As I write this post months after our visit, I am realizing that I can’t wait to visit Korea again. The sights, food, and people were really unforgettable.
We started in Seoul, which was as energetic and fun as I expected. The food was beyond…so much better than the Korean food in Los Angeles, which is saying a lot (I thought it was incredible until I had the food in Korea). My favorites included Korean sashimi (different than Japanese sushi but equally good), sea snail soup, and dumplings (Myeondong was the best). Obviously, the barbecue was amazing. Chadljib, suggested by a friend, had the best sirloin and brisket. The seafood in general was all fresh and very tasty. At the fish markets, you can pick out what you like, then go to restaurants inside the market that will cook your purchases to order. The most adventurous thing we tried was live octopus…as in still moving on the plate when we ate it. One we got over it and figured out how to grab the pieces as they moved, it was actually delicious. Of course, everything was washed down with lots of rice wine and Korean beer. The street food was great as well…fried bread filled with warm honey was my personal favorite. The tea houses of Insadong were another highlight.
Seoul has a lot to offer culturally. We were lucky enough to be there for the close of the Lantern Festival, a beautiful celebration in honor of Buddha’s birthday. The shopping is fantastic, at every end of the spectrum. I found a lot of cheap and chic pieces that I’m still wearing.
After Seoul, we traveled to the peaceful seaside town of Sockcho. The laid back vibe definitely agreed with me. Sockcho has an incredible public market with fresh seafood. The fresh grilled fish at 88 Restaurant was no-frills deliciousness. We stayed at minimalistically beautiful Casa Del Aya, owned by a talented friend of a friend who became a new friend.
From Sockcho, we headed to the ancient city of Gyeongju, which unexpectedly turned out to be another food lovers haven. Thank You Chicken had the best fried chicken…and a friendly group of businessmen paid for our meal. There was yummy sausage from a tiny place run out of the front of a guy’s apartment. There were cute bakeries with fig bread and coffee. I enjoyed eating in Gyeongju as much as I did seeing the ancient temples.
Next was Busan, a bustling beach city. Jeju Island followed. A highlight there was Korean style seafood hot pot…definitely a game changer. The markets on the island were amazing, with stalls cooking a variety of delectable dishes.
I’ve got to get back to Korea soon, if only to eat. Until then, thank goodness I have Ktown!