Monday, April 25, 2016

midnight bistro season 2 (시야식당 season 2)

midnight bistro season 2 (시야식당 season 2)
서울특별시 용산구 이태원로20길 2-10; aka 서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 64-15 5층tel02) 3785-3385

what was consumed: itaewon stew, sauteed pork with onions, chef's chili ... and beers!

looking for a late night meal? look for midnight bistro (aka shimya-shikdang). i understand that this eatery is named after the japanese movie/korean tv show, or, at the very least, in that vein. they welcome solo diners up to small groups (they don't have -too- much seating; keep that in mind), but you're in for a treat when you visit.

once seated, one of midnight bistro's servers will greet you and give you a lay of the land, including an ipad with the menu, and invites you to take a look at their beverage selection for your perusal and selection. you pick what you like, drink as you will, and pay for your selection at the end. easy peasy! and for food: they specialize in world cuisine, so have all sorts of different tasty treats (they also have cocktails, but i believe this should be ordered with the server. actually, not sure. i just see cocktails on the menu). our meal started off with a bit of chili. our server said that the flavors were supposed to be reminiscent of the chef's home country (not korea) and it served as a little appetizer that whet our appetites.

we opted to go with a seasonal option (the pork) as well as one of their specialties (the itaewon stew) as we were looking to grab a bite to eat after the big bang concert :D (note: they have a seasonal/rotating menu). 

i want to go back! YUM.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

mere picon

mere picon
서울특별시 마포구 독막로14길 31; aka 서울특별시 마포구 상수동 324-10 1층tel02) 3144-7096

what was consumed: squid ink paella, fish 'n chips, vegetable medley

i have some cool cousins. like really cool ones. so, when one suggested we have dinner near his place in the sangsoo station area, i was happy to oblige. he took us to mere picon, one of his current go-tos for good food and good drink.

mere picon has a pretty large menu, with a variety of tasty treats that are european-esque (they categorize themselves as a gastropub, fittingly). large or small, your party will find things that suit their fancy. we decided on squid ink paella (squid ink is so popular these days! my unsophisticated and not sensitive palette doesn't seem to appreciate it beyond the color ... black!) and what my cousin claimed was the best fish and chips in seoul (i don't know how much fish and chips he'd eaten. either way, the was pretty flake-y and the batter was seasoned so well (and not too thick or oily). delish!). 

if you don't look carefully, you might miss mere picon. in the midst of the neon lights that light up seoul's night life, mere picon seems tucked away from a lot of the hustle and bustle. this, however, was a plus for us as it provided a bit of peace that allowed us to chat while enjoying the tasty treats that were presented before us. so, be sure to keep an eye out for it! i can see how mere picon is a little bit of an oasis, comfortable and delicious, away from what can become the craziness of the metropolis.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

yet-nahl seoul bulgogi (옛날서울불고기)

yet-nahl seoul bulgogi (옛날서울불고기)
서울특별시 마포구 서강로 71; aka 서울특별시 마포구 창전동 15-4
tel: 02) 336-9371
what was consumed: bulgogi!

an a&n discovery, i wish this bulgogi place had been part of my eating repertoire sooner! if you're a bulgogi fan, you must try yet-nahl seoul bulgogi! but UGH. i made the rookie mistake of not taking a photo of the front (to more easily find this place when i invariably go back. soh-ree~)

yet-nahl seoul bulgogi pretty much just has bulgogi (they actually do have a few few other options, but all meat orientated. and, anyway, with bulgogi this delish, why would you want to order anything else? haha). a and i ordered 2 servings, but secretly wished we'd ordered an extra (note: 2 was totally enough food and we left, stuffed. but still!). after setting our table with all of the necessary things, including banchan, we were brought a large bowl of raw bulgogi, veggies, and noodles. our server the proceeded to set up our grill and then we were off! circling the grill is beef broth, further flavored by the grilling bulgogi. they'll bring more broth, but not more noodles (to our disappointment. ordering extra noodles wasn't an option :/ oh well). oh, man, talk about a hankering for bulgogi now!

and be sure to look out for the "santa claus owner"! hahaha ...


