Posts tagged ‘migliore’

Seoul: Soul Food for Travelers You Will Miss

While designer boutiques and cafes spring up in Seoul, I will share with you my travel experience with some sections of Seoul. This capital of South Korea offers silk worm snack foods and street jazz.

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The place. It was a clear spring evening, outside Tongdaenum stadium, west of Seoul. Hundreds of teenagers mill around waiting for the clock to strike 8 p.m. I wonder if it is not a soccer match or a pop concert they have come to see. Their excitable chatter would lead me to believe otherwise.

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Oh I see! The big attraction lies across the road at the Migliore department store. 14th floors of thrifty glamour fashions and the latest arcade dance machines. Or maybe a guest pop group appearance awaits the crowd. Migliore’s night-owl business hours (8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily) have made it a beacon for Seoul’s restless and hip-to-the-groove youth. And at 8:06 p.m. the first transactions are rung though. Less than eight hours after Migliore closes its doors, another hive of shopping opportunity will abuzz on the other side of the city.

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We inched our way up the base of the imposing Mount Namsan, Myong-dong district, a new face of Seoul. Here we saw sleek office complexes rise over bustling local markets, Eastern and Western fashions. Coffee is the beverage of choice.

korea-myong.jpgThe food. Commerce is certainly the force driving the capital these days. But I find it’s worth noting about our travel to Seoul is when dinner time approaches. All our wheeling and dealing, haggling and bartering, suddenly stops. We and the citizens of Seoul get down to the very serious business of eating and drinking.

I believe that there is a growing demand for traditional home-cooked food that has created an enormous range of dining possibilities for travelers and visitors to Seoul. I find it the most challenging part of dining out in Seoul is where to pull up a seat at hundreds of food stalls, restaurants and even street kitchens.

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We sit down at one of these stalls and found out our fellow diners could be a mechanic chewing thoughtfully on a pig’s trotter. I saw a group of immaculately-dressed office ladies tucking into a fish head stew. I find the aromas of their dishes excite, and at the same time, completely confuse my senses. I’m still curious, odors fill the night air along the north side of Jongno Street back towards the Seoul’s city center. Oh! It’s peondaegi, or boiled silkworm larvae, wafting from dozens of street carts.

seoul.jpgOutside Danseonsa Theater, I spied elderly women spooning steaming critters into paper cups and selling them to passers-by for US$0.95 (1,000 won). I speared them with the toothpick provided and I swallow it as quickly as possible. It is at the back of T’apkol Park that I finally found an antidote for the powerful silkworm aftertaste. There are a handful of stores specializing in traditional medicine, called hanyak. Clusters in the alleys to the north, are easily recognizable by the bell jars of snake wine in their windows.

korea-snake-wine.jpgTogether with dried reptiles, exotic-smelling herbs and animal parts, snake meat soup called paem t’ang (don’t know if I spelled it correctly), and snake wine, called paem sul. At Cheung Jin Ok restaurant, opened in 1937, located in Jongno district my problem was solved. There is only one dish to choose from, hae jang or the coagulated cow’s blood broth served with extra spicy kimch’i.

kimchi.jpgDid you know? Kimchi is an absolute necessity in every Korean meal and can be made from one or more kinds of vegetables including Chinese cabbage, radish by seasoning and salting them with garlic, scallion ginger, chili and fish sauce.

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January 23, 2008 at 4:01 am Leave a comment


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