Entering the Namdaemun Market!
“Cheap and Cheerful” is the best way to describe this well adorned open market, Namdaemun by both locals and foreign visitors from the all around the world. Whole sale and Retail on everything you can imagine! All sort of snacks and Korean Street food , leggings, jeans, nuts, plates, socks, furs, bags… You name it. They are all affordable and fun. You will sure find something and everything! Namdaemun Market is located right next to Shinsegye Department store in Myung Dong. I met up with my dear cousin Yoonhee and we went for a little stroll around!
“Gamegol” King Dumpling House, expect the gigantic dumplings and longest line!
Yum Yum Yum! Below, Hand cut noodle soup place. It’s freezing cold out but it does not stop making good hearty noodle. It’s typical scene here to find people wokring and cooking outside of store front. It’s a true open market.
Fried fish cakes with veggie bits. It’s a great snack for the cold days. Strangers standing next you sharing the moment of munching hot fried fish cakes worms up the cold air.
Order one and the second order is on the house. Short strip of indoor food vendors. Noodles, hot soups , bibimbap… friendly smiles greet you the second you walk into.
Deep fried veggie Ho-Ttuck : crispy sticky rice and corn flower dough filled with veggie and glass noodle filling… and Korean sausages and fish cakes on the grill. Ho-Ttuck is usually filled with sweet syrup. So this is a bit hybrid.
All different kind of miso paste and chilly paste. Seasoned in and made in various ways. Pickled sesame lives and other pickles. These are the best side dish for simple hot steamy rice!
Serious prep for night visitors. All ready to be grilled here. They include beef, pork, seafood, shrimp, pig’s feet… and what else? Noodles to be stir fried, ramen to be boiled, Spicy sticky rice: Ttuk bok gi.. ” Pojang Macha” : tented night cart , That ’s how I would translate. It’s nightly event you can taste all sort thing on stick in Korea usually in the open market or even any streets throughout the city. The lady is literally putting plastic tent over her cart with seatings and all.
One of a street vendor selling pile of winter jackets. First comes first served, You pick it and you pay it! Haha, You must stop to see him!
Fur Fur and more Fur! I know it’s a Global trend right now but here you will see hundreds of vendors selling all sort of fur items.
More dumplings! You will see temporary plastic tents over the entrance to fight the cold everywhere. It has been only 10 degrees F in Seoul.
Rustic traditional style plates and bowls. I loooovvvveee them! Stone bowls for Steaming rice or making hot pots and Bibimbap… Yum!
So beautiful! Metal pots. They come in all different size. The bigger the better I would say!
If you are in Seoul, check out this Hustle Bustle everyday Open Market ” Namdaemun”!
Get cheap fun clothing and accessories and groceries and taste hearty and affordable all sort of street food!
Day 1 in Seoul office with everyone! We had accomplished a lot and thought we would have sort of a team dinner yet at the end just 5 of us. And that’s all good and intimate. Heading out from Hotel, we are quite excite to try this ” The BBQ Place” in Seoul that concierge has recommended : Samwon Garden
Seoul by night has much Christmas like vibe still around the city with countless christmas lights beautifully wrapped around tall branches and it’s quite pretty. Approahcing to Samwon Garden in a taxi, we all are wooing and ahhhhing over thousands and billions of tiny christmas lights covered their ” Garden” in impressive way. I must say, it’s bit Goddy and… it’s too much…? But then we are all loving it. It’s sort of good bad. You know what I mean!
Entering , crossing over a foot bridge to the main hall. It’s freezing cold in Seoul and all over Korea ( record breaking coldest days have come in 90 years). Iittle ponds here and there have been completely frozen. Where are my penguins?
Oh I am loving this old pagoda roofed floor to ceiling glass walled house main hall. It’s quite beautiful. The view from the inside looking out to the garden of Samwon by season must be quite lovely. I see frozen ponds and water falls all around the main hall, so during other seasons will have quite a view here. Traditional blue and red lights hanging off the roof are familiar. It’s charming. I am home!
The BBQ place. So we order the Marinated ribs ( Gal-Bi) and 2 different cuts of Marinated Bulgogi, one near the neck and one fillet mignon they suggested us to try both. Beautiful wooden charcoal arrives. Instant warmth tickles your face. It feels good. By the way, charcoal grills are much better than the gas grill in my opinion.
