A Food Diary of South Korea – What and Where to Eat (Part One: Sweet)
During my 3 week stay in South Korea a lot of my time was spent going from cafes to ice cream parlours and places in between trying to find the yummiest and, at times prettiest food. Korean cuisine has become increasingly popular in many countries, including in my hometown of Perth where all of sudden a number of Korean Fried Chicken eateries have opened, along with Korean BBQ and ice cream shops (yes, Korean ice cream is amazing!) and because sharing is caring, I’ll share with you some of my favourite sweet treats I tried in South Korea, who doesn’t like looking at ice cream and cakes?!
Firstly, cafe culture is HUGE is Seoul, there is literally (a word I don’t use often or lightly) cafe upon cafe upon cafe. Even in some of the smaller cities like Gyeongju there were no shortages of places to buy a coffee. It makes you wonder, how do these places stay in business? They’re where many people start their days, and i’m almost ashamed of saying that our first stop most mornings was Starbucks. Other cafes were tried before settling on the green siren – they’re everywhere, they’re consistent and they had “normal” food according to my husband :P. But cafes are also hugely popular at night as a place to have something sweet after dinner, to hang out with friends or just somewhere to chill. Seoul has many themed cafes and eateries. There’s the usual cat and dog cafes but I also spotted a raccoon cafe and went to a sheep café and a flower café.
PLEASE BE WARNED: Lots of food photos ahead. JustUndiscovered is not responsible for hunger caused by these photos (or any drooling either).
Line friends are everywhere in Seoul, including the T-Money card (public transport card) where we had Cony (the rabbit below). Line is a popular instant messaging app and Line friends are stickers on the app. The characters have become hugely popular with many shops selling Line Friends memorabilia. I bought these super cute macarons from the flagship store in Sinsadong, they were so good!
Aside from cafes, I had some of the best tasting ice cream in Korea, something I wasn’t expecting. On my first night in Myeongdong I had gelato (yes, I know it’s not the same as ice cream) shaped like a flower. I had a different ice cream over the next few nights in Seoul. In Gyeongju I had the most amazing ice cream served with waffles. It was creamy, thick and not too sweet. It was probably just a normal store bought ice cream but it was heaven to me. There was also a lengthy detour on Jeju so I could have ice cream, you can’t say i’m not committed :). Luckily, a few places have opened up in Perth serving Korean soft serve so i’ll have to check them out and see how they compare.
Last but not least, you’ll need a drink to quench your thirst. Tea is my drink of choice and I loved how you could order any tea iced. Ice tea options are usually limited but not in cafes in Korea. If you enjoy coffee, they also serve any coffee iced. Why not also try some traditional Korean tea at a tea house? I highly recommended the Moon Bird Only Thinks of the Moon in Insadong. You get complimentary sweets with your tea. Plus the tea house is quirky with loads of knick knacks, plus you can leave your mark on the walls.
There are plenty of attractions on Jeju Island – from Teddy Bear Museums to Love Land (a sex themed park) but I am a tea lover so the first stop on my list was Osulloc Tea Museum. It wasn’t much of a museum but I really just wanted to check out the different types of tea and tea based foods on offer, oh and walk amongst the tea plants!
I remember walking around Seoul at night and seeing the business men and women walking shakily after consuming a few too many drinks, and this was on a school night. I think Koreans may have a drinking culture that rivals Australia! So of course I had to try a few alcoholic beverages – beer and soju. There’s 3 popular Korean beer brands – Hite, Cass and OB. I’m not a beer drinker in the slightest so it was quite a feat for me to have a beer with dinner each night. My beer of choice was Cass because my favourite K-pop idol (T.O.P) was on all of the posters but really they tasted the same to me. My husband who drinks more than I do but by no means is an expert thought the same thing – there isn’t much flavour to them so they’re easy for anyone to drink. Another beer which I was surprised to see so much of was Hoegaarden. it was available everywhere.
I had a few shots of is the famous Soju. It is a Korean distilled rice liquor that’s similar to vodka but much nicer in my opinion! It’s smooth, comes in a variety of fruit flavours and is quite easy to drink, which is not a great thing because like vodka it’s fairly high in alcohol content. Soju gets served with shot glasses so that’s what we did, along with our 500ml of beer and we ended up getting slightly tipsy, hey now we were like the business people we’d seen earlier in our trip! Before departing a quick stop to the closest 7-eleven was required to buy a few bottles of soju (these would be strategically stuffed in a suitcase), they’re only a few dollars each so you really can’t say no.