or 5 for $11
  • We saw that the line up was long, but decided it must’ve been good for it to be so long, so we lined up. Waited for probably at least 15 minutes before we got called for our order, but the girl told us that there weren’t any beef skewers left, and we could either wait a little longer, or just choose another skewer. We ended up choosing another chicken skewer, but I was still pretty disappointed with not getting what I had ordered!
  • Both Chicken and Lamb Skewers were still really delicious though, with tender meat, and a great flavour. This was probably one of the better stands of the night.

Takoyaki

  • $5 for 6 mini takoyakis
  • Probably one of the worse takoyakis I’ve had! It was all dough, with one tiny piece of octopus. The dough felt as though it wasn’t even cooked properly. It was all mushy as you can see from the above picture.

Bakudanyaki – Original Giant Takoyaki

  • $5 each
  • Since we were so disappointed with the takoyakis at the last stand, we ended up going to Bakudanyaki to get a Giant Takoyaki. Their poster claimed that there would be squid, cabbage, corn, red ginger, shrimp, rice cake, quail egg, and green onion, which were no lies. The Giant Takoyaki was filled with all these ingredients and the dough was thin and crispy on the outside. Wasn’t mushy like the last stand. I thought the quail egg inside was pretty interesting too!
  • They had 4 flavours: Original, Curry, Chili, Wasabi

Dim Sum Express

What’s night market without my favourite Curry Fish Balls? There were quite a few Dim Sum stands, but we just ended up at Dim Sum Express since it was close by and there seemed to be quite a crowd too.

Curry Fish Balls

  • 6 for $3.00
  • Wasn’t anything amazing, and have had better ones before. Not very saucy, and not as spicy as most stands would serve. Spice was just right for me though, since I can’t take spice, but I wish it were a little more saucy.

Shrimp Dumplings

  • 4 for $3.50
  • Didn’t try this so can’t comment 🙂

I ❤ Tofu – Sweet Taro Cold Tofu Pudding

  • $3.50 for just Tofu Pudding; add $0.50 for each topping
  • Smooth tofu and the sweet taro was a good compliment with a bit of chewiness to it. Perfect dessert after all the greasy food.

BBQ Squid

  • $6 a bowl
  • Last item I really wanted was the BBQ Squid. We looked around different aisles to find a good place for it, and many had large line ups. We ended up at the stand named BBQ Squid, which seemed to only sell BBQ Squid, and there was quite a large line up, so we assumed it would be good.
  • This had to be the worse item we had of the night. After waiting around 5 minutes, we got our Squid, which was freshly grilled in front of us. It tasted full of this curry powder that I had saw them sprinkle while grilling, but that was probably the only seasoning they used. The squids were also not cooked properly or not to the type I had wanted. I wanted the squid to be crispy at the ends, but they were totally not. So disappointed and definitely not going back here again. We even ended up throwing more than half of it away since it was so bad!

Ice Cream Churros

  • $5
  • Didn’t get a picture of the stand, but it’s the only stand that sells Ice Cream Churros
  • I had this the first week I went to the night market, and thought that it would be pretty cool. I mean ice cream and churros? I had imagined the ice cream to be inside the churro, but clearly I was thinking too much.
  • It’s basically 4 churros with a scoop of ice cream, which you can choose the flavour of. I ended up with vanilla ice cream. I have to say it was a disappointment, as I felt that the churros weren’t even cooked fresh. They were pretty hard and seemed like they had sat there for a while. The ice cream just tasted like cheap Safeway ice cream, but I have to say the ice cream was probably the best part of it, which is pretty sad.
  • Nothing special, and definitely not worth $5!

Richmond Night Market on Urbanspoon

Mom’s Grilled Cheese

  • Mom’s Classic: Marbled Rye with Havarti and Double Smoked Bacon
  • 2 Shots of Roasted Tomato Soup – topped with basil mascarpone
  • Pineapple Pop Shoppe Pop

Sunny day in Vancouver the other day! Okay actually, weather has been acting weird here, with hail and snow in end of February… but this was before that crazy weekend happened…So it was actually a nice sunny day, but windy and cold! Decided to head downtown to try out Mom’s Grilled Cheese! I have heard such great things about them, and who can resist grilled cheese sandwiches… I can just never get them cooked perfectly at home! Did a little google mapping, and realized that it was so close to Pacific Center! I guess I just never walk on that side of the street normally! We approached the truck with a lot of people surrounding it waiting for their food. Apparently, they are only open on weekdays during lunch hours. Steph and I shared a Mom’s Classic, where we got to choose our choice of bread and cheese. We chose the Marbled Rye with Havarti, and added $1.50 for some Double Smoked Bacon! Mmmm, mouths were already watering with the aroma coming from the truck! While we were waiting in the freezing cold, we saw other customers buying shots of Roasted Tomato Soup, and thought it would be a great idea to warm up! Good choice because it was so delicious!!! I’m not sure if it’s just because I was freezing cold, but the basil mascarpone topped on the soup made everything so much better! We waited for probably 5 minutes or more til our food came since there were a lot of people ahead of us, but when it got to ours, they had forgot to put bacon in ours. They however, quickly apologized and redid our sandwich. Something about their friendliness didn’t make me mad about the wait though. It seemed like they had regular customers as they knew each others names, and everything seemed so personalized when they presented your food with your name. They seemed like such fun and friendly people to talk to, and they even joked with customers that they are always illegally parked here, and to look out for the cops… I don’t know if they were joking or what, but they gave me a good laugh. We went back to Pacific Center to eat since it was freezing cold, and yum! It was so good! They also came with two pickles, and potato chips at the bottom that had the Ms. Vickie’s texture, but I think they are homemade. Also tried the Pineapple Pop Shoppe, which was actually pretty good! Reminded me of Jones Soda, with the colour and cool, vintage looking bottle. Really fizzy though, and probably not the healthiest thing. I will definitely be back for some Mom’s Grilled Cheese! I just wish they opened during the weekends!

Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck on Urbanspoon