The brass ( ?) grill plate arrives. It was designed in a very smart way. The flat top holds the grilled bits of meat, so they don’t get to keep cooking and get dry. Sort of concaved little pools will hold all the juice of meat and also broth that is usually served with Bulgogi. I need one of this.
The Grill is ready to go!
Marinated Galbi ( ribs). It has been filleted, marinated and wrapped to be grilled. Filleting helps for beef to get marinated evenly and gets cooked evenly and quickly. It keeps the meat even more tender and well arounds the flavor. Now the restaurant servers will come and help you first by un-wrapping the meat and trimming the bones off the meat using cooking sheers. Typical scene.
It’s a heaven!!!!!! It’s really delicious! They kept bringing more side dishes. I mean honestly, isn’t that the beauty of why we all love Korean food apart from it’s flavor and textures and all. But the Side dishes get you really excite! Hellen and Cynthia’s hands get busy!
Jessica does not do meat. So we order this delicious stone bowl steamed rice that comes with pancakes, Korean miso stone pot ( Sooooooo Gooooood), and many other it’s own side dishes. The rice that is cooked in this stone bowl is just amazingly delicious. It has dried date, mixed beans, chestnut , slice if ginseng and all sitting pretty on the top of the bed of rice. They will bring you a bowl of hot rice water to pour it into the stone bowl when the rice is done, so you can make little porridge yourself.
One more look!
Here we go the frozen water fall and the pond. It was -16 degree C = 7 degree F. You may do BBQ and ice skating here. Hahaha!
I bet they serve meals here during the warm seasons. Pretty isn’t it?
Samwon Garden is quite well known to both locals and foreign visitors. They had held prestigious events and also do weddings and big parties in their event halls. The garden is much open and big with big rocks and trees that are arranged which reminds me of old Korean landscapes. I imagine it’s quite lovely with flowers and much green and lush trees here during other seasons. The food was excellent! I would usually like to hang at little places that I stumbled into if you noticed but it was really fun eating and enjoying the view outside with office buddies. It’s a great place to go with bunch of friends and family. Despite the fancy setting, it’s totally casual. And again expect great food here.
This trip is coming to an end and actually I am not feeling so great, so staying at Aunt’s home for a day with family feels priceless. Aunt and uncle have been living in Heyri Art Valley now for a few years and I think that is so great and am very happy for them to have such a beautiful living space in this artistic community sharing all the creative thoughts and life style. So excite to have really hearty good home food after the 2 weeks of trip on the road!!
A fine artist ( oil painting and pottery), story teller, farmer, amazing organic home cook and my aunt chopping and cooking. These leaves( Sorry, I do not recall what this was at all! Aunt had used maybe good 10 different kind of herbs and some kind of leaves from her garden to cook with) are going into her steamed rice with shitake mushrooms.
Sauteed home grown squash: Cut them in chunks and start them with olive oil in a hot wok, garlic, fresh red chili chunks, salt cured baby shrimps… And Mom helping!
Oven broiled herring; Aunt poured over soy sauce with chopped green scallion right before serving it and below is quickly blenched calamaris on the bed of fresh baby sesame leaves and mixed green from aunt’s garden. You dip them in the vinegary chili sauce. Delicious!
Dinner table is coming together! Sliced cucumber dressed in chili paste and vinegar, baby radish kim chi, mountain vegies steamed and dressed in sesame seeds, garlic, onion, olive oil…
Yeah, dinner is on the table! Steamed vegie rice, Kim chi soup, calamari, more kim chi Broiled herring, steamed squash leaves for ” ssam: wrap”, and many more. And a glass of red… Happy Happy! Cousin Yoonhee on the left and her hubby, Sanghun back in the kitchen area. That was the most amazing Korean food in a long time! We chatted, laughed and ate again and again. It was so nice to have everyone together in one place and enjoyed each others…!
The next morning after another big morning meal ( ha!), Aunt, Mom and I went out for a stroll around the Art Valley. There were quite a few exhibitions including a famous Korean singer, Jo Young Nam’s Solo exhibition at ” Hangil Gallery” right by the Aunt’s place.
