In March this year, we made a 7 days 6 nights trip to South Korea; heading to Jeju Island,then Seoul after.
I know I should’ve written this outdated post while I am still in the korean mood and everything still fresh in my mind, but forgive me, I wasn’t really in the mood to write until now.
Back to the trip; it was an amazing and freezing spring! LOL. I actually thought that going there mid to late March, the weather’s gonna be just right for us. By the time we were there, the locals said is just the beginning of spring! … Which means is transiting from winter to spring time. And sadly I didn’t get to see any cherry blossoms.
I’m just going to write about a small part of my travel experience I had in South Korea, mainly on the food you must try! As always food is the only reason why I travel. Putting it simpler, I am glad I get to eat those before I die! *grins*
We started our journey from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul International Airport and then did a transfer to Jeju Island. I never expected just how tiring doing this can be, all for the sake of heading towards Jeju Island to spend the first 3 days. And guess what… I AM SO HAPPY WE DID THAT! (Jeju to me, is a more enjoyable place compared to Seoul especially when it comes to food.)
In between the transfer we experienced some slight delay, so we head on to Lotteria (since Air Busan gave us a food voucher to compensate on the delay). Lotteria is the number-one fast food restaurant chain in South Korea.
We ordered our cheesy hamburger set… all for free! (thanks to the coupon) and the cheeseeeee superb! Literally, you can do a pull string with it. LOL.
Fast forward, we landed in Jeju Island, checked in to our airbnb place at around 9pm! So yes, we just spent the whole day traveling… *gosh* We’re all exhausted, so we hop by to the closest mini market, get some cup noodles. Then that’s it! We’re resting for the day.
When in Jeju Island, you gotta eat mini abalones. They practically sell it fresh! in most places.
Abalone seafood soup
I can still recall the taste of this abalone congee.
Personally, I really don’t remember the exact location since we are all being the entitled travelers and just letting our driver take us to eat the best breakfast in town (he claimed), but I did took a picture of the restaurant, which probably can help you google it or show it to your tour guides. *grins*
In case you can’t get enough of abalone,.. when I mentioned that they practically sell it anywhere near the sea, I really mean it!
And here in Seongsan Ilchulbong , Jeju Island, you can get fresh out of the sea abalone. They recommended you eat while it’s still moving. This can get a little cruel or disgusting to some people, which is why I didn’t try it. But I manage to spy on some people who are eating it. You can request them to kill it for you and then they’ll take it out and serve with spicy kimchi as sides. The look on their faces tell me that it’s delicious.. hah!
How they get these fresh seafood is absolutely interesting. Obviously they use speed boats. (not fishing boats?!) They use speed boats to carry “woman divers” across the nearby shores to dive into the sea and catch with their own bare hands. It’s actually a pretty popular sightings here in the Jeju Island Geopark.
The next dish on the list you must try when in Jeju Island, is Black Pig. Nope, they are not wild boars. They are pigs in black. Generally, pigs are usually pink in colour, but they’re black and naturally borned black skin. I don’t exactly know how this breed come about. LOL. Go figure! Locals called it the “poop pig”. But let just call it Black Pork meat.
Again, we let our driver recommend us. And we arrived at this place nearby the Jusangjeolli Cliff.
I seriously cannot figure how black pork and “pink pork” meat can be so different! Not just the more tender-y taste of the black pork, but the texture and the juicy-ness too.
How do you eat it? Our driver taught us to pick a piece of scrumptious hot meat up and then wrapped it with a piece of lettuce and kim chi then stuffed it in one mouthful then …chew! That’s the way how you eat like the locals!
Dakgalbi – is a popular Korean dish generally made by stir-frying marinated diced chicken in a gochujang (chili pepper paste) based sauce, and sliced cabbage, sweet potato, scallions, onions, perilla leaves, and tteok (rice cake) together on a hot plate.
I am sure you are quite familiar with Dakgalbi, if you live in Kuala Lumpur. There are many dakgalbi places you’ll find KL and PJ city. And yes, I’ve tried Uncle Jang in Mon’t Kiara and it was good. So with that expectation in mind, I tried Dakgalbi is Jeju, and if you think KL’s one is good, this is awesome!! (like good x 10!)
