Korea Diary | Thursday Thrills (Day 33)

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Changdeokgung 창덕궁 Huijeongdang
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Changdeokgung 창덕궁
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Changdeokgung 창덕궁 Nakseonjae Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Changdeokgung 창덕궁 Nakseonjae

Class field trip no. 2 brought us to Changdeokgung 창덕궁. Prior to visiting Seoul, I had no idea there were multiple palaces in the city. Imagine my surprise when I learned that there were 5 in total? Each one has something a little different to them so it wouldn't be extremely redundant to want to visit multiple ones. Changdeokgung in particular is known for it's Secret Garden. We didn't get to visit the garden space at the time since I think it required either a separate admission fee and/or reservations.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sodammandoo 소담만두 Mandoogook 만두국

For lunch we ate at a place in Edae called Sodam Mandoo 소담만두. With dumplings in it's name, how could I not order something mandoo related? Plus you know me and my love for rice cakes! Mandoogook 만두국 was the perfect dish which combined both.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - NANTA Chungjeongro 충정로 Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - NANTA Chungjeongro 충정로 stage

Bestie C had a comedy/musical show called NANTA on her To-Do list. The story was suppose to revolve around a food theme while incorporating various sing-song and viewer participation elements.

After some of our friends came back with rave reviews, we had to book our own tickets as well. The show actually does a number of shows in various parts of Seoul: Hongdae, Myeongdong, and Chungjeongro 충정로.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Noodles Tree
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Noodles Tree Hamburg Omurice 함박오므라이스 Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Noodles Tree Wang Donkatsu 왕돈까스

Despite already having already completed our night time activity, there was more planned for the night. I did say we were well settled into our routines didn't I?

To make the most of our time, we chose to eat nearby the theater before heading back to the dorms. I believe the place we grabbed dinner at was called Noodles Tree. It was conveniently located in (or was it near?) the NANTA Theater building. Bestie had the Hamburg Omurice 함박오므라이스 and I the Wang Donkatsu 왕돈까스. It was very hard to resist fried foods.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Taxi stand Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Gangnam Octagon Club

Onward with the late late night plans! Drum roll, my first clubbing experience. It was actually the first time for a majority of the group of friends that I tagged along with.

Seoul is known for it's nightlife, drinking, and clubbing culture. So why the heck not? If it was just Bestie and I, clubbing wouldn't even have come out of my mouth. Both of us are just not into it.

One of our friends found that Octagon in Gangnam was supposed to be the place to go. Getting there was an ease via taxi. Just tell the driver you're headed to New Hilltop Hotel or Hilltop Hotel. None of us were looking to get drunk at the club so we arrived on the early side to pre-game at the nearby convenience stores. Our pre-gaming consisted of "weak sauce" alcohols, which I think were beer and/or makgeolli & cider mix.

Our group arrived to the club way early and nothing was really happening inside yet. The crowds hadn't really filled the place until sometime past midnight. Even then I don't have any interesting club stories to share. Most people tended to keep to themselves or their crowd of friends. To me it felt kind of like a prom or school dance but with much better music. What an experience, heh?

Korea Diary | Themed in Hongdae (Day 32)

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Hongade at night

To some Hongdae is known for it's bars and clubbing scene. For others it is an artsy and indie music cultural hub. But that night my friends and I were on the hunt for something totally different, themed restaurants.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Hongade One Piece Restaurant Bar
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Hongade One Piece Restaurant Bar inside Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Hongade One Piece Restaurant Bar food counter

With so many bars and restaurants in such a concentrated area, everyone has to differentiate themselves somehow. One of our friends was a big fan of the anime called One Piece and found out there was a place in Hongdae that was all about it. This place was pretty difficult to find because it was not only on one of the quieter streets but it is also a lower-level establishment. The only major indicator that it was the One Piece shop was the sole green illuminated flag hanging in between two buildings.

Even though I was not familiar with the anime, I was just as amazed by those who were at the restaurant's decor. Various themed merchandise were strategically placed: t-shirts, stuffed animals, figurines, etc. A projector was airing the anime against a free wall. We all thought it would have been a great to eat, chat, and enjoy the anime. That was until we were given the menu and saw how expensive the food dishes were. Would it really be worth it?