Friday, April 22, 2016

grill 5 (aka grill 5 taco)

grill 5 (aka grill 5 taco)
on the ground floor of the gran seoul building
서울 종로구 청진동 119-1 그랑서울 1층; also at 서울 종로구 종로 33 그랑서울 1층
tel02) 2158-7924

what was consumed: spicy pork burrito (they also have tacos and burrito bowls. sounds similar to some other texmex/mexican favs from home, eh?)

in my many visits to the gran seoul building for tasty treats, i frequently passed grill 5. it reminded me a little of chipotle (which i missed so much while in seoul), but it wasn't until pretty recently that i got to try it out. and i'm glad i did!

tacos? burrito? burrito bowl? i couldn't make up my mind! the gentleman behind the counter recommended the spicy pork, a grilled, korean-flavor marinated spicy pork that, along with some black beans, serve as the protein for my burrito. this version included a bit of pineapple that, while sweet, worked with the combo.

and grill 5 has french fries. oh man. that's the best. i've also heard they have chips for those who dine in. where was that when i visited?! must go again to check it out for myself.

and so, no matter what people say, give grill 5 a try! i wish i had, and sooner! who knows? you might love it!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

yummy thai

yummy thai
서울특별시 용산구 두텁바위로 4-1; also at 서울특별시 용산구 남영동 16-1

what was consumed: papaya salad, steak salad, tom yum soup, green curry (of course, this is not what they're called in thai, but ...)

my new favorite thai restaurant! friends who served in thailand said that this was their favorite place (so that counts for a lot). so, of course, we had to go and check it out. and thank goodness we did! because 
i love thai food. the savory fish sauce, the creamy coconut milk, the spicy peppers, the papaya, the cilantro, the bamboo shoots ... all of it! 

our meal started with shrimp chips and a side of sweet and spicy sauce (sort of typical for se asia, i understand). this only whet our appetites. we quickly moved on to our favorite "appetizers" of papaya salad (lots of peanuts, lots of fish sauce, lots of spice) and tom yum soup (spicy, a bit tangy, filled with lots of shrimp, mushrooms, etc) - delicious. we then moved on to a steak salad and one of the many curry-like dishes that yummy thai offers. both were seasoned well, with just a bit of spice. i hear that spice may also be adjusted as you'd like (or can handle), but i like my thai food on the spicier side.

yummy thai is run by a thai chef and what seems to be a rotation of thai staff, many of whom are some how related to the chef. maybe that's why the food tastes so ... authentic? these dishes, the chef says, are some of her favorite, cooked in ways that remind her of home. YUM.

the main chef told us that she's been living in korea (she got married and moved with her husband to korea), with frequent trip to thailand, for the past ... 10? 15? years. wowzers. yummy thai's an easy walk from base, and an easier walk from the sook myung women's university metro station. so walk (no, run!) to yummy thai! and let me know when you go because i'm always up for some yummy thai!


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

hae-byun-eh kkot-geh (해변의 꽃게)

hae-byun-eh kkot-geh (해변의 꽃게)
서울특별시 종로구 인사동3길 5-3; also at 서울특별시 종로구 인사동 142tel02-722-7237

what was consumed: the big table! which includes soy sauce crab, spicy marinated crabs, soy sauce shrimp, and crap stew

i love soy sauce crab. like love. so when m told us about a place she'd discovered that offers unlimited soy sauce crab, we made an almost beeline to visit. hello, hae-byun-eh kkot-geh, why didn't we meet earlier?


we ordered the big table, and have ordered variations of that at subsequent visits to hae-byun-eh kkot-geh. we didn't know the spicy marinated crab was unlimited, so the next time we went, we made sure to order multiple iterations. and probably my favorite. it's super spicy, but the seasoning is so delicious! i powered through. and the soy sauce crab? nice and salty, just the way i like it. and unlimited! wootwoot!

and when they say unlimited refills, they really mean unlimited refill. and not just for the soy sauce crab, but also for the soy sauce shrimp (provided that it's included in the meal you selected) and the spicy marinated crab as well (as mentioned). additionally, they have a bar of other treats (soup, salad, noodles, chicken stew, banchan, etc) for all of the fixin's. only the rice (i know!), crab stew (if you order it altogether), and maybe the kimchee pancake (though we never asked) is not unlimited.