Pair it up with a good bottle of Soju, and you are living like a Korean. hah!
The truth is, I took Soju only because I wanna beat the winter chills. But eating dak galbi in this cold chilly weather (by this night time it, the temperature is 4 degrees) is the BEST DAMN THING EVER!
In one of the famous Jeju market (at the main seogwipo city), we decided to try on one of the restaurant. We didn’t actually google a good place to eat, because we find out in these two days, all restaurants (whether famous or not) serves good food! And here’s one you should also try if you have the stomach for it – Grilled Mackerel fish.
In Jeju, they are famous for seafood. And very often they are famous for grilled hair tail fish. I’m not so sure if this is mackeral or hair tail, but oh well, who cares. I love it! But if you happen to be a fish person, go specifically for the long hair tail! (just be careful of the bones!)
Many tourist who have been to Jeju suggested that street food in the market is pretty good. But sadly, my stomach is really stuffed to actually enjoy it. I mean the main meals are so good.. i have no place for street food. Yet, the temptation is everywhere and I could not control myself. So I ended up getting, the Korean rolls, toppoki, and korean pancake – just before we head to the airport to make our way to Seoul!
I didn’t manage to finish though, so it goes to waste. The Korean rolls was pretty yummy! But I’m so stuffed to finish it. The toppoki.. well personally I suggest, just stay away from it.
And then we head to Seoul (about 2 hours flight from Jeju international airport).
The only … only food that remind me about Seoul when people asked about my trip is this cheese toast! LOL. It’s not just an ordinary cheese toast. It’s a damn good cheese toast. Look at the melting and deliciously good cheese oozing out! Take a bite and it feels like you’ve traveled to heaven and back. I put this as one of my heavenly food.
It’s located at Hongdae street; a small store with two guys toasting bread and serving cheese toast. It started off with me just wanting to get something warm to bite because it’s really cold! And this has led to a discovery of the best cheese toast I’ve eaten. #adventuresial
If you’re in Seoul, and you are doing the tourist-y visit to the Grand Palaces, then you’ve definitely heard or read about must try Samgyetang that everyone will definitely recommend. We stumble upon this place reading recommended blogs, and so we head towards out ‘must try’ food.
Samgyetang – means ginseng chicken soup. It consists primarily of a whole young chicken filled with garlic and rice – scallion and spices, among them are jujube and Korean ginseng.
I have never tasted Korean ginseng chicken in Kuala Lumpur, though many Korean restaurants have this item on their menu. I think it’s probably because for a small bowl it cost about RM40 already (but that’s still consider cheap right?) But since you’re in Seoul, why not!
The thing that amazes me and made it so memorable that I’ll recommend and will definitely visit again wasn’t really this bowl of Samgyetang
(though I will still suggest people to go for it since it’s a tourist top item)… was this cup of Ginseng wine!
Man… this feels good. The moment you taste it is horrible. But the after-taste is awesome! The best thing about gulping this down is that it keeps you warm for a period of time. You know it’s just really cold outside and I really needed something to keep me warm…
Also the interesting about this place is that you add your own ginseng. LOL. To prove that it’s real ginseng and not fake. 6,000KRW extra for these fine ginseng slices.
And to keep all paying customers happy – gave us 24k gold plated sticker #macamyes
We took a walk to Bukchon Hanok ,Seoul, a narrow alley filled with a nostalgic twist. If you wear a hanbok, you’ll really feel like you have gone back to that era! Classy, beautiful and guess what we found there? Modern lifestyle cafes with yummy desserts.
This ice cream waffle here taste better any waffles I have eaten in KL. The sweetness is just right and the ice creams taste damn good. And look at the presentation of this. Totally wants to get you eating it!
