May 17, 2016

Korea Travelogue: Myeongdong Food Guide & Surrounding Eats


Ahn Yeong! 안녕하세요

While I'm writing this, I'm filled with immense nostalgia and a paramount sense to share everything I've seen and photographed throughout my short 9D8N visit to Korea. The country is definitely one of my favorites thus far - food, attractions and people alike.

My Korea Travelogue Series:
Part 1: Myeongdong Food Guide & Surrounding Eats
Part 2: Guide to Gwanghwamun Square & Surrounding Attractions
Part 3: Guide to Hongdae & Surrounding Attractions
Part 4: Guide to Gangnam & Surrounding Attractions
Part 5: Guide to Dongdaemun & Surrounding Attractions
Part 6: 2D1N Jeju Island Travel Guide

For me, this writeup was one of the hardest to write among the series of Korea Travelogue postings that I will be publishing soon, simply because it's quite tedious compiling all the food places that I've visited on separate ocassions throughout the trip. It was quite tempting for me to just highlight the ones I really liked but I didn't know which to choose. How could I not share it all?

Before this gets too wordy, I'm going to start with the pre-planning part I did for this trip.

I booked my air ticket via Air Asia 6 weeks prior to flying, at about Rm1,200, all inclusive of 20kg check-in luggage, meal on-board, seat selection and travel insurance. I was in Seoul for a total of 9 days and 8 nights.

For accomodation, I compared a couple of hotels in the Myeongdong area using Hotels Combined and decided with Maru Guesthouse, where I stayed in a Twin Room for 8 nights, at KRW424,000 (Rm1,444), which was equivalent to about Rm90/night - value for money right there. Sadly though, I didn't quite enjoy my stay due to the lack of facilities.

Also prior to departure, I dropped by the Korea Tourism Organization Office in Menara Hap Seng and collected my T-Money Card (with KRW2,000 free credit). It's like a Touch N Go card and it's free. I'd highly recommend getting one.

I used the Visit Korea Official Website and Trazy for route and time planning for most parts of my trip.

We took the 1am midnight flight and arrived at Incheon International Airport at slightly pass 8.30am the next morning. Passing through immigration was a breeze.

How to get to Seoul from Incheon International Airport by train:

AREX (KRW8,000 for a single trip)
Incheon International Airport > Seoul Station (45 minutes) > City Hall Station (5minutes)

Airport Bus 6001 & 6015 (KRW15,000 for a single trip)
Incheon International Airport > Myeongdong (1 hour 30 minutes)

Taking the bus could be a more convenient option (though more expensive) if you happen to stay at a hotel that has an Airport Bus Stop nearby. The place I was staying was 1 minute walk away from the Airport Bus Stop. I didn't have to go through the hassle of dragging my luggage up and down the subway station steps. Click here for Incheon Airport bus timetable and stops.


My Myeongdong food journey began right after I dropped off my luggage at Maru Guesthouse. The food guide below consist of what I thought to be some of the must eat, popular food places in Myeongdong, as well as some stumbled-upons.

My Korea Travelogue Series:
Part 1: Myeongdong Food Guide & Surrounding Eats
Part 2: Guide to Gwanghwamun Square & Surrounding Attractions

Covered in this writeup:
Myeongdong Street Food
Manjok Ohyang Jokbal (Must Try!)
James Cheese Back Ribs
Sulbing (Must Try!)
Yoogane Dakgalbi
BHC (Must Try!)
Isaac Toast & Coffee
Paris Baguette Cafe (Must Try!)
Hollys Coffee
OneDang Gamjatang
*Trust me - the Korean names below would come in handy when you ask the locals for directions.*

Myeongdong Street Food (명동) 
Getting There: Myeongdong Station (Line 4 Exit 5,6). Euljiro 1-ga (Line 2 Exit 5-8).

There was so much excitement in Myeongdong Square and not to mention plenty to see and do here - shopping and hunting for food. You'll never get hungry here. Tip: Go on an empty stomach.






Manjok Ohyang Jokbal (만족 오향족발) 
Getting There: City Hall Station (Line 2 Exit 8). The restaurant is located along a narrow alleyway.
Address: 134-7, Seosomun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul.


The first meal of my Korean holiday came in the form of Jokbal or pig trotters, which came highly recommended by one of my Korean friend and clearly, it did not disappoint. Manjok Ohyang Jokbal is famed for it's amazing pig trotter and dumpling soup. No tourist in sight while I was there - a great sign.

Unlike everything else I've had in Malaysian shores, this is the first time I'm having Korean-styled pig trotters. We had the Pork Trotter Set (KRW32,000) which had a minimum order of 2 pax. It came with a massive plate of marvelously done pig trotter, a boiling bowl of dumpling soup, cabbage and condiments. It didn't take long for the two of us to polish everything up.

You can, alternatively visit the other famous Jokbal restaurant in Seoul, Myth Jokbal at Hongdae.


James Cheese Back Ribs (제임스치즈등갈비)
Getting There: Myeongdong Station (Line 4 Exit 8). Turn left and walk straight. You will have to walk pass 4 blocks. You will spot M Plaza, Tous Les Jours, Shinhan Bank and Starbucks along the way. The shop will be on your left, right opposite Panda Korea. [Same row as Sulbing and Yoogane Dakgalbi]
Address: 7-6, Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul.