These plastic pieces with design are called ” Wha-To”: pretty much Korean ‘Cards”, like Poker in a sense. The artist had used wha-to in such a clever way. Wha-To is such a gamble that is beloved by entire nation for a longest time and also a national issue since people over do this down to loose their homes and family. Some people get so addict to this… like any other gambles out there.
Oh The Artist loves, the poet ‘ Lee Sang’..!
And again, the whole culture of architecture in Heyri Art Valley is quite innovative. Every building in the valley needs to be consist of using Metal, Glass, Wood , Rocks and Concrete as main materials with no pointy roof and painted exterior. It sounds bit limiting yet also it harmonizes the valley as a whole and also I believe it pushes the architects to be creative in different area such as shape, light and space.
The ” Book House”, a book store above the Hangil Gallery.
Underground level of Moa Gallery is just as bright as or even brighter than any spaces on the ground level. Smart usage of minimum amount of glass panel allows to have maxim effect of enough natural light for the space.
Outside of “Ssamji” galley and below: the stair case to the gallery space.
4 very different Rooms to crash for rent with organic cooking classes and a small roof garden growing greens then 2 gallery spaces: all with peaceful hearty and artsy farming and nature in mind. It’s called ” Field Art School” ( Non Baat Art School). They are not just fully opened yet. The rooms are available for rent already though. Below, the cooking class schedule.
The cooking class room and dining room.
The outdoor lounge: a part of lobby/cafe’ they are building. We have the same lamp in our kitchen!
Cool outdoor passage way. The natural wall-field I like to call it. Love it!
The roof top green garden.
One of the 4 room to rent. Each room is completely different in sizes and layouts. 4 different artists were hired to design each room.
Above and below: 2 gallery spaces and Mom and Aunt…
By the way, I picked out this book ” Seoul, have you ever been places like this? 100 spots you want to check out!” at Hangil Book House. (Aunt’s treat) This book excites me so much!! Beautiful pics and interesting places!
It’s so interesting to me to see all these great movement and ideas at Heyri. Ideas to be closer to the nature in style and a peace in your mind, I feel everything here feels modern yet peaceful but not trendy or fast. Maybe forward and ahead but not fast.
Hopefully Heyri Art Valley will be always the leader of the pack showcasing what you can do with your finance and ideas. A forward thinking that is good for your body and soul!
Book Chon Han-Ok ( Traditional Korean Homes with pagoda roofs with open living room and typically a court yard in the center) Village is just next to Sam Chung Dong where houses traditional Korean homes since the early 30’s. Especially the area falls in the postal code ” 30″ is where you want to check out. Walking around area ” 30″ completely reminded me of my home back in Brooklyn, Clinton Hill and our own home, a brown stone house of 150 years old. Regardless the cultural back ground, people’s mind to preserve and protect things are about the same. Cynthia and I had spotted a couple Han Ok been getting taken care of while we strolled the beautiful hilly Book Chon Village.
Watch this video to see how Han Ok is built and it’s typical interior and exterior details. And if you are interested in staying at Han Ok style guest house in this area in Seoul, please check out this site I had found. It looks quite lovely. www.seoul110.com
The real charm of Book Chon Village to me is actually the mix of old and new. I am loving the juxtapose of almost 100 years old traditional homes real people living in and many small galleries showing mostly contemporary fine arts through out the area tucked in between small boutiques and restaurants. This nice contrast makes this homes real and relevant to today’s modern life I believe.
Subodh Gupta Exhibition at Arario Gallery in So Ghuk Dong ( a little area that connects with Sam Chung dong and Book Chon Han-Ok village) . I totally remember seeing Gupta’s work and his published book at Venice Art Bienalle last summer! I only have couple pictures here but Gupta had done a series of larger than life scaled sculpture work out of white marbles for his debut at Seoul for the first time. Below shows the roar of the ocean covered in oil.
A beautiful installation by artist Kim So Yyun. I find them quite beautiful yet also bit sad. I can’t pin point it out. Is it a little one trying to fish something from the small hole out of stack of construction bricks…? Is the artist trying to say kids living in this modern day society lacking real thing..? For more details, Check out the website, www.suncontemporary.com
And to finish up, the under passage way near this area below. Quite modern, isn’t it?