hae-byun-eh kkot-geh is sort of difficult to find. here's how we did it: off the main insadong road, turn in to the street next to the nature republic. then make an immediate left and in about 30 feet, you'll see the entrance.

omg, i want to go right now! nom nom nom ... 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

refresh 5.7

refresh 5.7
서울특별시 종로구 새문안로5길 37; also at 서울특별시 종로구 도렴동 60 도렴빌딩 지하1층 39호tel02) 720-5757

what was consumed: salad! i like the hello santorini ... YUM.

there was a time, in seoul, where getting a really good salad was difficult to come by. they've come a long way from their iceburg lettuce or the shredded cabbage with ketchup and mayonnaise (both of which i still enjoy, of course), but sometimes i just want a fancy salad with fancy greens. so, when BLA introduced me to refresh 5.7, i was overjoyed.

the location we visit, near korea's ministry of foreign affairs, is super tiny (only about 10 seats), so we raced over to nab a spot so that we could eat on location. good thing, too, because within a few minutes, there was a line down the hall of folks who were either waiting for a seat to open up or to put in a take-out order. it's also important to note that while they have a take-out option, i'm fully convinced that my salad is bigger when i eat in versus when i eat out. at least it feels bigger.

the posters in refresh 5.7 tell me that their veggies come from CSA-like programs, so they are able to provide a variety of interesting greens to fill your salad bowl. all of the different dressings are made for refresh 5.7 and the ingredients are all swap-able (e.g. i order my hello santorini with chicken instead of shrimp for no other reason that i just want to eat the chicken). they can also make totally veggie options by subbing tofu for whatever other protein may be on the menu.0 each salad also comes with a piece of bread (which i frequently decline. if you do so when you order, they'll usually put a few more greens in your bowl. yes!).

thank you, refresh 5.7, for being in existence. i love you so much ;D


Monday, April 18, 2016

seh mah eul restaurant (새마을 식당)

seh mah eul restaurant (새마을 식당)
서울특별시 종로구 삼봉로 68; also at 서울특별시 종로구 청진동 6tel02) 364-6602

what was consumed: 7-minute kimchee stew!

sometimes, all you want (and need) is some good 'ol kimchee stew. and when it's one of those days, friends and i will visit seh mah eul for their kimchee jjigae (stew). YUM.

for lunch, most will order the kimchee stew (note: seh mah eul also does korean-style bbq with table top meat grilling. some people order this during lunch (with soju, of course), but most are there for the kimchee stew). the ajumma will place that day's banchan (side dishes), rice, and a pot of stew, enough for the number of people in your party. she'll then start the timer which has been pre-set for 7 minutes. once the timer goes off, the stew is ready for enjoyment. woohoo! 

at seh mah eul, this is how i enjoy my kimchee stew: in the large bowl, scoop in 1-part rice (i usually use half the rice you've been served), i-part shredded dried seaweed at your table, 1-part kimchee stew. repeat, as appropriate (i usually repeat - ha!). the first time i visited seh mah eul, i saw others enjoying their meal this way and it totally worked and i was totally on board. YUM.

there are quite a few locations, but we frequent the one near the office. i prefer visiting seh mae eul restaurant in the winter because it gets really warm inside, especially with a burner going at each of the tables. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016


서울특별시 용산구 녹사평대로 236; also 서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 656 2층


what was consumed: pizza! and mac 'n cheese with bacon

a friend of mine, allergic to dairy, once told me he went to cheesewick and had a delicious meal. i wasn't sure why he went (with his dairy allergy and all), but decided to see for myself if cheesewick lived up to its name. so, on a cold winter day, m, a, and i head over to cheesewick.

like many of the hip-ish places near gyung-ri-dan gil, cheesewick sits, maybe, 30 people. right as you walk in, you see the dim lighting, high top stools as well as regular four-top tables. the chalkboard listed the menu along with beer specials. and most everything had cheese (with some items having the ability to "hold" the cheese. you know. for friends with allergies). YESSSSS! 

on this cold and quiet monday evening, we grabbed a seat next to the window. we decided what cheese covered dish we'd be enjoying and quickly put in our order. and now, the waiting and anticipation.