Cheese and ribs is another must-try in Korea, a combination which I felt was pretty rare back home. Having said that, I had quite a difficult time researching online for options, James Cheese Back Ribs seemed like the only choice. We tried the original James Cheese Back Ribs (KRW28,000) for 2 pax. It was good - not great - probably lacking a little of that addictive glaze that I really liked. 


Sulbing (설빙)
Getting There: Myeongdong Station (Line 4 Exit 8). Turn left and walk straight. You will have to walk pass 4 blocks. You will spot M Plaza, Tous Les Jours, Shinhan Bank and Starbucks along the way. The shop is located upstairs, next to Ediya Coffee. [Same row as James Cheese Back Ribs and Yoogane Dakgalbi]
Address: 20, Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul.



Our meal felt incomplete without dessert - bingsu for the win! We ordered the Mango Cheese Snowflakes Sherbet (KRW9,500) and it was amazing! The mango was sweet; the cheesecake was savory; the shaved ice was marvelous; the amalgamtion was perfect. The best bingsu I've had hands down!


Yoogane Dakgalbi (유가네닭갈비)
Getting There: Myeongdong Station (Line 4 Exit 8). Turn left and walk straight. You will have to walk pass 4 blocks. You will spot M Plaza, Tous Les Jours, Shinhan Bank and Starbucks along the way. The shop is located on the right, opposite of Skin Food. [Same row as James Cheese Back Ribs and Sulbing]
Address: 3-1 Myeong-dong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul.



Our serving of Yoogane Dakgalbi With Cheese (KRW22,000) was pleasant, though nothing to shout about in my humble opinion. Maybe because I decided to exclude the noodles, hence the missing link. Nevertheless, our dakgalbi came with deliciously marinated chicken, rice cakes, potatoes, cabbage and vegetables. I have to disclaimed myself however, any hits-and-misses here are still better than the ones we have in Malaysia.


BHC (Better & Happier Choice) (명동점)
How to get there: Euljiro 1-ga Station (Line 2 Exit 5). Walk straight and turn right after exiting the station. You will walk pass Starbucks on the right, keep on walking straight until you see CU convenience shop at the corner, then turn left. BHC is located along a stretch of outdoor restaurants on your left.
Address: 21, Myeongdong 7-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul.



My love for fried chicken has been rewarded! A must-have in Korea, Chimaek or simply fried chicken coupled with beer, and BHC did not disappoint. While gorging on one of the best Korean Soy Chicken With Fries (KRW18,500), I also had a mug of Hoegarden (KRW7,000) and Grapfruit Soju (KRW4,000) to go with it. I kid you not - the combination felt magical. 

This was also one of the favorite meals of my trip. Clearly unsatisfied just yet, my fried chicken journey continues at Hongdae, which you can read about in my Guide to Hongdae writeup soon.


Issac Toast & Coffee (이삭 토스트 & 커피)
Getting There: Myeongdong Station (Line 4 Exit 4). Walk straight upon exiting the station, turn right at the end of the block, Isaac will be on your right.
Address: 24-41 Chungmuro 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul.

Not to worry if you can't find the outlet stated above - Isaac Toast & Coffee is everywhere in Seoul. For a quick bite, I grabbed the Bacon Beast (KRW2,800). The buttered toast was yummy though I couldn't taste much of the bacon.



Paris Baguette Cafe (파리바게뜨)
Getting There: City Hall Station (Line 2 Exit 11). Walk straight after exiting station, the cafe is on the right.
Address: 195-3 Euljiro 2(i)-ga, Seoul.

One of my favorite bakeries in Korea! How can you resist those enticing golden-brown colored pastries! They also carry a range of cookies, biscuits and milk. Must drop by!



Hollys Coffee (할리스커피)
Getting There: Myeongdong Station (Line 4 Exit 3). Walk straight upon exiting the station, you will pass 7-11 and GS25 along the way. Hollys Coffee is located on the second floor, at a corner shoplot.
Address: 6-23 Namsandong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul.


On our first night in Korea, we stopped by Hollys Coffee for a night-cap before heading home, clearly feeling exhausted. It was a long evening of stumbling in and out of the neverending rows of fashion and beauty outlets, as well as exploring the bustling Myeongdong Square for some street food. The cafe was perfect for people watching from the second floor. Remember to pick a window seat!

Again, Hollys Coffee is everywhere, you need not scout high and low for this one.


OneDang Gamjatang (원당감자탕 명동1호점)

How to get there: Euljiro 1-ga Station (Line 2 Exit 5). Walk straight upon exiting the train station, turn right at the corner of 7-11. Walk pass Starbucks to the left. Take a left after that and walk straight. The shop will be on your right.
Address: 34-1 Myeong-dong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul.




This was our last meal in Korea and we had this for breakfast - a pretty hefty one as you can see. The Pork Bone & Potato Soup (KRW29,000) came spicy and with strong hints of mint flavors, which my friend didn't quite enjoy in the beginning but grew to like the taste after a few spoonsful. There was also plenty of pork and potato to go around. The Bibimbap (KRW7,000) on the other hand tasted rather average.



Next up - Guide to Gwanghwamun Square & Surrounding Attractions.

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