Sam Chung Dong, Book Chon village and So Ghuck Dong all together is a great small area you want to check out if you are ever in Seoul. It’s a short cut to find out where Korea is from and heading to in such a diverse way. Taste hearty and delicious traditional Korean food to most amazing authentic coffee shops that make Italians shy then tasty nostalgic old street snacks in the most humble manners to lavish historical emperor’s cuisine then experience the Korea’s contemporary art scene today.
Drop me an e-mail if you need any more info, I’m glad to provide! Visit Seoul, It’s a fascinating city!
Galleria Department Store, Apgujung-Dong, Seoul : Filled with Korean designers and also international designers as Louis Vuitton and all. The Facade covered with giant metal disks are impressive.
Paris to Tokyo to Seoul. It’s getting into week 2 now and this is our last stop for this trip and we are excite to learn about the city. Personally I only started exploring Seoul since the late last year, and it has been pleasant surprise and eye opening for me to re discover my home city where I was born, and I must say it has been hell out of good time and much inspiration I get every time I’m in Seoul, so I am only thankful that I get to do this quite often.
Apgujung-dong was already trendy and popular area then ( south side of Han River since the mid 80’s) to all the hipsters, teen agers and beautiful good looking people chasing the newest trend in fashion and food culture. I still hear the Apgujung-dong is quite popular. Is it the most inspiring? I’ll say ” No” to that but if you ever visit Seoul, You want to check it out. There is a trendy street called ‘ Rodeo’ after the famous fashion street in L.A and there are ton of cafes and bars for entertaining.
Korean peeps looove coffee. And every place me and Cynthia dropped by were delicious. There’s a big chain” Coffee Bean” from L.A and also “Star Bucks” as well but also there are million places of independent coffee shops with all the charm and great ideas.
Then we had stopped for a lunch at ” Gaeh Wa Ok” in this area. Concierge at Park Hyatt in Seoul had suggested for their clean and hearty traditional Korean food. I’m already liking the store front. A traditional Pine on the side and simple wood and iron decor is quite chick and beautiful. ( It’s located right off the Rodeo Street)
White cloth covered chairs become the focal point of this restaurant. Simple and serene wall almost feels like a gallery space.
While waiting for the food, a bottle of water and a brass bowl containing a humble steamed corn, sweet potato and garlic is served. The table looks like props arranged for a painter to start his still. And typical hot towels for the customers to refresh before their meal.
Clear Dikon ( radish) kimchi . Not spicy at all. Got clean and refreshing taste. Miso paste to dip fresh cucumber sticks and loose cabbage wraps. Miso paste also works as touch of garnish for any kind of wraps.
Restaurants in Korea love to slice things on the table. It’s typical to see waiters using kitchen scissors to do so. This applies to cut noodles, BBQ meat or any other things on the table.
Now our ” Bossam” is ready. Bossam was a treat for the family and a good excuse for Dads to go through a bottle of Soju when moms prepare for ” Kim Jang” : a tradition of big quantity Kim Chi making for long and cold Korean winter. Kim Jang was a good source to take fresh vegetable to survive cold winter especially back in the days where there wasn’t much of winter farming. Clockwise from the left top corner:Filling for Kim Chi with chilli, garlic, salt and other spices before it gets fermented. Pretty much left over from Kim Jang. A stack of salt pickled Korean cabbage ( all cabbages prepared this way before the filling is filled to make Kim Chi), Regular Kimchi with Sesame oil, a bowl of salt cured baby shrimp ( a garnish to add on to Bossam) and finally, the main guy, steamed Pork Belly. How do you eat it? Take a piece of Salt picked cabbage, then a pice of meat, then bit of everything else all stacked up and a big bite out of it. It’s delicious! I believe Momofuku in NY is famous for this and also many restaurants in Korean Town serves this.
This is Soon Dae: kind of Korean sausage with clear noodles in. Steam and sliced and dip it in the simple rock salt with chili flakes or this restaurant also served it with Soy dip with bits of Scallion. Yum!
