{Seoul} Kkanbu Chicken, Tteokbokki Alley, La Pomme, Soigne

Just came back from 3 days in Seoul and that was simply not enough time to try all of the delicious food there! It was definitely cold in December and the rain didn't help either. I stayed in a boutique hotel HOTEL SHINSHIN in Myeongdong which was very reasonably priced in a central location. Best of all, the service was on par with a 5 star hotel - I swear without them it would not have been easy to navigate around Seoul as it is not very foreigner friendly. A lot of locals do not speak English and some restaurant signs are not in English either. The concierge helped us make reservations and printed out detailed maps for us to get to the restaurants either by subway or taxi. After my trip, I would say that most places are actually quite accessible by subway and I'd prefer that over the taxi. All you need to know is which exit to take and how to walk to your destination from there. Taxis are great for locations that are not close to a subway but make sure you print out the address in Korean for the taxi driver. Be sure to include the phone number too so the driver can call the restaurant in case he gets lost (it happened to us). Don't get out of the cab until you are sure you are at your location or risk getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. Finally, to be safe, get a data plan if possible so if you do get lost, you can use Google maps to navigate to a nearest subway station as it is not always easy to find a taxi.

Kkanbu Chicken

We actually arrived in Seoul after midnight but we were still hungry after settling into our hotel so the hotel concierge pointed us to this nearby fried chicken joint that was still open. This trend of Korean fried chicken and beer seemed to have exploded in popularity after the Korea drama My Love from the Star so this snack was definitely on my list of food to try. Kkanbu Chicken is a chain with offerings like garlic roast chicken, spicy chicken and more. We ordered the Crispy Chicken (₩17,000) which had been double fried and marinated with spicy seasoning. The skin was very crispy while the meat inside was juicy and succulent. I especially loved the spicy and tangy dipping sauce on the side which was just cherry on top! [Rating: 4.5/5] 

78 Sejongno, Jung-gu
Tel: 02-777-9282
Nearest Station: City Hall

Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki

The cold and wet weather on the next day was perfect for a visit to the Tteokbokki Alley in Sindang-dong which consisted of roughly ten restaurants that specializes in Korean rice cake. Most of the restaurants sell the same thing so we popped into the oldest institution Mabongnim which supposedly started it all in this alley (just look for the restaurant with a picture of a grandma on it). The tteokbokki was cooked army stew style in a large pan with gochujang, fish cakes, noodles, boiled eggs and fried dumplings. The result was rather disappointing though as it wasn't spicy enough and the rice cakes were thin and tiny. I'd rather have just the rice cakes stir-fried in spicy sauce instead of all these other stuff that I don't care for. It is really cheap at ₩11,000 for 2 people so no wonder it's popular with students. [Rating: 3/5] 

5, Dasan-ro 35-gil, Jung-gu
Tel: 02-2232-8930
Nearest Station: Sindang - Exit 8


I still haven't tried the Softree in Causeway Bay yet so decided to try the real deal in Seoul when I saw the counter in the basement of the Hyundai Department Store in COEX. The honeycomb was so fresh and sweet while the softserve was sweet and tart like a froyo. If the Hong Kong branch is as good as this, I'm sold! [Rating: 4/5]

Nearest Station: Samseong - Exit 5

La Pomme

There's no shortage of cafes in Seoul but trying to find a great cup of coffee proved to be difficult as many serve average joes disguised with syrupy flavors. However we were pleasantly surprised with the latte at this dessert & furniture cafe in the hip Garosu-gil at Sinsa-dong as it turned out that they use coffee beans from Coffee Libre, one of the top local independent roaster where even champion baristas have used their beans in competitions.

Besides coffee, the cafe also serves exquisite desserts like this Mille-feuille Chocolat au Lait (₩11,000) with layers of chocolate cream, orange glaze, ice cream and perfectly crunchy puff pastry! [Rating: 4.5/5]

534-8 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
Tel: 02-545-4508
Nearest Station: Sinsa - Exit 8


One of our best meals in Seoul! Located in the Seorae Village, Soigné serves modern Korean and is helmed by Chef Jun Lee who trained under Thomas Keller at Per Se and later worked at Lincoln in New York City. The set dinner starts at ₩90,000 and it was worth every penny! Everything was like a piece of art. The menu changes several times a year and we were lucky enough to get the All Stars menu which encompasses the best dishes throughout the year. Fusion is difficult to get right but the chef really gets it here and I'm just really impressed with his vision and palate. [Rating: 5/5]

549-17 Banpo-4-dong, Seocho-gu
Tel: 02-3477-9386


We started the night with banchan or Korean appetizers with scallion, semi-dried saury, tofu, cabbage, "truffle", yellow tail, duck and grapes.




The Jerusalem Artichoke was impressive as it featured potatoes cooked in 3 ways with very different textures and taste, but I loved the Vegetable "Bibimbop" even more with its use of veggies, salmon roe, and white chocolate to synthetically mimic the taste and feel of the traditional Korean rice dish.


"Seorae" escargot 

The pasta course consisted of lobster bisque cavatelli and squid ink cappellini with fresh prawn and Korean spices. Loved the soft texture of the pasta which is homemade daily in the restaurant.

Octopus soup with potato gnocchi

Main dishes of the meal: Beef Tenderloin and the Monkfish & Sausage

Blueberry sorbet with a hint of lemon

Desserts continued to amaze especially the Yuzu tart with mascarpone ice cream and chocolate sauce. The "Whole Almond Candy" & Earl Grey was splendid as well.

Petit Fours were another surprise with chorizo cookie, Gorgonzola cheese macarons and madeleines. 

We had a pleasant chat with the chef who gave us some restaurant recommendations and we ended up trying one for lunch which turned out to be another amazing meal! Stay tune!

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