The second week in Korea was spent mostly wandering through the streets of Seoul in the ever-frigid air. There was lots of good food as always, and I was excited to discover unexpected peace from different things.
I feel like most people in Korea prefer a big western meal when the occasion for eating out comes along. However, when my mom, sister, and I met up with Dad near Insadong for lunch, my mom suggested a traditional Korean meal (hanjungsik). I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and quantity of the food served; also, they had unlimited supply of their speciality gondre herb rice (soft rice infused with a special herby vegetable called gondre), which tasted amazing when I sprinkled some of the broth from the Ganjang Gejang (fermented crab – so good!) on it.
In the afternoon, we headed to Myeong-dong, and we walked down to the Myeong-dong Cathedral. I really liked that you could find a nice, quiet place to grab a cup of coffee and walk around without having to face neither the cold nor the crowds of tourists roaming about 24/7. They have a bookstore, some little accessory shops, and space to sit down and chat.
On Wednesday, I met up with fellow foodie Ann for lunch. We grabbed brunch at Able and dessert at a cafe called Good Night and Good Luck. It was actually kind of refreshing to get brunch food in Seoul, and the cafe’s famous “80% Cheese Cake” was delicious. We ended up talking for hours at both places – about food, life, school, work, love, and lots of other things – food dates like these are so necessary.
At night, we drove to the IFC mall. We went around closing hours, but most of the stores were still open, and I purchased some stuff from Zara as well as a fisheye lens for my phone, which I’ve been wanting for a long time. The quality isn’t the best, but it works and I love the effect.
The IFC mall in Seoul felt quite different from the IFC mall in Shanghai. Whereas the Shanghai was has a lot of high-end, luxury brands, the one in Seoul was catered to a wider audience with more affordable brands in the mix.
The next day, I went to Gangnam to meet up with my friend Steph, who had just arrived in Seoul. Kudos to her for not being tired despite the jet lag! For lunch, we had Dakgalbi (spicy chicken); we chose their new dish, which included a rim of molten cheese around the grill, so you could eat the chicken like a cheese fondue. For dessert, I took her to Espresso Public (read my blog post about it here), which I had been to last winter. Their waffles are bomb, and they have a ice cream waffle + 1 free beverage deal for around ten dollars.
On Friday, we headed out to Lotte Young Plaza near Myeong-dong. That whole building is full of shops catered toward college students +. My sister got herself a new backpack, and our whole family went to a Korean restaurant to eat noodles, dumplings, and galbitang (soup made with beef short ribs).
After dinner, we made a spontaneous decision to watch a movie. A few movies piqued my interest, but my sister had already seen all of them… so we decided to watch Star Wars (which was a first for everyone EXCEPT for me). I didn’t mind at all; although I did enjoy it more the first time, I think watching it again made me understand the movie better! I was surprised that my parents didn’t fall asleep watching a movie at so late an hour. They actually really liked it. I have also acquired a newfound appreciation for the soundtrack.^^
I failed to document most of yesterday, but we went to a small hotel buffet to have lunch with my grandparents, and spent the afternoon wandering through the streets of Norangjin. There are a lot of college prep academies in the area, so there were a lot of cute shops catered towards students, and lots of cheap street food as well. I seriously think that this area is underrated – maybe I’ll bring my friends here next time.
Aaand today is just a chill Sunday. We visited the old church that my grandparents attend to say hello to everyone. My sister is headed back to Notre Dame, so there’s lots of packing going on. It’s also my boyfriend’s birthday today, so I’m kind of bummed that I’m not with him. But I’ve got another 12 days until to return to New York, and I still have some friends that have been wanting to meet up, and I have my new year’s resolutions that I’ve got to keep (aka exercise Mary! Read your Bible Mary!) – so I’d better make the most out of the rest of my time here in Korea.