This restaurant is clean and simple with delicious hearty food! We had very much enjoyed the meal. Here for more info, www.gaewhaok.com
After a delicious lunch, Cythia And I headed out to Chungdam -Dong which is located right next to Apgujung-dong. Chungdam- dong is a quite fancy and rich area of Seoul with expensive residential homes and both international and Korean high end boutiques.
A leather bags and accessories with silver jeweleries. A cool building.
I find this last shop, “Boon The Shop” as an ultimate high end and most beautiful store in Seoul. Apart from architectural beauty, We saw may be the most complete and well edited selection of Marni, Jason Wu, Balenciaga and everything else out of all 3 cities we had visited ( Paris, Tokyo and Seoul). By the way, I really liked the Jason Wu for TSE line…!
It’s exciting to see how Seoul is changing and developing. Seoul is moving forward yet keeping beautiful traditions with modern day twist. A good and tasteful twist. I like it. People go back and see where we had come from and are making the best out of it. Especially if you are an architect, you should really check out Seoul. A lot of interesting things are happening here in Seoul now!
Boon the Shop Address: Gang nam Gu 89-3 tel 542-8006, www.boontheshop.com
Rich milky beef shank and bone broth, “Sulong Tang” with Mom and Dad. We come here at least once when I’m in Korea now. The broth is simmered and prepared in enormous iron pots for days and nights sitting on traditional wood burning fire pits. There are multiple pots simmering and brewing this rich broth separated by parts of the cow this restaurant uses.
Here we have a core table of Korean Sulong Tang! Kimch, young green peppers and rustic miso paste to be dipped, finely chopped fresh scallion. Check out the soup! How milky that is. Sulong Tang is never served already seasoned. The broth is just water and cow bones that are boiled forever. You will need to season by using good old simple rock salt. Here this restaurant uses Bamboo Baked Sea salt which comes in bit of grey shade. What’s in the soup? Bits and pieces of meat, slices of Ginseng, mushroom. Clean and rich flavor. Actually this soup is ideal for cold winter days, it will fill you up and heal your soul…!
OK, Come with me to walk Myung Dong!!!!!!!
It has been years for me to stroll Myung Dong again. Hustle bustle of million office buildings, clothing shops and all the street vendors you can imagine. It’s the Mecca where Korean consumerism truly breathes. It was then steal cut sweet yam fries in newspaper cones and how many of them I had? Haha! But now I see the sweet yam is replaced by this amusingly fried potato chips on a stick! I find them fascinating. They look quite beautiful to me. ” Ajumma” (: a middle aged married woman usually with couple kids) below overseas her “fried” table. Very typical scene in Korea!
After a long day of fitting and all with our vendors in Seoul, Daniel, Amy and I headed out to Garosu Gil in Seoul. Garosu means “Trees that are lined up on the side walk” and Gil means the Street. Garosu Gil is a small area in South side of “Han River” that has many cafes, Restaurants and small boutiques that reminds of Nolita in NY. Bit Young, lively, bohemian and somehow also bit polished.
Here a home style cooking Korean Restaurant, “Modern Bapsang”. You will find many places that are literally residential property transformed into a lovely small businesses in Seoul And I like it for it’s approachable warm attitude. I love the pink wall against the green along the rustic wood paneled passage way. You pass the small alley then you will hit the open yard staging the open door restaurant filled with people dining. It’s very Lovely!
One After another plenty of open door restaurants are lined up along the Garosu here in Garosu Gil. It was a Monday evening but it seemed like it did not matter to anyone here. Hustle an bustle, the night is just not long enough!
A open kitchen Japanese Restaurant.
A sake house.
Sorry I didn’t pay attention to the name of this place, but You can’t miss it! This hugely open rustic modern coffee shop is quite fantastic with a roof top as well. The street becomes the coffee shop and the shop becomes your street.
Here’s another good example of a private residency turned into a lovely Italian restaurant. Every inch between the building has been used up for outdoor space business here in Garosugil.
This little and very much old school ” Oden” house is epitome of bohemian soul of Koreans. Just right amount of space and your perfect friends sitting right next to you chatting and sipping. I find this place superbly designed thinking of your tired soul in mind.
Any Second floor offers just important business opportunities as the ground floor in Seoul. Just like in Tokyo it’s a big metropolitan city that needs endless space for endless ideas.
