Strap on your walking shoes, people – we’ve got a big day ahead!
We woke up bright and early on Monday morning ready to hit the town. Wearing sneakers, of course, because we had a lot of ground to cover!
Gwangjang Market – one of the oldest and largest Korean traditional markets is a sprawling indoor market that twists and turns under canvas roofing. We entered in the home furnishings and linens area and walked for about 15 minutes before the food market opened out in front of us.
Stalls lined the path on either side. Some selling vegetables and groceries, others selling dried fish. Barrels of kimchi varieties were there to be tasted and scooped out at will. And smattered among it all were the restaurant stalls, selling food that you could eat up on little wooden stools surrounding the cook.
Food markets are where we thrive, literally.
We stopped first for a mung bean pancake. Now, I grew up on scallion pancakes. They were and still are one of my favorite things to eat. And though I was DYING to get my hands on one in Seoul (turns out they don’t actually really exist), Korea is also notably known for their mung bean pancakes. MUNGGG!!! Mung beans are smashed down and fried with vegetables and garlic. Dunk it in soy sauce and it’s good albeit a bit doughy.
The dumplings were a mix of kimchi and regular pork, shaped almost like a tortellini, and delicious. Regular were better than kimchi!
The knife cut noodles were thick and chewy. You could tell they had been made fresh. Each noodle seemed to be a different length and thickness which speaks to the randomness and un-uniformity of the process, simply slicing off pieces of noodle as though it were a vegetable.
We happily slurped down some jap-chae – Korean stir-fried glass noodles mixed with vegetables and seasoned with sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds,
and picked up a donut to go.
The rest of the day was spent exploring. First to Common Ground, a relatively new pop-up store concept built entirely out of shipping containers.
Its popularity comes primarily from its instagram worthiness. When we arrived there were tons of people resting against the bright blue containers gEtTiiNg thE sH0tz.
We threw out our best poses and generated PRIME content.
The stores inside were pretty un-spectacular and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the trip to anyone unless you’re trying to get that ‘gram.
Do you remember the song, Gangnam Style? The Korean chart-topper that became the first video on Youtube to surpass one billion views?
The song elevated K-pop music and brought it into the mainstream for the rest of the world, not just Asia. Gangnam Style is so revered by Koreans that they have an entire shrine to it – an enormous gold statue depicting the classic hand position from the song’s dance routine. When you stand underneath the hands, the song plays!
We then tried Korean fried chicken at BHC Fried Chicken,
got lost amongst the shelves at the Starfield Library in COEX Mall – an enormous library with 40 foot bookshelves,
and made a stop at the SM Studio – a K-pop heaven. SM is Korea’s largest entertainment company and the four floor building gives fans up-close access to merch, experiences, and (why we came) photo ops.
The night ended with friends, eating and drinking by the Han river.