note: i find my love of cheese so strange, especially when i consider how much i hated cheese as a kid. i didn't understand why my mom and sister wanted to cover everything with cheese. blech. and then i grew up and got some taste buds. hahaha. and now, i can't get enough. the sharper the better, the stinkier the better, and when there are those little crystals in the aged cheese, oh YUM.

anyway, contrary to what i had remembered about cheese in korea, our dishes came out, loaded with oozing and delicious CHEESE. the pizza crust was nice and thin, but thick enough to hold all of the cheese (and bacon, as our case may be). and the mac 'n cheese! overflowing with cheese, macaroni that was cooked just right, and with just a touch of a broiled topping.

the only downside with all of the cheese is seeing it when the dishes cool down. of course, maybe not hte most appetizing, but as we thought about what it looked like just minutes ago, and because it still tasted delicious, we easily overcame it and continued enjoying!

must. go. again.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


서울특별시 중구 다산로 41 선교제일교회; also 서울특별시 중구 신당동 366-440
tel02) 2236-0770

what was consumed: insalata gioconda (fresh salad with rucola, parmigiano, walnuts, cherry tomatoes, apple and balsamic vinegar, lasagna nonna silvana (baked sfoglie filled with bolognese sauce - original "nonna silvana” recipe -, mozzarella, parmigiano and béchamel), gnocchi al pesto (pine nuts, basil, parmigiano and extra-virgin olive oil), quattro formaggi pizza (gorgonzola, mozzarella, emmental and parmigiano)

brera italian kitchen and bar dis
trict (not to be confused with the online fashion shop) is a delicious italian spot that has quickly turned into many's go to place for delish italian fare.

after a raved about her experience there (and after my own experience at a delish group event there), a, m, and i decided we wanted our own brera experience. even with no reservation (we got lucky - we agreed to eat with a restricted amount of time), we were seated immediately and we started to order away - a salad, a stuffed pasta (the recommended lasagna), a gnocci dish (because i can't not), a pizza, and wine.

all of brera's pastas are home made, and you can tell! the pasta has just the right amount of elasticity that shows that not only were the ingredients fresh, but that they were never dried and then cooked perfectly. the oozing cheese, the meaty sauce. i prefer a more tomato-y sauce, but i will take brera's nonna silvana recipe! delish all the way to the end. the gnocci was pillowly without being overly starchy and dense. the pesto was just the right amount of basil-y, nutty, and oily. what little sauce remained toward the end of the dish was scooped up by the pizza crust. and yes, the pizza! a thin, but tasty, crust that supported all four of the cheeses.

the wine drinkers at my table also commented on the affordability (for korea) and wide selection of wines, available both by the glass and by the bottle.

so, listen to the raves! it'll be worth the short ride to hangakjin station (brera is about a block away from the station, so no excuses!). delicious!

Friday, April 15, 2016

ankara picnic

ankara picnic
서울특별시 용산구 이태원로 182; also, 서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 127-11

tel: 02) 793-2550

what was consumed: lamb kebab with spicy sauce!

looking for a late night snack? or just a snack whenever? think of ankara picnic! i do, anyway.

m told me that there were lots of things turkey and korea had in common, beyond language (she knows waaay more than me - she was in istanbul and studied/speaks turkish!). and so, i was glad to see turkish wrap/kebab options in seoul. delicious!

there are a few different options, but my preferred is ankara picnic. part of it is habit, part of it is convenience, but most of it is because their wraps are the most delicious. i like it with extra spices and even the onions (which i actually always forget to ask them to remove. oh well).

when you pass ankara picnic, you'll see their meats cooking at the window, in usual kebab style. they have chicken and lamb (i prefer the lamb) and they'll prepare your wrap to order. in the wrap, they'll put an ample amount of the the seasoned meat along with some veggies (tomatoes, lettuce, and onions) and then slather on some turkish cream along with the spice blend (this is also optional). i remember there are a couple of options between wraps and something else (i think sandwich). i like the wrap that reminds me, in looks, of a tortilla or a flatbread. yum.

the last few times, there have been a few incidents outside the doors of ankara picnic (mostly because ankara picnic is right around the corner from a subway exit, imo) with some yelling and some police involvement. that said, the folks in ankara picnic were really nice and supportive ... and i keep going back! may the enjoyment continue ...