After bit of wondering, here we sat down and had some street food with a modern twist at ” School Food”. It’s a restaurant where offers all the street food that every Korean had grew up on during the school years. Above pic shows 9 flavor mini kimbap ( korean style maki roll)! Can you see the Squid ink rice maki with spicy squid inside? The rest futures toasted baby anchovies, kimchi, tuna with fresh sesame leaf, bulgogi ( thinly sliced bbqed sirloin) and more. Yummy!
This Ttuck bocki will put your tongue on fire! The #1 street food for all the students in Korea. Rice cake simmered in spicy chili broth with onions, cabbage and oden bits. Water please!!
Here some of cute shops on Garosugil. This shop called ” Happy Lady” had some great soft tops at reasonable price.
If you are visiting Seoul one day, Garisu gil is a place to check out. You will have fun strolling!
It’s day 3 with my family in Seoul and everything has been really around the food so far. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Catching up with cousin Yoonhee all day, she took us to this little run down “gogi jip” in YongSan Dong. The restaurant is called ” BongSan Jip” (Youngsan Dong 3 ga 1-21, T: 793-5022) and my cousin even saw a party of 6 of a Fashion designer, Muccia Prada here once. It’s a family run Meat specialized restaurant. You go in, you sit down where you want and order the usual. Chadolbeghi! (Brisket)
The charcoal man brings his small batch of charcoal. Then the circular grill that looks like one made out of bunch of metal chopsticks with center coverage. The light soy based dipping sauce with freshly chopped green scallion and young peppers does the job and also the super thinly sliced the beef Brisket. The thickness of the brisket will change everything. Now what do you do? Wait until the grill gets sizzling hot then put the beef on the grill until it shrinks (cooks) to the perfection, dip it in the sauce and don’t forget to grab a good mount of scallion and the peppers. Delicious!! You have an option to order a spicy Miso in a small pot and a bowl of rice to finish the meal! Ton of tofu and more chadolbeghi are in there! Yum!
Some travel moments here…
Early morning Tulum Beach in February this year.
Emiliano and Gael just got tickets to Italy for 6 weeks over July and August, and the end of July, myself will be in Asia visiting Seoul, HK and Tokyo then back to NY for 2 days and off to join the boys and family in Italy for about 2 weeks. It would be super fantastic to see my mother, dad and cousin and bit excited to explore my new favorite city, Seoul again. Asia gets Always hectic since I’m usually there for the work first, but I’ll try to squeeze in some personal time for the weekend with family. I was watching the “Bizarre Food” on the Travel channel the other day. Andrew Zimmern shares all the bizarre food and crazy fun traveling the world. And on boy its was Tokyo this time talking about pig’s guts and heart that new hip generation enjoys eating! I thought it was quite interesting. I like to stroll through also different areas of Tokyo this time. Should I try On Sen? The theme restaurant like ” Alcatraz” looks quite crazy! It would be nice to re visit a temple at Asakusa in Tokyo.
Heyri Art Valley, South Korea.
Check out one of blog about Sam chung dong , Seoul http://www.lacasapark.com/la/2009/12/a-beauty-samchung-dong-1-seoul-korea/
Yearly trip to Italy has always good balance of knowing what’s coming and not knowing what else is coming. The family, feast, the ocean and friends are what I know then there are always other possibilities that we may stumble into spontaneously! A dance party at a Castle or quick visit to other city in Europe? All is good surprise and recharging time for us and a chance to oil our ( Gael and Me) Italian to be more current and be fine tuned.
Last year Art Biennale Venezia, Italy
A local wine shop. Bring your empty bottle, they will fill it up! Italy
Typical early morning scene in Livorno. They read Newspapers and chat with friends for couple hours in early morning feet in the fresh ocean water.
Typical light filled Tuscan scene.
Last year in Paris for our 10 year anniversary.
Visit to Berlin with Kelly early this year.
Anyway,, Some flash back photos here but the point is it;s that time again!! There is this work I like to explore that only down side is that no time travel ALL the time. Brazil, Spain, Iceland, Sydney, back to Berlin and eveywhere else…
If I could just travel and take photos, now That would be my ideal life!