After a little while of confused and indecisive glances at the menu in front of us and then to each other, the staff let us know that this was actually a bar and the food items were more like accompaniments rather than entrees. Since we hadn't ordered or given anything yet, our group was able to walk out no strings attached. I still don't quite understand the concept of that restaurant/bar but at least the big anime fans were able to get to see a space dedicated to their favorite show.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Hongdae Caiyuan noodles Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Hongdae Caiyuan

To say those friends were disappointed that they couldn't get to eat there was probably an understatement. It also didn't help that we were trying to locate the place in rainy weather. By the time we left the One Piece bar, we were getting hungrier and hungrier. At some point we stumbled upon the Chinese-style restaurant named Caiyuan. At this point, I think it is safe to say that if it wasn't a meal that made a particular impression on me it was probably just alright. Nothing bad but nothing great either.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Hongade Hello Kitty Cafe outside
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Hongade Hello Kitty Cafe inside Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Hongade Hello Kitty Cafe waffles
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Hongade Hello Kitty Cafe food and drink

While one friend really wanted to find the One Piece spot, another had her eyes on the Hello Kitty Cafe in Hongdae. How can someone resist such cutely decorated foods and drinks? Cakes and waffles shaped as Hello Kitty's head. Lattes with Hello Kitty's face outlined in cocoa powder. Even the tables and walls had her imprint. I wouldn't say this is a place to go for outstanding sweets. It was definitely more of a novelty stop to let our inner child get all giddy.

Korea Diary | Winner Winner Chicken Dinner (Day 31)

Last post I said that we were finally venturing outside of campus on school nights for our dinners. I want to say that was mostly true....but after another full day of eating on campus.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Kimbap Coffee breakfast
Kimbap and Coffee @ Yonsei University

Thinking back on it now, I am not sure how I managed to eat that much rice for breakfast on the daily. It seemed like a norm for other Korean students on campus. So I thought I'd give having roll and tofu kimbap a try one morning. Snacking on the small rice pieces throughout class time definitely curved those hunger pangs that usually came a knocking mid-way through the lesson. But boy was it filling! I also found that sweetened vinegary rice and unsweetened coffee made a very balanced combo.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Watching Taeyang in class

I forgot the premise of the situation. When you're shown a shirtless singing Taeyang, who really cares? Eyes, Nose, Lips was all the rave in Korea that summer. Every corner we turned, every shop in every neighborhood had this song and/or a few others on constant replay.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Beef spaghetti from cafeteria
Beef spaghetti @ Yonsei University

For lunch that day my friends and I tried a different cafeteria in a building that was right next to the General Ed building. It surprisingly had some Western items on the menu. Please do take Western with a grain of salt in most situations in Korea. Foods tend to be quite Korean-tastes oriented.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Fighting

Perhaps Day 31 was close to a language exam day? One of my classmates accurately showed our struggles. The teacher certainly felt like we needed extra motivation, "Fighting!! 파이팅!! (You) can do it! 할수있어!"

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Delivery pizza and fried chicken
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Delivery fried chicken

Instead of ordering our typical delivery-fare, a.k..a. jajangmyeon and tangsooyook, we decided it was finally time to try some Korean pizza and fried chicken. Of the two, the boneless chicken was definitely the star. This pizza was alright but nothing to sing any praises about.

Oh the boneless chicken though! Please give me some more!! More soonsal chicken 순살치킨!! Mooorrreee!!! No sauce, yes sauce, cheese flavored...anything!!!! Just give me more.

When we hear about Korean Fried Chicken States-side, it is always referring to the double fried bone-in variety. But really the boneless type is, I think, even better. It isn't as crunchy, but crispy enough. I think the beauty is in the effortlessness and popability (if that's not a word, I am declaring it a thing here). It is akin to the Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken but crispier and meatier. The Korean style is also not just limited to dry seasonings. There are also wet varieties: soy sauce based, pepper paste sauces, etc. Here is yet another food that I really miss and haven't found anything like it in NYC.