Korean fried chicken – if you have watched good amount of Korean dramas, you’ll know that when visiting Seoul, you gotta eat their fried chicken. So we ended up packing one box for dinner in our airbnb home (because it was really just too cold to be hanging outside). I don’t exactly know where the guys packed this, but I know is around where we stay, walking distance to the place. Anywau, there’s plenty of them in Seoul; almost in every corner. Is just so popular!
Of course, you’d want to try out how is the taste of the Korean food you frequent Dao Rae in Kuala Lumpur.
The Galbitang – beef short ribs soup and Bimbibap – The word literally means “mixed rice”, served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetable and chilli pepper paste, soy sauce, or fermented soy bean paste.
and not to missed out the Kimchi jigae – a stew-like dish made with kimchi and other ingredients, such scallions, onions, diced tofu and pork meat.
If you ask me how does it taste? I would say “you don’t have to travel to South Korea just to eat Korean food, because they taste similarly alike!” I enjoyed eating it in Seoul but I also enjoyed very much eating it in any Dao Rae branch or Hanwoori @ Damansara Uptown back in KL, Malaysia. If you frequent Solaris Mon’t Kiara a lot, congratulations! You have just found a mini Seoul right at Kuala Lumpur! That probably answer the question. Still if you happen to be in Korea, just order whatever you feel like order, even though you know you can get it back here in KL – this is part of traveling must do.
You may think this is animal cruelty. Urmhhh, but I have to try this bizzare food. (To many koreans, even little kids.. this is not even a bizzare food.. ) Raw octopus, just fresh out of water and still having moving tentacles. At least, they chopped off the head, and only gives you the ‘moving tentacles’ . Served with dried seaweed and chilli paste sauce… and damn is good! Even if it’s kinda creepy but it taste awesome good and you just can’t stop eating once you took the first bite!
If you dare to challenge yourself, you can request to eat the whole thing with the head. They’ll be very glad to teach you how to eat.
Noryanjin Fish market – is one of the popular place to eat fresh seafood. I kinda regret going there in the morning instead of night time. I thought you know, market are most happening during the wee morning hours (but I guess I took that for granted) Unlike in KL, this market probably is more happening afternoon till night. Is where the locals get fresh seafood, bring them to a nearby restaurant, cook it and sat there drinking Soju and dining with awesomely fresh and cheap seafood.
Hint: If you’re planning to visit this place, choose afternoon.
At least, we still get to enjoy a good hotpot of fresh fish soup! Is really good. And my! would you have believed this is for two person? I tell you ah.. Koreans really have BIG appetite wan loh!
Another hint if you’re visiting the fish market is be sure to order Raw Fish slices. (You know.. sashimi) Because it was morning, and BF here isn’t really a seafood person, I didn’t get to order that because I’d be too deeply depressed to waste food. I scouted other tables, and ALL OF THEM ordered it! And yes, it looks damn tasty. Anything is delicious when the locals say so! haha.
Of course, Korean BBQ is a highlight! How can you not dine one last meal of Korean BBQ while you’re in Korea. Is like you’d be cheating on yourself if you did not make trips to their BBQ place. LOL! You just gotta eat all the grill Samgyeopsal!
It consists of thick, fatty slices of pork belly meat. The meat, usually neither marinated nor seasoned, is cooked on a grill at the diners’ table. Usually diners grill the meat themselves and eat directly from a grill. It is typically served with vegetables, and lettuce leaves to wrap it in.
These are some of the food I recommend you MUST TRY when traveling to Korea. You noticed, I didn’t specifically put the restaurant location or where to get it because these are normal Korean dishes which you can find almost anywhere. And in Korea, all their restaurants carry a certain quality to their food. Except that each restaurants served their own unique marinated Kim Chi, the rest of the food taste pretty consistent. So all you need to do is, just scout the restaurant, see what’s in the menu and walk in.
But do expect that meals in Korea is the same as dining at Korean restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, except that you’re dining 3 times that meal price. A bowl of kimchi jigae would normally cost RM25 – RM28 here, so you should be expecting the same price (even in conversion rate) but you’re dining at a minimum 3 meals a day. So typically when in Korea, we spend the majority of our money just on food LITERALLY!